Swale Borough Council planners meet on the 11th April to discuss the proposed conversion of Standard Quay’s listed ‘black building’ into a restaurant and gallery and function room.
This gives those of us who want to see Standard Quay reinstated as a functioning centre for sailing barges and other traditional and historic craft just a few days to make our objections.
I’m told the best hope now is likely to be to contact local councillors, focusing on how the proposal meets – or fails to meet – local planning criteria. Read all about that stuff on the Borough Council website. Contact details for each area’s council member can be found using the search gizmo on the site, and I gather we can also write to: firstname.lastname@example.org (the council keeps changing this, not me!).
Sadly, the area planning officer’s report recommends approval on the grounds that previous applications for marine use – sail-making, boat building and repairs – were approved by the council in the 1990s and not taken up, and that it is therefore reasonable to consider other uses for this building.
I think we can take that point, but surely a restaurant is not the only alternative. Further, I’d suggest that what happened 15-20 years ago may not be wholly relevant now, and that what Standard Quay and Faversham Creek as a whole now need is a plan or vision capable of bringing the Creek back to life – not yet more developments such as housing and restaurants that inevitably lead in the opposite direction, as has happened to many small ports around our coast.
(Yes – people really do buy homes next to boatyards, and then object to the work that takes place as a matter of routine. It may seem like bizarre behaviour to you, but I’ve seen it in action.)
Some might see this as a matter of culture and history pitted against profits and employment, but maritime industry can also bring prosperity and jobs.
Faversham Town Council opposes the application, which is great news, and I understand that many other people have declared their opposition to the development, which would effectively end any hope that Standard Quay will again become alive with traditional craft and the noise and bustle involved in their maintenance and use.
Readers may also wish to contact the area’s MP, the Rt Hon Hugh Robertson, about the issue.
On the subject of the future of Faversham Creek, Swale Borough Council has an online consultation on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan – few people seem to know about this, so it would be well worth sending the Borough’s planners your views.
PS – This news story from a local newspaper website reports that the Faversham Society and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England also oppose the restaurant planning application.
PPS – The YouTube film below shows what Standard Quay used to be like – and could be again, so long as the vote goes the right way.
Also here’s an online video of a local historian talking about Standard Quay’s history.
PPPS – Here’s what the Medway and Swale Boating Association said in its letter to Swale Borough Council:
I am writing on behalf of over 4000 boaters on the Medway and Swale, including many who keep and use traditional craft in and around Faversham Creek and those like myself who have used the unique marine and leisure services provided there.
We are dismayed that the proposed development at Standard Quay will forever prevent the regeneration of the marine industries such as traditional barge-building, shipwrighting and rigging that have gone on here until very recently. There are many alternative sites for houses, restaurants and car parks but these threatened activities can only exist at the waterside. Traditional skills and employment may be lost, just when there is growing demand for them.
The traditional creekside environment is what gives Faversham its unique character, attracting many people who don’t necessarily engage in boating themselves. The irreversible damage that will be caused caused by this proposal may well have been underestimated.
We therefore strongly object to this proposed development.