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Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan: Date set for referendum

By Bess Browning

A vote to decide whether to follow a designated plan for the future of Faversham Creek will take place in May.

After years in the pipeline, dozens of meetings, consultations, protests and even a lawsuit in the High Court, it will finally be decided whether to proceed with the contentious Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan.

If people vote in favour in the referendum on Thursday, May 4, Swale Borough Council will use the plan to help it decide any future planning applications along the Creekside.

Protesters at one of many Creek meetings. Picture Richard Fleury

Protesters at one of many Creek meetings. Picture: Richard Fleury

The specific sites considered are Ordnance Wharf, parts of the BMM Weston site, the former Frank and Whittome site on the town side of Belvedere Road, Swan Quay, the former oil depot, former coach depot, Standard Quay, Standard House and Fentiman’s Yard.

In the report prepared for the referendum, it says: “This Neighbourhood Plan is an opportunity for the people of Faversham to ensure that the area around its historic creek is developed not haphazardly but in a well-planned and positive way for the overall benefit of their town, taking into account not only the land on the banks of the creek, but also the creek itself – the navigation channel, bridge, sluices and gates, wharf and access to the waterfront and waterway.”

Swan Quay is another site in the plan, which was the subject of a recent legal battle.

Swan Quay is another site in the plan, which was the subject of a recent legal battle.

The vision of the Neighbourhood Plan is described as: “Faversham Creek is a place where we can celebrate the town’s rich history and attractive appearance, where we can enjoy spending time, both on and off the water, where boats, residents and visitors want to be, where developments integrate the needs of people and nature and where there is a distinctive character and identity, rooted in traditional industries and enrich by new businesses and uses.”

The referendum was due to take place in October 2016 but was put on hold when developers took the council to the High Court to challenge the planning inspector’s ruling that blocked residential development at Swan Quay.

One of the country’s top judges Justice Dove dismissed the challenge.

When the ruling was made in February, Faversham Creek Trust chairman Sue Akhurst said: “The Faversham Creek Trust is very grateful to Mr Justice Dove for his careful consideration of the opposing views regarding the development of Swan Quay, and for his decision to dismiss the appeal.

Ordnance Wharf is one of the sites considered in the Creek Neighbourhood Plan.

Ordnance Wharf is one of the sites considered in the Creek Neighbourhood Plan.

“This clears the way for Swale to take the Neighbourhood Plan to referendum. If it is approved, then the swing bridge can go ahead.

“We hope that generations to come will be able to enjoy this attractive collection of industrial buildings, ancient, old and modern, which so well reflect the character of Faversham as a town and a Cinque Port limb.”

Swale Borough Council had agreed to contribute £200,000 to Faversham Creek’s swing bridge fund but their one condition was that the Neighbourhood Plan is approved.

If approved, that money will add to an incredible £125,000 raised by the community in Faversham, £400,000 from Kent County Council and £175,000 from Faversham Town Council.

The celebration when the community raised £125,000 for the bridge.

The celebration when the community raised £125,000 for the bridge.

There are almost 15,000 people in Faversham who are eligible to vote on Thursday, May 4 and if you are already on the electoral roll, there is no need to register to vote – just turn up on the day.

The referendum question will say: “Do you want Swale Borough Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Faversham Creek to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

To read the neighbourhood plan and find out more, visit Swale Borough Council's website by clicking here. 

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