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Council’s plan to move war memorial comes under fire

By Bess Browning

A leading charity which manages the protection and conservation of all war memorials across the UK has condemned plans for Faversham.

The £100,000 proposal to dismantle the Grade-II listed monument and move it into the garden in Stone Street could cause “irreversible damage”, according to the War Memorial Trust.

The comments follow the submission of a planning application to Swale Borough Council, which outlined hopes for a new parade ground inside the garden and stone plaques with an inscription of names of the fallen of two world wars.

The memorial garden as it is today.
The memorial garden as it is today.

Volunteers who have maintained the green space for the last 10 years have been campaigning against the plans, with others suggesting the money could be better spent elsewhere on public services and some who said the memorial, centrepiece for Remembrance Day, is fine as it is.

This week, it looks as though the trust, which oversees 100,000 memorials across the country, agrees.

Conservation officer Chris Reynolds says in his report: “The trust consider that the original location of a war memorial contributes to the historic, architectural and communal interest of the monument.

An artist's illustration of the proposed war memorial garden.
An artist's illustration of the proposed war memorial garden.

“In this instance, this significance is also acknowledged by the Grade II-listed status of the war memorial.

“The trust take the view that the original location of a war memorial has communal value, given it was deliberately chosen by the community at the time and that those decisions in relation to location should, as far as possible, be respected.

“We advise that there must be a compelling justification for relocation; either that the memorial has become entirely inaccessible and/or is at significant risk in some way.

Summer in the memorial garden.
Summer in the memorial garden.

“Additionally, the dismantling of a war memorial can cause irreversible damage to the fabric of the monument.

“As such, the application in its current form does not meet our criteria to justify relocation.”

After a public consultation, chairman of the war memorial committee, Cllr Mike Cosgrove, said that had been an “overwhelming majority of opinion in favour of the plans”, but this was disputed by campaigners who had taken photographs of comments in a book left during the exhibition of the plans.

Cllr Cosgrove said this week: “The work the trust does in helping fund and restore war memorials is greatly appreciated.

“We will of course carefully consider its comments.

Cllr Mike Cosgrove is leading the project.
Cllr Mike Cosgrove is leading the project.

“At this time, the start of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, a service was held at the war memorial to remember those killed and the many Faversham men whose names are not publically recorded including the two sons of the then vicar of St Mary’s Church.”

Today is the last day members of the public can comment on the planning application.

To voice your opinion before the plans go before Swale Borough Council's planning committee, click here and search for reference number: 16/504008/LBC

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