Published: 00:00, 27 April 2017
There is exactly a week to go before a crucial vote which will decide the future of Faversham Creek.
As election fever grabs Kent, with both the general and county vote, chairman of the Faversham Creek Trust Sue Akhurst has urged people to also make their mark for the referendum on the Creek Neighbourhood Plan.
She says a ‘yes’ vote would secure the swing bridge, which the town contributed £125,000 towards, protect the town’s heritage and let the people of Faversham have a say on future development.
The all-important question which voters will be asked to tick yes or no on May 4 is: “Do you want Swale Borough Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Faversham Creek to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”
Mrs Akhurst said: “There has been so much work for this plan and we do feel it could not be better for the town.
“If we can get a yes vote and the plan is implemented, it will have endless benefits for Faversham.
“First of all, we have the swing bridge. In 2014, Swale Borough Council agreed to contribute £200,000 to the bridge but they had seven criteria and one of those was the neighbourhood plan being approved.
“The bridge, which will be an interesting spectacle in itself, will create opportunities for the town, allowing boats and barges into the upper basin, which will encourage tourism and make it a more attractive place for visitors and residents.
“Having a neighbourhood plan will also improve the environment, archaeology and our green spaces, retain some of the industrial uses along the Creek and make developers provide 35% affordable housing – much higher than anywhere else in Swale.
“It will protect a number of historical sites from unreasonable development.
“We hope that the people of Faversham will accept that this is the best plan for the town, and it is so much better to have some form of plan in place, rather than letting developers have a free-for-all.”
The specific sites considered in the plan 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.
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.”
Swale councillor Mike Henderson said: “This referendum has crept up quietly on the town. There is a danger that people in Faversham are unaware that the referendum is happening and may not realise how important it is.
"Well it is happening along with the County elections on May 4 and it is very important.
“A resounding yes in the referendum will protect the Creek and its surrounds from developers, will make sure we get a replacement swing bridge to open up the Creek Basin to historic boats, and make sure that 25% of the community funding where development is allowed goes to improve Faversham.
"It will help the Faversham economy, attract people to visit and retain the Creek’s historic features.
“Please help the future for Faversham and make sure you vote YES on May 4.”
To vote in the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan, visit St Mary’s school in Orchard Place, Davington School in Priory Row, St Jude Welcome Centre in Tanners Street, the West Faversham Community Centre in Bysing Wood Road, Preston school room in Preston Lane and Ethelbert Road school from 7am until 10pm on Thursday, May 4.