Published: 12:00, 16 March 2017
Standard Quay will become a “bigger gem than it already is” after controversial plans for a restaurant, gallery and museum in a historic creekside building were given the go-ahead.
Quayside Properties owner Michael White has won his five-year fight to redevelop the Building 1 and says work on the grade-II listed property will start as soon as next week.
The doors of the restaurant could be open with a celebrity chef running the kitchen by the late summer, he says.
The building, which will now be home to an 80-seat restaurant, art gallery and museum for the Cambria barge which was restored there, has been at the centre of controversy as creek campaigners battled to preserve the maritime heritage of the quay.
Protesters said that a restaurant was the “final nail in the coffin for Standard Quay”.
Mr White told the Faversham News this week: “We are pleased but it has taken so long despite it being such an obvious use for the building.
“Over the time we have been trying to get permission, the building has deteriorated. Any reasonable person would have been behind these plans from the start to save the building.
“We have a lot of work to do but we will be starting next week and we hope that within the next four or five months, we could be open.
“We have had a number of celebrity chefs interested in the past but as it has been so long, we hope they are still interested.
“The building will be absolutely lovely when it is finished.
“It will also help all of the other businesses in the quay as it will encourage people to stay longer and we are sure that this project will make Standard Quay a bigger gem than it already is.”
Mr White had previously submitted two applications for a restaurant in Building 1.
The first in 2012 was refused by Swale Borough Council because of the “potential harm to the historic fabric and setting of the listed building” and then turned down again at appeal by an independent inspector.
In 2014, Mr White tried again but withdrew his application before the council could make a decision.
But this week, he has finally won permission after changing his plans to use “less invasive building techniques”.
In his application it said: “The proposed alterations leave almost all of the original structure and most of the internal fabric unchanged.
“Where changes are proposed, these are reversible, which is good practice when altering historic buildings.
“The changes proposed for the restaurant use would not cause harm to the significance of the listed building, either internally or externally.
“We see this intended reuse of the building as pivotal in the sensitive, heritage-led regeneration of this part of Faversham.
“It is submitted that the revised proposals fully address the inspector’s concerns and that the building can be converted to a restaurant, as proposed, without harm to the significance of the building itself, its setting and its contribution to the character and appearance of this part of the conservation area.”