Published: 06:00, 27 August 2020
Britain’s oldest brewer fears plans for a major development at Faversham Creek would pose a “serious threat” to the water supply it has relied upon for 400 years.
Shepherd Neame, founded in the town in the 17th century, says the proposals to build seven houses, a café and sailing club on the site of a former oil depot need to be drastically reassessed.
Developers at Faversham Joinery Ltd want permission for the project in Ordnance Wharf, off Flood Lane, and to open a boat-building workshop to train apprentices in the woodworking trade.
But scores of objectors have hit out the scheme, including Shepherd Neame, which has outlined its fears the land is highly contaminated with lead and arsenic compounds.
The licensed water abstraction point for the main brewery site is less than 300 metres from the development site.
As a result, agents for the historic brewery say they are “extremely concerned” at the proposals being in close proximity to a chalk aquifer.
“It is evident that this heavily contaminated site and proposals for piling, which would involve creating a pathway through the chalk aquifer to the major aquifer below, could pose a serious threat to the purity of Shepherd Neame’s local water supply which it has relied on for the last 400 years,” they say.
“As such, it is beholden on the applicant to undertake a full contamination risk assessment for the site instead of relying on a site walkover and desktop assessment prepared by Ground and Environmental Services Ltd based on information which is over 18 years old.”
In defence, the developers say a full risk assessment will be commissioned before any construction work begins. They argue that the Environment Agency carried out a water sample test in 2018 and found no issues, and also stress that half of the site is covered with two-metre-depth concrete.
Developers say the plans are sympathetic to the surrounding area and in-keeping with the existing architecture.
If approved, the cafe will become a “focal point for the community”.
The controversial plans, which have attracted dozens of objections, are now with Swale Borough Council.