Launch of the Arthur Percival Memorial Fund

Richard Oldfield, President of the Faversham Society, receiving a donation of £2,000 from Faversham Town Council Town Clerk Louise Bareham and thanked the Town Council for it on behalf of the Society.

The Arthur Percival Memorial Fund was formally launched on Saturday. The fund is to enable us to ensure the conservation and preservation of Arthur’s archive and his remarkable collection of images of Faversham’s built heritage and of the life and times of Faversham’s residents and visitors. It is a remarkable collection of images – slides, prints, negatives, postcards and old glass slides. They need to be properly conserved and catalogued so that they are available and conserved for the future. The Society is determined to take good care of this valuable bequest.

The Fund will enable us to recreate online Arthur’s lecture series with his original slides and based on his notes and presented by 20 different Faversham voices. Arthur’s annual lecture series introduced so many Faversham residents, newcomers and those born here, to the history of the town. These will be freely available for this and future generations on the internet and a fitting tribute to Arthur’s contribution to Faversham.

Photos from Chris Wootton. Brian Wintle-Smith and Harold Goodwin

Chair’s address at the AGM May 24th 2017

Chairman’s introduction to the Society’s Annual Report May 24th, 2017

First, thank you all for coming here this evening for the AGM, this is an important event in the Society’s year. We are here to look back on 2016, to receive and consider the Society’s accounts and our Annual Report; and to elect some new Trustees and the officers. I thought that it would be appropriate briefly to reflect on the last year and on recent developments. My review of the year is published as part of the Annual Report so I’ll be brief because we’d like to complete the business expeditiously – we have Will Palin at 8 o’clock who is speaking on Greenwich, the Battle of the Medway and the Sheerness Dockyard Church: an Historic Journey through Maritime Heritage to Faversham.

Our President Richard Oldfield, who sadly can’t be with us this evening, has commented on this year’s annual report. I quote his words: the “report is excellent – bulging with information and achievement. Many congratulations to you and the trustees and officers, all who take part in the work of the Society.” Many volunteers have contributed to the report. A new member and volunteer, Norma Beechey, has brought a fresh eye to the Annual Report and put it together for us. Norma has also taken on the task of minuting the Board meetings. Responsibility for the content of the Annual Report rests with the Board and those who wrote the various sections of it. There have been some omissions and on behalf of the Board, I apologise for that. There will be opportunity shortly to comment on the Society’s report and to ask any questions.

The Society employs no staff, we can only do what our volunteers are able and willing to do. Over the last few years, there have been fewer talks and social events – I would like to see more of both, but to deliver talks and events we need volunteers to organise them. What the Society does reflects the interests and enthusiasms of its active volunteers. The maintenance of the Society’s buildings and the activities which take place in them absorbs a great deal of voluntary effort. I’d like to thank the Board and the scores of volunteers for their work and to thank in particular Jan West and Brian Wintle-Smith who so often pick up the pieces with good humour.

Understandably our volunteers are committed to the team they work with, and the pressure on our volunteers’ time gets greater every year. We have many opportunities for volunteers, there are many more valuable things we could achieve if we had more volunteers interested in helping and giving up some of their time – your time – to make things happen.

There is more that could be done on listed buildings, organising events and visits, and sitting on the planning and environment committees. We would like to undertake some co-ordinated interpretation of the water course from the Westbrook to the Swale. We had a very successful meeting with local groups in the Fleur Hall about this, but we don’t have a volunteer to take it on. We need someone to work with the Bookshop to sell second-hand books online and we need additional volunteers to work with the Open House and Open Gardens teams.

The Trustees and all our Board members are volunteers too, willing to take collective responsibility for the Society – we need a range of skills on the Board to oversee the work of the Society, the built environment is particularly important to the town and to our Open Houses, Open Gardens and Town Walks work. At the beginning of the year Jonathan Carey kindly accepted co-option to the Board to strengthen our capability on historic buildings but unfortunately, he can’t be with us this evening as he has been in New Zealand for a few weeks.

The Society has been active in pursuit of its objects for 55 years: promoting high standards of planning and architecture, educating the public about the history, architecture, geography and natural history of the area and seeking to secure the preservation, protection and improvement of features of historic or public interest in Faversham and its rural hinterland. During those 55 years, the balance of our activities has reflected the interests of those active in the Society – in recent years we have been unable to sustain a regular talks programme and we have not had the capacity to organise any day trips or social events. I for one regret this but, as I have already said, we can only do what our volunteers are willing and able to do – our activities reflect the interests and enthusiasms of our volunteers. Our Open Gardens and Open House programmes are great examples of what our volunteers can achieve and we thank them for it.

We are celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Society’s founding in 1962 with a Tea Party on 18 June here in the Alexander Centre, we know it’s Father’s Day bring him along! We hope that you will join us to celebrate the work of the Society over the last 55 years, to enjoy a festive afternoon tea with our volunteers and members and to launch, with our President Richard Oldfield, the Arthur Percival Memorial Fund. The Fund will enable us to recreate online Arthur’s lecture series with his original slides and based on his notes. These will be freely available on the internet and a fitting tribute to Arthur’s contribution to Faversham. I hope that you will want to support this initiative. Jan is selling tickets – please buy yours tonight.

When the Society reaches out with market or festival stalls, to local organisations like the Faversham and District Camera Club and St Mary of Charity, as we did when we jointly organised the Paul Binski lecture last autumn of the wall paintings, we get an enthusiastic response – we are now working more closely with the Town Council and other heritage groups in Swale. As I outline in our Annual Report we re-organised our committees and formalised delegated powers to enable the Board to spend more time on strategic issues. Our financial position is now stronger and we have a premises fund which will enable us to undertake a programme of planned maintenance. We have made some progress in improving two-way communications both with our members and those with an interest in the town. The Board is committed to reviewing our communications strategy shortly.

I can’t conclude without saying thank you to all those who contributed to the Creek Neighbourhood Plan. The Society encouraged its members and the residents of Faversham to vote yes in the May 4th referendum. On a turnout of 42.28%, very nearly as many votes as were cast for our representatives on KCC, 5,418 voted for the Neighbourhood Plan and just 706 against. The Society joined with the Faversham Creek Trust with a stall in the Market Place on the Saturday preceding the vote to explain the Society’s thinking on the Plan, the referendum and the critical link with the Swing Bridge which should now go ahead.

The Society is pleased that the residents of Faversham voted in such large numbers in support of the Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan is a compromise between many competing interests and the Inspector made some major changes too. We are keen to see initiatives which create employment for local people and to secure a great deal more affordable housing for residents and their children. The planning policies in the Neighbourhood Plan will also assist the Society in making its case for the conservation of our heritage and providing leisure and recreational access for residents and visitors. We shall doubtless have to continue to campaign in responding to planning applications – the Neighbourhood Plan will provide some support for the Society in making those arguments for conservation, for our maritime heritage, for leisure and recreation for residents and visitors, for affordable housing and employment creation.

With the opening of so many new museums, including the Police Museum and 12 Market Place, the plans for the wall paintings in St Mary of Charity and the continuing success of the Best of Faversham Market, Faversham is attracting more and more visitors. Much of what they come to see is in the public realm, the historic fabric of our town. The Society and its members have done a great deal of work over the last 55 years to protect, interpret and present our heritage for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors. It is however critical that we engage with the next generations, if we fail to do this then our heritage is not safe. We need to redouble our efforts – working with conservation architects, archaeologists, conservationists, historians and planners to continue the work of our forebears – cherishing the past, adorning the present and creating the future. The future will be what we make it.

I’d like now to hear from you and to take questions…

There is a great deal more about the Society’s work in 2016 in the Annual Report http://www.favershamsociety.org/img/Annual_Report_2016.pdf

Bess Browning of Kent Messenger reported  that the referendum on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan had approved it,

“88% vote in favour of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. 5,418 votes cast for yes with just 706 for no.”

Turnout figures…
Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan 42.28%
Faversham Local Elections  42.94%

The Society will remain vigilant and continue to scrutinise planning applications.

 

Faversham Society Urges Members to Vote Infavour of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan

At its meeting, on 28th March the Board determined the Society’s position on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan in the referendum on May 4th.

Society’s position on the Referendum on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan

The Faversham Society recognises that the development of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan was a difficult process and that the resulting Neighbourhood Plan due to go to a referendum on May 4th is a compromise between many competing interests. The Society broadly supports the Neighbourhood Plan as it stands and recommends that its members vote in favour of it.

The Faversham Society will continue to consider particular development proposals on their merits and to make representations in furtherance of the maintenance of our heritage in accordance with the Society’s objects.

 

 

KCC Draft Freight Action Plan

Letter sent to
Transport Strategy Team,
Planning and Environment Division,
Kent County Council,
Invicta House,
County Hall,
Maidstone,
Kent ME14 1XX

We are responding to your invitation to comment on the draft Freight Action Plan.  What we want to say doesn’t fit into the questionnaire format so would you please accept this letter as our response.

It is not easy for Counties to control lorry movements using the limited powers available to them within the existing legal framework. The KCC Freight Action Plan makes a fair stab at the problem, drawing together a number of measures that have already been implemented and suggesting a couple of new proposals. But they are not very specific: the document is vague on the details and gives no timescales for implementation. I suggest we confine our response to asking questions rather than questioning the aims or the policy as such.

The Society strongly supports the efforts of the KCC to control undesirable lorry movements together with inappropriate overnight lorry parking. The draft Freight Action Plan mentions several measures that are already in place. However, we would like the draft to be clearer on the new ones so we can comment sensibly on what is being proposed. Our main queries are as follows:

1. What is the total capacity of the proposed new network of lorry parks and how does it measure up against existing facilities? Could the Plan say where they are to be located, and what is the timescale for implementation?

2. The Freight Journey Planner will be useful for operators who don’t know the local road network, especially those based overseas. Could the Freight Action Plan please explain whether there is a strategy for promoting its use among operators and how it will work?

3. The Plan refers to a proposed connected/autonomous vehicle control corridor on the A2/M2 corridor. Could the Report please make clear who is implementing the plan and what is the timescale?

4. Could the Plan prioritise new areas for implementing Lorrywatch schemes?

5. Could the Plan please specify what options are available for Faversham, whose core network of medieval streets is particularly vulnerable to the environmental impact of heavy goods traffic?

We look forward to your reply….

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Background

The KCC Freight Action Plan Consultation Draft can be downloaded from the KCC web site at kent.gov.uk/freightactionplan. The Plan aims to reduce the impact of growing road freight traffic on local communities. It has been prepared by KCC staff under the direction of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Matthew Balfour. The deadline for responses is 12 March 2017.

What the Plan proposes

There are five main actions, most of which are already taking place. Paraphrased, they are:

1. Tackling the problem of overnight lorry parking

2. Finding a long-term solution to Operation Stack

3. Confining HGV routeing where possible to the strategic road network

4. Protecting local communities by restricting access

5. Planning and development control of potentially harmful freight-generating land uses.

Overnight lorry parking

A survey in September 2016 showed that around 700 lorries are illegally parked overnight on principal roads in Kent. The greatest concentration occurs in Swale around the Port of Sheerness. Ashford Borough Council already issues warning notices and penalty charges for illegal lorry parking, and may clamp frequent offenders. Highways England is proposing an overnight lorry park with 500 spaces at its Operation Stack site.

The Action Plan says the KCC ‘is developing a strategy’ for a network of small lorry parks with suitable facilities for overnight stops. They will be priced so as not to compete unfairly with existing commercial sites. No numbers are quoted, there are no indications of where the sites might be, and there is no indication of the timescale for completion.

Operation Stack

Highways England has created the Operation Stack facility at Stanford West off the M20. It has 3600 spaces. Under extreme conditions this will not be enough and the police will still need to store another 3600 vehicles on the east-bound carriageway of the M20, but the west-bound carriageway will remain clear. In 2015 Dover introduced a smaller scheme on the A20 to protect the Town centre.

The KCC Action Plan supports these initiatives but seems not to propose any further action.

HGV routeing

The Department for Transport is promoting the use of new technology that connects vehicles electronically and allows autonomous (‘hands-off’) control.

The KCC Plan says that a scheme for the A2/M2 corridor is being developed, but does not make clear by whom, or by when.

But the KCC has adopted and developed a Freight Journey Planner on-line mapping tool that can be downloaded from freightgateway.co.uk/kent. It is said to feed into lorry satnavs. The map can be configured to show local height, width and weight restrictions, but not parking controls.

Local communities

In general, there are four ways of deterring lorries from entering sensitive areas unsuitable for heavy vehicles:

– width and height restrictions (on environmental grounds)
– height and weight restrictions (to protect bridges)
– advisory signs (flagging roads that are unsuitable for heavy vehicles – not legally enforceable)
– direction signs (encouraging lorries to use a particular route).

In 2012, KCC launched in collaboration with the police and local communities a Lorrywatch scheme in selected areas. Examples are Smarden, Sandwich and Westerham. Local residents are asked to report instances where lorries violate restrictions to the County’s Freight Officer. Repeated violations can lead to prosecution for UK-based vehicles but not those based overseas. Recently schemes have been added in which the Freight Officer contacts firms whose vehicles have been observed flouting the restrictions, but has no legal powers to enforce them. There is no mention of any scheme, mandatory or otherwise, in Swale.

The Freight Action Plan does not appear to recommend any new schemes under this heading.

Development control

A developer can be required by the KCC to produce a Transport Assessment that identifies potentially adverse impacts of freight movements associated with the scheme together with mitigation measures. KCC monitors applications for HGV operator licences and can object.

The Freight Action Plan does not propose any extension to these measures.

 

 

 

Restaurant at No 1 Standard Quay

The Faversham Society does not support the development of a restaurant in Building 1 of Standard Quay. The Society is disappointed that there is to be further gentrification at Standard Quay and that this important quayside townscape is being developed in the way that it is, the extent of car parking and retail in the areas around these iconic buildings detracts from them.  The development of the restaurant will further detract from the conservation area and an important part of Faversham’s maritime heritage is being lost as the quayside becomes a shopping and café/restaurant area. There are also legitimate concerns about the increasing flow of traffic in Abbey Street and a significant flood risk.

The best use for a conserved building is one as close as possible to its original use. A restaurant is far from that. Both the Society’s Planning Committee and the Board have spent time carefully examining the proposal. We have published the outcome of discussions in the Planning Committee (see below). The Board considered the Planning Committee’s analysis and with regret decided not to object to the planning application. Whilst we see no grounds for rejecting the planning application on planning grounds, and do not wish to see the Council required to pay further compensation to the developer, this does not mean that we support the application.

The Planning Inspector’s Decision in January 2014 rejected Swale’s case except on heritage conservation grounds. He pointed out that the “workmanship and utilitarian nature of the building envelope exemplified by the rough and ready quality of its finishes and internal spaces, all contribute to its special architectural interest and to its historic character as part of the wharf.”[1] The Inspector further pointed to the importance of the building’s “form and finishes  …which evokes the long history of the quay..”[2]

The Inspector expressed concern that in order to turn the building into a restaurant, the overall nature of the building would change and that “the overall nature of the building and of the conservation area would be significantly damaged.” The Swale Conservation Officer has secured detailed specifications, in the Heritage Statement, on the internal form and finishing and the Board consequently saw no grounds for rejecting the application.  The focus now shifts to compliance with the conditions placed on the planning permission.

The Society has invited Swale Planners and Enforcement Officers to a members’ evening in the Fleur Hall on February 16th at 19:30. We shall be discussing the Council’s approach to planning compliance and enforcement and we shall be pressing the Council to ensure that all the details so carefully defined in the application will be enforced.  In our view conditions should be attached to the decision – if the decision is to allow the application – and those conditions should be detailed, robust and enforced.

The Society  will object where we can identify planning grounds, once the planning permission passes the issue is compliance.  This may be an example where planning has secured good design – the proof will be in the degree of compliance. If the restaurant were to fail there may well be an application for change of use or further gentrification. The Society will remain vigilant.

The Planning Committee’s report accepted by the Board can be found here

[1] Para 8

[2] Para 10

 

Comments on Bearing Fruits

Two matters are central to our response:

First, the implications of new housing allocations on matters that were already of concern to the Society when we responded previously in August 2016; those concerns are further exacerbated by the new allocations.

Second, the pace of recent and current change in Faversham, which means that new information is now available to augment the Faversham Society’s previous submission. For example, the decision of Swale BC’s Joint Transportation Board to implement innovative measures in the form of a 20mph default speed limit across Faversham and the wider Borough is, we believe, highly relevant. In a similar vein, the Faversham Society’s proposal for a Faversham Neighbourhood Plan, with associated transport strategy and conservation area appraisals, is an example of robust and locally meaningful infrastructure planning that the modified Plan is currently missing.

You can read our full response here