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									                                                      (Your address here)


(insert councilor/council officer’s name here)
Swale Borough Council
Swale House
East Street
Sittingbourne
Kent, ME10 3HT

(Date here)


Dear (insert councilor/council officer’s name here)

Re: Standard Quay/Area Action Plan

In light of planning authorities’ obligation to engage local people in preparing their
Local Development Plans and to produce policies that truly reflect the views and
aspirations of the community, I would like to bring to your attention the following
points regarding the threatened future of traditional boatyard activities at
Faversham’s Standard Quay.

For centuries Standard Quay has been Faversham’s principal quay and survives as
the town’s only traditional working quay. The skills and facilities it offers have made
Faversham a national centre for spritsail barges and other historic vessels which visit
regularly for maintenance and restoration work from as far away as Northern Europe.

These vessels and the exceptional wealth of local expertise that keeps them
returning to Faversham are a precious part of our Kentish - and indeed British -
maritime heritage. Faversham has a proud and historically important boatbuilding
history. As its last remaining working boatbuilding yard, Standard Quay is at the very
heart of the town’s identity, as recognized in Swale’s Faversham Conservation Area
Character Appraisal, 2004 which clearly stated: ‘The continued survival of this small
pocket of traditional character and activity is therefore of crucial importance to the
town’s individuality’.

As agreed by the CreekTeam as part of the Urban Initiatives report, it should play an
‘important part in the regeneration of the town particularly by sustaining and
building on maritime activities…where its distinctive character and identity is rooted
in its traditional industries’.

The more recent Tony Fullwood Area Action Plan report acknowledges that Standard
Quay ‘is one of the key remaining focuses of the historic maritime link with Creek
side and is a regional facility for historic boats and craftsmanship’.

Yet inexplicably, this same report recommends changes to Swale’s planning policy
which, if implemented would beyond any doubt kill Standard Quay as a working
boatyard and, after centuries, result in the unnecessary death of Faversham’s
boatbuilding industry. These include:


1. Standard Quay buildings
The Fullwood document recommends that ‘small scale retail and restaurant uses
would be acceptable’ for the listed weatherboarded shipwright’s sheds and even
raises the possibility of residential use.

However, these timber sheds - used by Faversham’s boatbuilders hundreds of years
ago and barely changed since then - are currently fully occupied by working
shipwrights. Boat building and restoration requires space. Oak planks used in the hull
of a Thames Barge can be 15 metres long, for instance, and these barges have up to
500m2 of sails that must be stored and weatherproofed annually.

In addition, the industrial nature of boatbuilding (which inevitably involves drilling,
craning, welding etc) should be self-evidently totally incompatible with shops and
eateries installed under the same roof.

Permitting future retail, restaurant or residential use would, however, be of clear
benefit to private property speculators. It can only increase the site’s appeal to
developers, push up its value and consequently extinguish any hope of Standard
Quay remaining a ‘regional facility for historic boats and craftsmanship’.

These are listed buildings in a conservation area. Words such as ‘restoration and
‘renovation’ are misleading since these structures have existed in their current form
as basic, utilitarian workshops for many hundreds of years. What is really being
proposed is adaptation or conversion into restaurant, retail or residential premises:
something that would permanently alter their character and devalue their historic
significance.

The Fullwood report claims its proposals ‘should help deliver the provision of
workshop space, including for apprenticeships, at Standard Quay’. In reality, these
proposals pave the way for the quay’s shipwrights – who developed the quay’s
apprentice scheme (the only one of its kind in the country, incidentally) and run it
themselves - to be driven off Standard Quay and possibly away from Faversham,
along with their apprentices. Unless their leases are renewed by Standard Quay’s
current owner (a property development company), the shipwrights will, reluctantly, be
forced to vacate by June 21, 2011. After that date there will be no local apprentice
scheme left to support. A tragedy, since had they been able to stay, this well-funded
and forward-thinking educational initiative would have expanded, keeping traditional
maritime skills and jobs in Faversham.

2. Creek Basin and Swing Bridge

The Creek is part of the extensive Faversham Conservation Area and should itself be
conserved as a navigable waterway. Neglecting the basin, allowing the swing-bridge
to remain permanently closed and leaving the creek inadequately dredged will
accomplish the exact opposite. Without the regular sluicing action produced by
opening the gates, the Creek will continue to silt up and will eventually become
inaccessible. Tony Fullwood’s report writes off any future use of the basin by large
craft, claiming ‘overriding constraints’ as the reason. This is clearly incompatible with
the aim of ‘regeneration by sustaining and building on maritime activities’, which
could only benefit from the creek basin being returned to its former navigable state.

3. Flood designation

Sited by necessity on a flood plain, Standard Quay floods once every 20 years on
average, according to its current flood designation 3B (as identified by the Strategic
Flood Risk Assessment) Only water compatible and essential infrastructure (such the
quay’s existing boatbuilding activities) are generally considered suitable in such
areas.

Downgrading the flood designation to 3a(i) as proposed by Tony Fullwood to
facilitate development unrelated to the Creek, and encouraging restaurant or retail
use of the quay’s traditional weatherboarded buildings will increase the speculative
value of the land at Standard Quay and inevitably drive out the few remaining
traditional creekside boatbuilding businesses.


4. Compulsory purchase

Swale Local Plan Policy B1 (Supporting and Retaining of Existing Employment Land
and Businesses) seeks to retain land and buildings currently in employment use
unless it is inappropriately located, demonstrably no longer suitable or
marketable.

Standard Quay is a demonstrable success as a nationally important centre for
historic boat restoration and repair.

Standard Quay (Faversham) Ltd has asked for the Council for help in progressing a
purchase of the site for ownership by a non-profit, public interest company. Such a
purchase would allow the quay to build upon its current success in providing: the
employment now there (but under threat); new employment; an expansion of the
training; dredging of the area of Creek it uses and real regeneration for further areas
of Faversham Creek.

Incongruously, Tony Fullwood’s report concludes:

9.12 There appears to be little justification for pursuing CPO procedures…In addition,
the recommendations in this report are likely to stimulate regeneration without the
need for compulsory purchase.

The Fullwood report refers to Standard Quay as a ‘Regeneration Priority Area’. Yet it
effectively calls for Swale councillors to allow a successful maritime business
operation and local employer with authentic historic connections and great future
potential to die. Why? To make room for gift shops and cafes (whose likely success
is at best speculative). In what sense could this outcome reasonably be termed
‘regeneration’?

It is the duty of elected councillors to protect Standard Quay’s boatyard activities
from commercial development pressures. To fail to do so would be a crime against
culture, community and common sense.

Faversham will be a poorer place if developers’ profits are allowed to take priority
over the wishes of the many people who appreciate Standard Quay as it is.

The thousands of locals and visitors who already find their way to Standard Quay
each year are drawn by its individuality and authenticity. They have no interest in
ersatz ‘exit through the gift shop’ theme ‘experiences’ masquerading as ‘heritage’.
Real heritage is a living, working traditional boatyard providing local jobs. This is
what Faversham has – for now -- and this is what they come to see. Such places are
few and far between today, thanks to the profitability of waterfront property
development.
These visitors include the many photographers and artists who come to Standard
Quay (whose images of the quay attract interest from all over Britain and beyond).
Tony Fullwood’s proposals threaten a loss of visual amenity, for them and for
everyone else drawn to this working boatyard for aesthetic reasons.

In conclusion, I would like to register my strongest objection to these
recommendations as put forward in Tony Fullwood/AAP document. If incorporated
into the Development Plan Document they would have disastrous consequences for
Faversham and its maritime industry and heritage. Please do not allow Standard
Quay to die as a working boatyard to make room for unnecessary, inappropriate and
damaging development.

Yours sincerely


(Your name and signature here)

								
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