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Faversham Society News - May 2024

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Chairman's Column

Harold Goodwin

Artist’s impression of the Duchy of Cornwall’s vision for southeast Faversham. The Duchy of Cornwall says the development would be a ‘mixed-income, mixed-use sustainable community of 2,500 homes together with jobs’

I begin by apologising for the lateness of this newsletter this month. A quarterly board meeting was held on 30 April and I wanted to be sure that what is written here reflects the views of the board.

As some, perhaps many, or you will know the long-anticipated detailed plans for the Duchy of Cornwall development in southeast Faversham have finally appeared on the Swale Council Planning Portal.

You can see them there, reference 23/505533/EIHYB. This planning application is unusual in that it is in two parts. 1 Full planning permission for Phase 1 of a mixed-use residential-led development of 261 homes; and 2 Outline for the remaining phases of the mixed-use residential-led development, including retail, hotel, commercial, business, and employment uses.

For each further phase of the whole development, likely to take 20 years, there will need to be further planning applications subject to national and local planning policy at that time.

Our success in defeating speculative developments in Faversham has rested on the cases we have made against development on planning grounds following careful analysis of the facts. In September 2021, we hosted a public meeting at St Mary of Charity Parish Church about the Duchy’s plans. The board agreed on the statement we posted on our policy blog on 29 June 29, which includes the following.

“Housing targets are set by central government and do not reflect local needs, particularly for locally affordable housing for families. Central government has several powers to ensure compliance by local planning authorities. There is insufficient viable brownfield land available to build the housing required by central government. Unless the central government reduces the demands it is placing on Swale, new housing will have to be built on green fields.

“The Faversham Society is opposed to all large-scale housing developments on greenfield land adjacent to the beautiful mediaeval market town of Faversham. This includes proposals from the Duchy of Cornwall and two other major developers to build 3,500 houses on productive farmland to the Southeast of the town.”

The town has been here before.  Swale turned down the Perry Court application and lost on appeal; we lost all influence over what was subsequently developed.

Given the unusual and substantive detail in the southeast Faversham planning application, Swale planners will take several months to complete their review. We have been assured by the council that objections and questions raised through the portal will inform their review for the foreseeable future, as has been their practice, for example, with the Cleve Hill solar power station at Graveney.

It is also clear that, later this year, we shall see proposals from developers for other large-scale developments around Faversham and, following the general election, another National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF), with a strong presumption for housing development. There is almost no land available for development on Sheppey. Councillors to the west of the borough favour development around Faversham, and they have the majority at Swale Council.

When we discussed our position on the Duchy in June 2022, it was recognised that the Duchy development was likely to be the “least bad” option. A development at  North Street and a new one to the north of the A2 will likely come forward in response to Swale’s call for sites for the Local Plan. The Duchy development is a strategic site agreed in the last local plan process, as was the Vinson farm land to the east of Love Lane. The Faversham Community Land Trust managed to get changes in the balance of housing on that site.

The Duchy development has been masterplanned with great detail. It requires a detailed review, which the society’s Environment and Planning Committee has commenced and will report to the board.

The board will need to decide later in the year about its position on the Duchy development when we see the new NPPF from Westminster and in the context of the other developments being put forward for the next Swale Local Plan. I assume that the board’s decision will be based on assessing the facts and objectively assessing the alternative schemes proposed in the call for sites for the next Swale Local Plan.

In the meantime, the board remains opposed to all development on greenfield land. The board does not have a position on the current Duchy proposal as it has not discussed it in the necessary detail. Its decision in June 2022 remains our position unless and until the board changes it.  I hope there will be a conversation with members before any decision is made.

On other planning matters, Swale’s decision to oppose the moving of the war memorial cross at the corner of Roman Road and Stone Street has been challenged and an appeal is now before a Planning Inspector. The Faversham Society has repeated its opposition and pointed to the town’s lack of public support for the change.

As expected, the developers of the Cleve Hill Solar facility have appealed against the decision by the Swale Planning Committee not to approve their battery management system on safety grounds. The society’s Environment and Planning Committee will continue to monitor these two appeal processes and further the society’s policy decisions as and when practicable. We publish all our positions on planning matters on the policy blog – easily found on our website.

Details of our series of conversations are included below. Do come along. We expect that these conversations will shed light, rather than generate heat, on some of the vital issues confronting our town and its residents. Later in the year, I hope that there will be a conversation about the Duchy proposal for southeast Faversham and the other sites coming forward in the call for sites, part of the Local Plan process conducted by Swale.

Plans for Open Faversham are progressing rapidly, and there are plenty of new and interesting events planned—more in the next edition of this newsletter along with further details of our AGM on Wednesday 12 June. I hope that you all have the date in your diary.

I will write one more piece as the chairman for the June Faversham Society Newsletter before stepping down at the AGM. I will remain a board member and stand for election to the vice chair.


Conversations about Faversham’s Future

Will Cleve Hill be safe? Join the conversation on 15 May

In May and June, the Faversham Society will host a series of conversations in the Alexander Centre on four subjects of vital importance to our community and the future of our town. If you can, please join us and sign up online at favershamsociety.org or in the Visitor Information Centre at 12 Market Place, Faversham.  The bar will be open after each event to enable attendees to talk further with speakers and other participants. Here are the topics to be discussed:

1 But Will It Be Safe? Cleve Hill solar park and the battery energy storage system, Wednesday, 15 May, 7pm. Host: David Melville. The solar park is now under construction but the safety and management plan for the proposed battery energy storage system (Bess) has been turned down by Swale Council’s Planning Committee. As one of the largest such batteries in the world it raises huge concerns because of the danger of fires, explosions and toxic fumes threatening nearby communities.

2 Medieval Heritage and Town Centre Regeneration: Town Quay and the Town Warehouse, Wednesday, 29 May, 7pm. Hosts: Harold Goodwin and Jonathan Carey. The ownership of Town Quay and the Town Warehouse (TS Hazard) has just been transferred by Swale Council to Faversham Town Council. A number of schemes are proposed for the land, including creation of a Cinque Ports museum and environmental education centre highlighting local features such as chalk streams and tidal marshes.

3 The Future We Want: Faversham Neighbourhood Plan, Wednesday, 5 June, 7pm. Hosts: Harold Goodwin and Matthew Hatchwell. Neighbourhood plans provide a powerful set of tools for local people to decide the development priorities for their community. The Faversham Neighbourhood Plan will be the subject of a local referendum in coming months and, if approved, will give the town a degree of control
over – among other things – the type and location of new housing that takes place.

4 Faversham Healthy Futures: Acting locally to safeguard vital health and care services, Wednesday, 3 July, 7pm. Hosts: Laurie McMahon and Gill Wagstaff. The goals of the interactive Faversham Health Futures event are to review the way NHS and care services are delivered, explore the need to localise and integrate services, and give the people of Faversham and surrounding villages a say in how local health and care services should develop in future.

Ticketing details via the Society main web site here or sign up at the Visitor Information Centre at 12 Market Place.

Artists cast light on dank subway

Jane Seckker

The much-maligned railway subway that links Preston Street with The Mall will have a brighter future starting this summer.

The underpass – now dank, smelly and generally uninviting – was built in 1898 to replace a footbridge. It has been plagued by vandalism and flooding and was shut for several years in the early 2000s for refurbishment.

Now a Kent-based artist, Graham Upton, is being commissioned to decorate both sides of the subway with a mural. He will be working with design ideas contributed by pupils at the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, the Abbey School and interested residents.

Graham produced fantastic artwork to decorate other stations in the area, including a particularly atmospheric design at Swale Halt station on the way to the Isle of Sheppey.

The project is being backed by the Faversham Society and follows the successful funding bid from Network Rail’s Green Fund. Graham was introduced at a meeting in Faversham Guildhall on 11 April hosted by Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent, and representatives from a small working group that also includes Network Rail, West Faversham Community Association, and the town council.

A follow-up workshop for residents will be held – at a date to be confirmed. If you are interested in contributing your ideas. You can see a sample of the work that Graham has produced on his Instagram account, @shade2_uk.

The subway mural – protected with anti-graffiti paint – will be produced by Graham working with a team of pupils and residents in early summer. There are also plans to undertake a deep clean of the subway and to look to resolve some of the drainage issues, as well as explore installing CCTV. Further details of the workshop for residents to contribute their design ideas will be published in due course.

And any budding artists will also be invited to take part in the mural’s creation, under Graham’s guidance. I, for one, will be signing up!

Celebration of ‘Jacke’ Wilson, a musician to two kings

Paul Moorbath

This year is the 350th anniversary of the death of John Wilson, principal composer for the King’s Men. He was born in Abbey Street in 1595, near St Mary of Charity Church, and probably a chorister there.

His work will be celebrated with a performance by Galliarda, with voices, viol, lute and recorder, in the parish church at 7pm on Saturday, 25 May.

The concert brings to together Wilson’s songs and vocal works from all periods of his life, including stage and masque productions. Wilson’s distinctly English music appeals to a wide range of music-lovers.

He was made a doctor of music at Oxford in 1644. He composed more than 300 songs, and many were published in 1652.

Wilson joined Shakespeare’s company in 1605 and took roles in his plays. He was a composer and lutenist and became a King’s Musician at the court of Charles I and Charles II and became a favourite.

As I reported in detail last August, Wilson has another link to the Bard. In the First Folio of 36 Shakespeare plays a stage direction appears in Much Adoe [sic] About Nothing: “Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Jacke Wilson.” By mistake the printer used the name of the actor Jacke Wilson instead of the character Balthazar. The Abbey Street house is long demolished. A plaque marks the site but contains an error: the first Master of the King’s Music was Nicholas Lanier, not Wilson.

D-day 80 years on

Neil Tonge

D-Day – 6 June 1944 – took months of planning and huge risks. Its outcome, 11 months later in May 1945, was the defeat of Nazi Germany.

This year, on Tuesday 4 June, Mike Cosgrove will be giving a talk at the Alexander Centre about how these plans came into being. It will outline what was required; how quickly the invasion was consolidated after the first landing; why Hitler failed to stop the Allies’ advance; and why it took so long for Allied victory.

Mike has a long interest in military history. His most recent publication is Snakes and Ladders – British Second World War Generals, a retrospective.

Join him at the Alexander Centre, at 7pm on 4 June. Tickets are £6 from thealex.org.uk

May 1, 2024

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The Faversham Society Newsletter is edited by Stephen Rayner, who is independent of the board.

Contributions are welcomed, and should be received by midday on the 15th of the month before publication, by email to favnewsletter@gmail.com. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Faversham Society or of the editor. All contributions will be edited and the editor’s decision is final.

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