Ordnance Wharf sits within the Faversham Conservation Area. The view of Davington Priory from the creekside footpath would be destroyed by the building proposed.
This image of the Priory taken 18th July from the public footpath on Morrison's Quay reveals that the proposed development would block this iconic view of Davington Priory and the remains of the walls which surrounded the gunpowder factory with a permanent obstruction. The trees currently block some of the view but a) they are impermanent and b) seasonal. The autumnal view below demonstrates this.
This was the view in November 2018
This view was taken in September 2018. It reveals the richness of the flora before the developer tore up the land. It was the developer who despoiled the site with rubble.
This is a view of the same land taken in April 2019 on the left and another part of it very recently on the right.
There is also the question of what the development would look like from Stonebridge Pond. It will tower above the trees. This is the view across Stonebridge Pond towards the creek and Ordnance Wharf.
The developer should provide accurate scale drawings, and photo montages, showing how the proposed development relates to the Purifier Building, the Priory, the walls of the gunpowder works on Flood Lane and the impact of the view across Stonebridge Pond. Calculations demonstrate that the developer’s sketches significantly misrepresent the height of the buildings which will tower over the adjacent Purifier building. This is the sole remaining building of the gas works and is put to excellent use by the Faversham Creek Trust for community boat building, maritime employment and education. The application is of four storeys in contravention of the planning policy for the site.
A detailed Heritage Statement should form part of this application since the Wharf was identified as an undesignated heritage asset under the Creek Neighbourhood Plan, and it also stands within the designated heritage asset of the Faversham Conservation Area. Works that alter it will, therefore, have an effect for better or worse on its architectural/historic character and also on the character of the Conservation Area. A Heritage Statement should be required before the application is considered.
There is very little detail in the submission about the foundations necessary to support the proposed buildings. The walls of the Wharf are crumbling, and significant works will be required to stabilise the Wharf. Ordnance Wharf has previously never borne substantial buildings. Some of the masonry in the wharf retaining wall appears to be archaeologically significant, with bricks supported on timber, and should be restored rather than obscured by piling. We submit that a schedule of works is required for the repair and strengthening of the historic wharf walls. Piling is likely to further damage the revetment and may put at risk the stability of the adjacent Purifier building.
The small tongue of land on which Ordnance Wharf is built was formed by the scour of the two channels on either side, stirring up silt, and the slack water between the two channels causing the deposition of this silt. Ordnance Wharf is, in short, a mud bank. In Jacob's 1774 map of Faversham, it is a simple, roughly triangular spit. The 1822 map shows the natural form of a mud bank. By 1842, however, according to the well-surveyed tithe map of 1842, it has a regular squared- off shape implying the building of a revetment, and it is named Island Wharf, which implies usage by vessels. The 1867 map (below) shows this artificial form very clearly. The revetting is brick, and a great deal of hardcore must have been deposited inside the brick walls to create a flat and firm surface.
The Council should ensure that accurate ownership details of the site are provided by the applicant as the site is understood to be in multiple ownership.
The development is described as three-storey. In fact, it is four storeys with parking on the ground floor. [A storey describes any level part of a building with a floor that could be used by people (for living, work, storage, recreation, et cetera). The Ordnance Wharf Site Specific Policies in the local plan [OW2] specifies "no new building shall be more than three storeys in height."
The accommodation is very large and much larger than an average three-bedroom house. The proposal is not warehouse in style it is rather similar in kind to the housing which has been built all along the creek undermining the town's gateway sense of place.
The description of the area as "industrial and commercial" is inaccurate as is evident from a cursory look at a street map or at the comments on the application there is a large number of homes local to the site.
The flood risk is greater than acknowledged in the application. Spring tides regularly overtop the banks on the east side of Faversham Creek as well as the nearby sluices between the Creek and Stonebridge Pond. The site is in an area already designated as High Risk by the Environment Agency, which means that it may be difficult to insure properties built there, and the risk will only increase as a result of the continued rise in sea levels that is projected in coming decades. KCC currently estimates that that rise will be 0.8m by 2080.
No mention is made of the plans for the regeneration of the creek by creating employment opportunities through maritime heritage, boat building and restoration, and tourism.
This housing development is incompatible with the development of the basin for maritime regeneration, a purpose for which a considerable public investment is imminent. KCC is preparing to install a moveable bridge to permit the movement of barges and other craft in and out of the basin providing access to the Purifier Building. Councils are preparing to spend millions of pounds installing an opening bridge to facilitate regeneration through marine and other associated employment. Local people raised £125,000 for maritime regeneration of the creek basin. If the land around the basin is used for housing development, then there will be resentment in town that the principle beneficiaries will be a property developer and the occupants of a small number of expensive dwellings.
Housing is not sustainable development. Construction briefly creates jobs but housing does not create employment or economic regeneration. With very large numbers of new houses being built around Faversham and more expected, 7 expensive dwellings makes no significant contribution to meeting housing targets set by central government and will certainly not meet local housing need.
Plans for the installation of an opening bridge to permit large craft to enter the basin are at an advanced stage. The public subscription of £125,000 was raised in a few months on the promise that a swing bridge would bring maritime regeneration. KCC, Swale and Faversham Town Council all supported this regeneration plan and agreed to fund it.
Just this week our MP secured the backing of Transport Ministry Kelly Tolhurst for the scheme for creek regeneration. The regeneration plans are backed by three layers of local government and by national government. If this application is approved, the creek regeneration plan cannot be realised. We do not think that it is the responsibility of the planning system to enable developers to profit from unwise speculative investments in land. Public money, both from taxation and public subscription, should be used for public benefit. If this planning application is approved and the swing bridge is installed the public value will have been transferred to the developer.
In March 2020, Faversham community groups working with the Environment Agency (EA) installed eel passes on the sluices that feed the two branches of Faversham Creek 20-30m upstream of Ordnance Wharf. The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a Critically Endangered species. The EA has identified improved passibility of sluices and other barriers to be the biggest contribution that the UK can make to eel conservation, and the Kent Nature Partnership has identified improved access to freshwater habitat for eels as one of its immediate priorities. Nothing should be done at Ordnance Wharf that has a negative impact on eel movements, including in particular the annual arrival of migrating elvers seeking access to the freshwater habitat in Stonebridge Pond and beyond. That should include assessing the impact that artificial lighting from any new development on Ordnance Wharf might have on arriving elvers (which navigate by the moon) or on mature silver eels as they leave Stonebridge Pond at the start of their marathon journey to the Sargasso Sea.
Given its location and the fact that the land has been undisturbed for several decades, a comprehensive biodiversity assessment of the site should be conducted before planning permission is considered.
Ordnance Wharf is a prominent Creekside site at the edge of the historic core and any development should either have a minimalist, unobtrusive style or reflect the varied vernacular architecture of the town as analysed/established by the Duchy for their potential development. Faversham Creek is not a street but some of its banks have unfortunately been developed with brick and weather boarded housing of a standard design that has contributed nothing to Faversham’s sense of place. To permit more such housing on the Creek is to compound the errors of the recent past and cause further harm to Faversham’s individuality.
There is limited street parking, and the use of car parking spaces for dinghies cannot be permitted if Swale parking standards are to be complied with. For properties of this value two car parking spaces per property and some visitor parking should be required. There is very limited on-street parking available locally. KCC points out that there is not the 6m reversing space.
The FCNP OW4 requires public moorings. The proposal does not include public moorings. Nor could any be included due to the fact that moorings are prohibited by covenant on the Purifier side of OW and access to other sides is restricted by the proposed housing.
Vehicular access on to Brent Road/Hill will be problematic particularly given the proposed shared use of Flood Lane for vehicles and pedestrians. Flood Lane provides essential access for residents from the Upper Brent estate to Morrisons and provides a smooth and safe route for pushchairs, prams and wheelchairs. The tarmac should not be removed and no obstruction of the PROW should be permitted during the construction period or subsequently. .
Particular attention needs to be paid to the evacuation of sewage and wastewater from the site. It goes without saying that there should be no releases of any sort into the Tidal Basin.
Is there sufficient access for fire engines in the event of a fire on Ordnance Wharf?
Bollards prevent through vehicular traffic along Flood Lane and for safety and amenity reasons they must be retained.
Is the bridge on Flood Lane closest to Brent Road strong enough to carry the construction traffic that would need to cross it to access the site?
Ordnance Wharf was part of the town's gunpowder industry; the clue is in the name. The Wharf lies between the two outflows from Stonebridge Pond that powered the watermills which ground gunpowder. The proposed development makes no contribution to maintaining and interpreting this important part of our heritage. FCNP OW8 requires that "the development should be designed to preserve or enhance evidence of the site's historic role as part of the Home Works as wharfs" and "provision for the conservation of the 18th Century wharf walls and stone crane base with a wharf-edge space and revealing identified archaeological remains and publicly accessible space." The proposed development will obliterate that heritage.
On pages 7 & 14 of their report ,Ground and Environmental Services Ltd recommend further intrusive investigation of the site for ground contamination. It seems there was limited investigation below the former oil tanks; there must surely be a risk of leakage into the creek, and possibly groundwater as works are undertaken
This 1952 diagram of the Wharf suggests that there is good reason for concern
Professor Ian Grant in his objection notes that the EA requires more detail on flood risk and Groundwater Protection. We agree.
The site is not suitable for a dingy sailing club as is explained in Eldon Hinchcliffe's objection and in conclusive detail in the Faversham Creek Trust's submission. We regard this part of the proposal to be no more than an inappropriate and impractical gesture. It is likely that the club would fail and be repurposed for the benefit only of the residents.
There are no details of the community use nor ownership of the café and meeting room. More detail is required to demonstrate that this is a serious intent and can be achieved. Or is it the case that the community use is to be restricted to residents and their guests?
The Faversham Society is implacably opposed to this development for all the reasons cited above.
Before permission is granted there needs to be a thorough assessment made of contamination risk given that part of the Purifier for the gas works was sited on Ordnance Wharf.
If the development is permitted SBC needs to ensure that the public rights of way be legally protected. SBC holds legal title [K708886] over some of the land included in the development. Legal title  included a covenant guaranteeing: "A right of way at all times and for all purposes over and along " Flood Lane.
Legal title K549889 included a covenant protecting free access to the creek. If planning permission is granted then this right needs to be protected in the permission to ensure access rights for the Faversham Creek Trust at the Purifier Building and for barges to moor beside the Purifier Building once the opening bridge is installed.
The proposed walkway on both sides of the development and the under croft passage should be legally defined as unrestricted, public rights of way. The development is almost a gated community which will deter people from entering as has occurred in the developer's properties on Belvedere Rd.
A covenant is required to safeguard the current uses as per the planning conditions for the Purifier. Otherwise, there is a risk that residents in the accommodation will seek to remove industrial use. The planning consent for the Purifier permits heavy metalwork.
There is apparently no §106 gain despite the fact that the developer will secure substantial benefits from the local councils’ and residents’ funding for the moveable bridge. As the principal beneficiary of the opening bridge, the developer should be required to make a substantial contribution to the cost of the bridge, sluices and dredging of the basin.
It is clear from comments on this website and elsewhere that the alternative vision for regeneration of the basin has been forgotten by many. For many years Ordnance Wharf was green, only in the last couple of years has it become an eyesore.
The Faversham Society Board has not yet determined its view of the proposed development on Ordnance Wharf. However, many are already objecting and talking about the proposed development. This is merely a list of reasons people are giving for objecting.
This image of the Priory taken 18th July from the public footpath on Morrison's Quay reveals that the proposed development would block this iconic view with a permanent obstruction. The trees currently block some of the view but a) they are impermanent and b) seasonal. The developer has not provided the scale contextual drawings that would normally be expected and which would reveal this impact.
There is also the question of what it will look like from Stonebridge Pond, it will tower above the trees
This photograph shows the view in winter.
PLANNING APPLICATION no 20/502408/FULL – ERECTION of DWELLINGS, OFFICE,
This application should be refused, because it is too tall. The applicants probably know this because they have made two attempts to decieve regarding the height. Firstly they describe the buildings as 2 – 3 storeys when they are 3 – 4 storeys. The ground floor storey may only have parking spaces and entrance lobbys but it is still a storey. Then there are another three floors with the top floor being attics in steeply sloping roofs. That makes 3 – 4 storeys. Also, on drawing no 2620/PL/20/14 according to their scale bars, they have drawn the adjoining Purifier building as having a ground to eaves height of 7.5 metres when it is only 6.2 metres on its longer wing. That's an exaggeration of its height by 121%. And all the trees stamped in the background make it look like a setting in the Chiltern Hills. That's a good enough reasion to reject it, but there is more.
The scheme is predicated on the need to justify building dwellings on an unsuitable creekside site. Therefore, some form of maritime use is required and they came up with - a dinghy sailing club! A less suitable type of maritime use for Faversham Creek is hard to imagine. A dinghy sailing club requires a waterside site looking over a large enough body of water to stage dinghy racing. The officer of the day needs to be able to supervise the racing, rescue boats, launching arrangements, etc from the clubhouse. So they are sited in places like Seasalter, Whitstable, or on the shores of largish lakes. None of that will be possible from Ordnance Wharf and the dinghys will impede the development of the Creek Basin for the use of larger maritime craft such as sailing barges, fishing smacks and the like.
The dwellings overlook the Purifier Building to the West and the car park to BMM Weston to the East. This will be prejudicial to the activities in the Purifier Building, which will increase once the new creek bridge is working and also prejudicial to any suitable maritime use of the BMM Weston car park for two reasons. Firstly, residents in the dwellings will complain about any noise from the Purifier Building and object to workshop development on the car park. Secondly, if this application is approved it will set a precident for residential development there, so the basin will be a lost cause and Faversham Creek will become irrelevant for maritime use. The reason for spending public money on the bridge is to develop the basin in a manner that will revive Faversham's maritime heritage. It is not for the benefit of greedy housing developers.
Vehicular access to the site is via Flood Lane and a dangerous junction with Brent Road/Brent Hill. There will be too many vehicle movements.
Ordnance Wharf was closely linked to the gunpowder works that were situated in the area now occupied by Stonebridge Pond and allotments during the 18th and 19th Centuries, hence its name. It was probably only used for unloading gunpowder ingredients for use in the adjoining mills then loading the finished products. After a short spell as a shipyard it became the site of the Guiseley purifiers in the town's expanding gas works, so is a very important part of Faversham's past heritage. After the gas works closed when North Sea gas became available three oil storage tanks were installed. These last two uses will have caused considerable pollution of Ordnance Wharf, making it unsuitable for housing. There will have to be extensive, and expensive, piled foundations for a building on the scale proposed, rather than the type of building illustrated on the cover of one of the Archaeological Reports showing the Cornelius Shipyard, a type of development which would be ideal for Faversham Creek Basin. The high expense is acknowledged in the architect's Design and Access Statement at the bottom of page 1 where it says, - “The most important element being the housing, which has to generate sufficient income to cover the very high costs of the site development.”
This is putting the cart before the horse with an unsuitable development for the site. On page 4 of the D & A Statement the architect states, - “The site is situated within an industrial and commercial area in close proximity to Faversham Town Centre.” The type of development favoured by organisations promoting the use of Faversham Creek for the benefit of the town, would be maritime workshops and the like. This would attract tourists, so close proximity to the town centre is very important.
The developer's agent suggests that, - “7 no residential units, to help housing needs and specifically to make the site a viable proposition, due to the high costs of the site development.” These dwellings do not provide for Faversham's housing needs, as they will be very expensive so will only be affordable to wealthy people. In any case there are well over a thousand new houses under construction in Faversham, very few of which are 'affordable'. Three bedroom houses should have private gardens, which these don't; because they can't, being a development unsuitable for the site.
I therefore very much hope that this planning application, like previous applications, will be refused.
Ordnance Wharf Flood Lane Faversham Kent ME13 7DY
Ref. No: 20/502408/FULL | Received: Thu 04 Jun 2020 | Validated: Tue 30 Jun 2020 | Status: Awaiting decision
Erection of a part three storey, part two storey building comprising of 5no. dwellings and an office and training workshop facility, and a three storey building comprising of a sailing clubroom, bar and cafe and 2no. dwellings, including 14 No. parking/sailing dinghy storage spaces and creation of a public access to the southeast end of the Wharf.
The application can be downloaded here
The Faversham Society submitted an application for listing to Historic England. Ray Harrison wrote the application for us. Despite our best endeavours listing was not granted.
The Wharf received incoming materials for gunpowder manufacture and exported the finished product in barrels. It acted as the gathering point for materiel produced within the whole of the Home and Hill works (for their full extent see p VI). From it cargoes of gunpowder were carried down the Creek in purpose-built barges for transhipment to sea-going vessels further down, for onward transport to various other government arms depots.
“Faversham was one of the leading centres of the British gunpowder industry for over 300 years. The earliest factory in the town was founded in the 16th century and indeed Faversham may have been the birthplace of the British industry….” The Faversham Works (and hence Ordnance Wharf) had more than local significance. It was the first of the ‘Royal’ gunpowder works and saw important early experiments to improve the quality of gunpowder nationally. Its ‘daughter’ works, Waltham Abbey in Essex (5), was founded somewhat later, initially following the pattern of Faversham. The Waltham Abbey Works is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and contains a SSSI.
At the local level the wharf is not only historically significant in its own right but also, in association with the other surviving features, mostly infrastructure elements, of the historic gunpowder works. These are set out above and some are discussed further below. The two early c19 low red brick bridges at the end of the docks to each side of the Wharf are an integral part of its final overall plan. Both were formerly open to water on both sides. Both contain set back within them the ends of two later reduced diameter brick culverts leading to the two current outflow sluices from Davington Pond.
The Lower and Bennetts Mills’ mill bases on their dam with Stonebridge Pond and the wider Works site behind them, the dam itself (expressed in the drop of some 6 or 7 feet from pond level down to high tide level in the probable former wheel pit, now sluice) and the intimate functional relationship of all this to Flood Lane and the purpose built powder despatch point of Ordnance Wharf, make for a unique grouping. Considered together these features are locally historically significant. They extend finite understanding of the former gunpowder manufacturing process within Faversham’s town centre, augmenting that available currently at the Scheduled Chart Mills site.
Each mill stone base of the Lower and Bennetts Mills is also of historic interest in its own right. What we see today are successors to the first mills at the sites, which as noted may have been introduced in the early 1690s, p19. It is likely that a number stand on their original sites. And in addition to the valuable above ground survivals of brick bases and bed stones, ‘Mills required very substantial footings, as they were often built on man-made ground…(a) drawing of a mill at Waltham Abbey shows brick foundations…resting on timber piles. In some later buildings, the mill beds themselves rested on deep brickwork foundations.., or elm posts might be found under a machinery base. (6)
Reasons for Designation:
It is understood that the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan adopted by Swale Council, recommended that Ordnance Wharf be accorded undesignated heritage asset status, a move supported then by English Heritage. It is suggested that in fact the structure (including its bridges to each side) has a level of historic significance, both locally and regionally, that makes it worthy of the same designated heritage asset protection as the Grade II listed brick security walls on Brent Hill road and along Flood Lane. Like parts of them it is an industrial infrastructure feature of relatively early modern date. It is suggested that it is of at least equal intrinsic historic interest to the security walls. It was the unique point of export/import for the Royal Works - a place of particular activity where the closed and outside worlds met. The Wharf’s historic significance is additionally enhanced by its close proximity to, and original working relationship with, the Lower and Bennetts powder Mills.
The five mill bases etc of the Lower Mills recently fully exposed, can now be seen for what they are - a series of related individual historic powder mill bases and some bed stones, adjacent to each other and on their original sites. It is argued that each is worthy of statutory listing for its intrinsic historic interest. In addition, as a group the bed-stones, some in their c1790 positions, form the almost complete range (5 out of 6) present within one building at the Mill’s time of maximum productivity. The significance of the mill bases is further enhanced by their close proximity to Ordnance Wharf.
The two surviving adjacent bed-stones of Bennetts Mills appear to be in their c1790 positions and are intact, unlike any of those at the Lower Mills. Again it is argued that they are worthy of statutory listing for their intrinsic historic interest, their significance being enhanced by their close proximity to Ordnance Wharf.
Faversham has a wealth of Gunpowder Heritage with many structures around the town as a reminder of the importance of gunpowder in our history not least Stonebridge Pond, and three museums: the Chart Gunpowder Mill, the Gunpowder Room in the Fleur, the Marsh Works, and the Oare Gunpowder Works.
More than 30 people attended, many members and residents plus Canterbury Christ Church University, Faversham Creek Trust, Faversham Historians, FSARG, Faversham Town Council, Lees Court Estate, Medway & Swale Boating Association, Oare Gunpowder Works, Swale Borough Council (Economy and Community Services) University of Kent, SWAT Archaeology.
John Owen spoke on Faversham and the Defence of the Realm pointing out that Faversham is closer to the French coast than to Trafalgar Square and that Faversham had contributed men and materials to many wars. The East Kent Impress Officer Admiral Keeler lived in the town and men from Faversham were pressed for naval service as well as to provide skilled workers to the Naval dockyards and the line of ordnance: Sheerness, Chatham, Deptford and Woolwich.
The early years of Faversham gunpowder production are not well documented, there are C16th references but nothing in the early C17th. Daniel Judd began production in 1655. In 1667 UK production of gunpowder amounted to 36,000 barrels of which 2,500 (7%) were produced in Faversham. Gunpowder was important to the prosperity of the town but demand, production and employment fluctuated wildly depending on to what extent it was required for conflict. However, in the early C19th gunpowder provided perhaps 20% of male employment in Faversham. By the 1820's it employed only 20 men.
Pat Reid then talked about the archaeology of Ordnance Wharf, situated between two outlet channels from the former Gunpowder works that correspond to the two main mills, Lower Mills to the east and Bennett Mills to the west. This small tongue of land was formed by the scour of these two channels either side, stirring up silt, and the slack water between the two channels causing the deposition of this silt. Ordnance Wharf is, in short, a mud bank. In Jacob’s 1774 map of Faversham, it is a simple, roughly triangular spit. The 1822 map shows the natural form of a mud bank. By 1842, however, according to the well-surveyed tithe map of 1842, it has a regular squared off shape implying the building of a revetment, and it is named Island Wharf, which implies usage by vessels. The 1867 map shows this artificial form very clearly. The revetting is brick, and a great deal of hardcore must have been deposited inside the brick walls to create a flat and firm surface.
Pat covered the site's more recent history: The building, nowadays known as the Purifier, was built to manage the purification process but the actual Guiseley purifiers, which produced toxic waste material (cyanide), were on Ordnance Wharf, as it had become known. Gas production ceased in 1957 and the purifiers were removed, although the site continued to be used for storage and repairs until 1992. Ordnance Wharf was left as a derelict and potentially toxic site.
The Society has a number of papers published on Faversham and gunpowder.
Faversham Society Heritage Meetings
October 1st TS Hazard - the C15th Town Warehouse
October 2nd Ordnance Wharf and Gunpowder
Please come along and participate in these roundtable meetings to discuss how best to make the most of this heritage for the future. We want to hear your ideas.
On the 1st and 2nd of October have two important members and guests meetings, both starting in the Fleur at 19:30. At each meeting, John Owen will set the historical context and then others will contribute on the conservation aspects and there will be an open discussion about how best the Society can engage to ensure that this heritage survives for our children, and their children, and how we can celebrate and enhance that heritage now.
Monday 1st October: Is there potential for a new maritime museum in TS Hazard, the C15th Town Warehouse? A heritage centre or museum featuring Faversham’s maritime history, trade, the Graveney Boat and the Cinque Ports.
Tuesday 2nd October: the importance of Ordnance Wharf, the creek basin and the Gunpowder heritage of Faversham. What more can we do to celebrate and conserve the heritage and to raise awareness of Ordnance Wharf?
These are unticketed events.
The Fleur Hall is behind the Fleur in Preston Street. From Preston Street go down Gatefield Lane and left into a small car park just before the Faversham Club. The Fleur Hall is upstairs across the car park