01795 534542
The Society is re-opening after lockdown. The Heritage Centre, Gallery and Fleur Hall remain closed.  The VIC in Preston Street is open Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 4pm, and on Sundays from 10am to 1pm. We shall open on more days as our volunteers return or new ones join us. The Secondhand Bookshop is open Mondays 10:00-13:00, and Tuesday to Saturday 10:00- 15;30
If you love Faversham, join us. We seek to Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Create for the Future

Housing in Faversham

The Faversham Society has undertaken an assessment of all the sites which have been put forward by landowners and developers as potential house building sites.

We would welcome you additions and corrections - please do take a look at the sites with which you are familiar and contact us with you comments.

The Faversham Society would like its members and Faversham residents to engage with the Neighbourhood Plan which the Town Council is developing. It is our best chance of shaping Faversham the way we want it to go, to conserve what is best about our town and to improve it for the future.

The report completed for the Faversham Community Land Trust by Arc4 clearly demonstrated that there is a substantial amount of local housing need

Faversham Community Land Trust Housing Needs Assessment

Kent Conservative MPs, although not Helen Whately, have written to the Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The complete letter can be accessed here.

The landscape of Faversham has been given a boost through the recent completion of a £1.9m joint Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund project to restore historic features and improve facilities at Faversham Recreation Ground. As part of this Parks for People programme, the heritage of the Rec. is being explored.

Ben Simon, Activity Co-ordinator at Swale Borough Council, has already unearthed some wonderful details about the site. For example in 1863, an estimated audience of 5,000 attended celebrations to mark the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark that included speeches, a tree planting ceremony and a train running over fog signals placed on the adjacent railway in imitation of a 21 gun salute. Another glimpse into the past is provided in a report of 1869 that ‘the use of velocipedes be disallowed in the Recreation Ground, as being somewhat dangerous.’ Velocipedes were an early form of bike, and some 70 years later, in 1939, there was a craze for roller skating at the Rec. which also resulted in heated debates about safety. According to a newspaper of the time, the paths were hardly safe for pedestrians and the noise of skates was almost unbearable for residents of Park Road!

Ben is keen to chat to anyone who can recall the Rec. in times gone by. Do you remember the First World War tank that stood on a plinth at the corner of Park Road and Whitstable Road? What happened to the drinking fountain which incorporated a lovely carving of a robed girl holding an amphora? What about the air raid shelters in the Rec? Or can you remember the gardeners and park staff who lived at the lodge? Memories of children’s games, sporting events and the impressive barbecues held at the site in the 1950s are also sought. If you can help, please contact Ben at bensimon@swale.gov.uk or on 07925 148303.  To ensure complete safety from coronavirus, Ben can talk to you on the phone, on WhatsApp or Skype.

As part of the Memories of the Rec project, Ben is also keen to know if anyone has old family photos or pictures of the recreation ground that he could borrow and copy, to use in displays and publications about the site. If you can assist, he would love to hear from you.

Chris Wright was asked to look into the implications of this for Faversham. This is his report.

What is being proposed

The project is being carried out by the RiverOak Strategic Partnership (RSP).  Quoting from its web site:

‘Our proposal is to reopen Manston as a global freight hub, enabling the airport to fulfil its role in helping the UK trade across the globe and to import vital and time-sensitive goods, including fresh fruit and medical supplies.’

In fact the airport will accommodate passenger traffic as well as freight traffic, but the passenger traffic will form only a small proportion of the total. 

Time scale

The airport terminal will be rebuilt over a period of 15 years, with 19 stands for cargo aircraft and 4 stands for passenger aircraft.  The company expects to gain approval for its air traffic management proposals in 2022; they are currently under negotiation with the UK Civil Aviation Authority.  Once agreed, the flight paths can’t be changed by the airport operator unless re-negotiated with CAA.

The consultation process

The planning process for a major change in air space takes place in 7 stages.  Stage 2 is approaching completion.  It has involved consultation with local authorities in the Thanet area, many of whom support the scheme because it will create employment for local people.  Consultation with the wider public will take place during stage 3, which is likely to start towards the end of this year.

Aircraft movements

As with most airports, there will be two categories of aircraft movement at Manston: (i) ‘general aviation’ (light aircraft including recreational traffic) (ii) commercial cargo and passenger airliners.  There will be no night traffic between 11 pm and 6 am.  

Management of air space

Flights over the UK are subject to restrictions laid down by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which is currently developing a plan to modernise our national airspace (www.caa.co.uk), and European ATC organisations are now introducing what they call ‘Noise Preferential Routing’ which will presumably cut down the range of options.  An independent public-private partnership called NATS (National Air Traffic Services, https://nats.aero) handles most of the regulated airspace above the UK.  It is divided into 17 sectors.  The five major London airports are grouped within a single sector.  Manston appears to be located in the neighbouring Dover sector. 

Holding patterns

Holding areas are needed to accommodate aircraft during busy periods where they can queue before making their final approach.  Manston will have two distinct sets of holding areas: one for light aircraft (‘general aviation’), and one for commercial flights.  The first of these is relatively close to the runway and extends down to 2 000 feet; its impact will be small and localised. 

The commercial flight holding areas are further away and located at a higher altitude.  RSP have published two illustrations showing where the stacks might be located (Figures 1 and 2 below).  They appear to show the altitude of each stack as 3 000 feet, much lower than the 7 000 feet for Stansted. 

It seems that the four stacks shown on the RSP maps are not alternative proposals, but complementary.  The Manston runway is aligned roughly east-west.  When the prevailing wind is from the west, one would expect incoming flights to make their final approach from the east so they can land against the wind.  Figure 1 shows how they would converge at a point in mid-Channel at the beginning of their descent, together with their glide path over Ramsgate, then touchdown on the runway.  The two closed loops represent ‘stacks’ where aircraft will queue if the airport is busy.  When in use, the stack to the north would presumably accept arrivals from the north of the extended runway centreline, while the stack to the south would accept arrivals from the south.  In principle, both stacks are needed so that aircraft arriving from the north and those arriving from the south don’t have to cross the runway axis, and get in the way of other aircraft on their approach – an arrangement that reduces ‘conflicts’ and the risk of collision.

However, it appears that the arrangement shown in Figure 1 won’t be used very often.  The greater proportion of landings will actually be made from the west to reduce the noise impact on Ramsgate, as stated in this quotation from Tony Freudmann, Director of RSP that appeared on 7 August in Kent-on-line (https://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/row-over-secret-flight-paths-to-and-from-airport-231707/):

‘Lets say there are six movements an hour, three arrivals and three departures, what we hope to achieve is of those six arrivals, at least four or even five will be in the direction of Herne Bay.”  This statement isn’t clear, but possibly the majority of incoming flights will use the second holding pattern as shown in Figure 2.  It is more-or-less a mirror image of what appears in Figure 1.  Again, there are two ‘stacks’: the southerly one lies over Faversham, which would presumably be used for flights arriving from the south of the extended runway centreline. 

Take-off and climb

There is another potential issue.  Compared with landing, take-off creates more disturbance because the engines are operating at full throttle, and nearly full-throttle for much of the subsequent climb.  The greater proportion of departures from Manston will follow a westerly flight path because it is safer to take off against the prevailing wind rather than in the same direction, and as stated earlier, RSP prefer this direction because it reduces the noise impact on Ramsgate.  The Kent-on-line article shows a map with departure routes radiating in different directions from the airport (Figure 3).  I understand from a colleague who was once a practising aeronautical engineer that aircraft are likely to turn fairly soon after departure.  

However many of the aircraft pass over Herne Bay and it is possible that some will continue in a straight line as far as Faversham.  If so, we need to know how high they will be flying when they get here.  Jet aircraft climb as quickly as possible because the engines work more efficiently and there is less drag at cruising altitude, which is usually over 30 000 feet.  The maximum climb angle for a typical passenger jet seems to be in the region of 15 degrees, and since Manston is 20 miles away, it could theoretically reach 20 × 5280 × tan(15°) = 28 000 feet when it arrives overhead, which is not far short of cruising altitude.  But in practice, an aircraft will only sustain such a steep climb for a short while after take-off, and after that, it might climb typically at 2 000 feet per minute.  Regulations limit the maximum speed when flying below 10 000 feet to 250 knots, or 6076 × 250 / 60  =  25 317 feet per minute, so it will take most flights around 20 × 5280 / 25317  =  4.17 minutes to reach Faversham.  So climbing steadily at a rate of 2000 feet per minute, the aircraft would arrive here at an altitude of around 8000 feet.  

Consequences for Faversham


At many airports, a single runway can accommodate arrivals at two-minute intervals or even less.  Given the maximum frequency of movements at Manston will be limited to 5 per hour, most will start their final approach without needing to enter a holding pattern at all.  It appears therefore that few will ‘stack’ over Faversham, and they will do so only when several happen to arrive at the same time.

So what will be their environmental impact when they do form a stack, and will people notice?  Apart from a small amount of exhaust gas pollution, an aircraft has both a visual impact and a noise impact.  The 200 foot wingspan of a Boeing 747 at 3000 feet makes it appear many times larger the sun or the moon, so it will be highly visible.  But personally, I doubt whether people will complain if it occurs only at rare intervals. 

The noise may be less welcome.   In a holding pattern, aircraft fly slowly on reduced power, so they make less noise than they do on take-off, when the engines are producing maximum thrust.  Nevertheless, one source (https://www.nats.aero/environment/aircraft-noise/) quotes the noise generated by a descending Boeing 737 at 3 000 feet as about 70 dBA at ground level.  This is roughly equivalent to the noise of a vacuum cleaner (https://www.iacacoustics.com/blog-full/comparative-examples-of-noise-levels.html), which would be annoying if it occurred frequently.


The position with departures is less clear.  Most will start off in westerly direction: any that continue as far as Faversham will still be climbing at an altitude perhaps of 7 000 – 8 000 feet when they arrive, and the engines will be working harder than they would in a holding pattern.  I estimate the noise level for a passenger jet at climbing at this altitude to be around 60 – 65 dBA, which is noticeable but not severe.  The overall impact will depend on the frequency of such flights.

Other stakeholders

The noise impact will be much greater for residents living closer to the airport and especially those living along the extended centreline of the runway.  The communities most affected will be: Ramsgate, Manston, Wade, West Stourmouth, and Pegwell Bay (see the PEIR [Preliminary Environmental Information] non-technical summary document of 2018, chapter 12, para 1.1.82 at https://rsp.co.uk/documents/rsp-documents/03-non-technical-summary-peir-2018/)

Any holding area imposes a ceiling on general aviation: small aircraft can fly underneath but not through the controlled air space.  Members of the Kent Gliding Club, which is based near Challock, are concerned that a holding area over Faversham will interfere with their activities.

Road traffic generation

Road traffic generation by the airport is covered in the PEIR summary document, chapter 12, para 1.1.95, where RSP claims that ‘only 7 of the 31 (potential) receptors trigger the need for a detailed assessment’.  These receptors are local roads around the airport periphery, and the detailed assessment concluded that the traffic effects ‘are not significant’. 

I am skeptical – the airport will generate goods traffic, some of which will add to the demand on the M2 at junction 7, which is now approaching saturation.  Highways England has no immediate plans for an upgrade.


Aircraft flying in or out of Manston Airport will inevitably generate noise.  In my opinion, the noise associated with any particular flight over Faversham will be noticeable, but not severe.  At the moment don’t know enough about their frequency to determine whether in total, they will result in significant disturbance.

Questions to be answered

  1. Manston lies almost on the boundary between three air traffic control centres: London, Dover, and Clacton – under which control centre does it fall?
  • Commercial aircraft mostly follow defined ‘airways’ over Europe that are five miles wide.  We need to know the existing airways over East Kent, and how the pattern will change when Manston re-opens.  This is a matter for the CAA to decide, but it would be useful to know what RSP have asked for.
  • It would be useful to confirm the minimum altitude for aircraft in the holding pattern.
  • How much road traffic will the airport generate, and what will be the effect on M2 junction 7?

CW          31 August 2020

Further information is available here

Airport Watch

Campaign against the reopening of Manston Airport


1         The proposal in its local context

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.


2         The proposal is incomplete

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.

3         The proposal is inaccurate

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[1] 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. 

4         Creek Regeneration

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.

5         Biodiversity

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.

6         The proposal is deficient

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?

7         If planning permission is granted……..

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 [74625] 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.

[1]  https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/strategies-and-policies/environment-waste-and-planning-policies/environmental-policies/kents-changing-climate

We are pleased to announce that our second-hand bookshop will be re-opening on Friday 19th June, with strict social distancing measures in place. We will be open only on Fridays and Saturdays (10am - 3.30pm) for the timebeing. We look forward to welcoming you back safely.

Dear Madam Mayor

The Faversham Society has consistently supported the proposal to create a town-wide 20mph speed limit on the streets of Faversham. We continue to do so under the latest proposal to implement the 20’s Plenty project through an experimental traffic order. The benefits to the town in terms of safety, air quality and physical health are key to the future resilience of the town, as well as to the conservation and enhanced appreciation of its built heritage.

We encourage the Town Council to resolve to advance the project at its meeting on 1st June.

Yours sincerely

Chair Faversham Society

We are extremely disappointed by the Secretary of State’s decision yesterday to permit the development of the Cleve Hill Solar Power station. The Society supports renewable energy and solar power in particular. Renewable energy should be mandatory for all new houses being built in and around Faversham, indeed nationwide, but successive governments have failed to require this.

The Faversham Society’s objections clearly stated in our final letter to the Secretary of State stand. We are opposed to any development project that will detract from, not enhance, our community. We shall now review the documents, consult our members and others, and consider what steps to take in the wake of today’s decision.

This decision will have a major impact on our community as a market town set in a rural coastal environment. The industrialisation of Graveney Marsh will also affect the entrance to the Creek and plans for its regeneration.

We shall have more to say when we have had time to digest the reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision and more importantly the Development Consent Order.

The Secretary of State's explanation for his decision
Examining Authority’s Recommendation Report

The key document is the Development Consent Order, this gives the developer permission to proceed and the powers to do so. Before work can commence the developer need to get detailed consent for Swale Borough Council. However, Swale can only attempt to ensure compliance with the DCO.

Development Consent Order as Made

The Daily Mail summed up the examination process accurately:
"An extensive examination was held last year to iron out controversial topics with locals such as wildlife, traffic, visual impacts and battery safety."

The Mail's description of the process is much more accurate that the Planning Inspectorate's

The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Sarah Richards said:

“The Planning Inspectorate is committed to giving local communities the opportunity of being involved in the examination of projects that may affect them. Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in a 6-month long examination. The Examining Authority listened and gave full consideration to local views before making their recommendation.”

That is not our experience of the process, we spent hours raising our concerns to no avail. The CHCP team of highly paid consultants and lawyers were so disrespectful that on one occasion the Chair of the Examining Authority required that they apologise. Probably fearing that the behaviour might be part of a Judicial Review.

Our representations made no discernible difference to the outcome.

Coverage on KMTV

Faversham Society reported in Aberdeen

The Ecologist

Dear Gareth

Application by Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd

In response to your Request for Information dated 3 April 2020, The Faversham Society as an interested party would like to make the following response about the inadequacy of the Project Definition in the draft Development Consent Order (DCO). Namely paragraphs 10-13 of your letter:

  1. Whilst we remain implacably opposed to the whole project for the reasons made clear throughout the Examination, we are pleased that these matters are requiring a response from the applicant. Our reason is that we have serious concerns that the parameters outlined in the DCO by the applicant are too widely drawn and that they provide too much opportunity to go beyond the parameters of the project which was the subject of the Examination.
  • Further, as you will be aware, planning conditions are expensive to enforce, and Swale Borough Council (SBC) lacks the resources, expertise and experience to manage the oversight of a project of this scale, complexity and novelty. This highlights a flaw common to all complex NSIPs whereby, despite the rigour of the NSIP Examination process, enforcement of the DCO is left to the Local Authority. Our experience locally and elsewhere is that the simplest of conditions such as, for example, permitted transport movements, turn out to be unenforceable due to a lack of resources. Particularly worrying in this case, is that many of the requirements placed on the developer are costly and therefore any enforcement attempts by SBC will be subject to appeal. In these circumstances, SBC is unlikely to be able to match the applicant’s legal firepower and deep pockets.        
  • Besides requiring the tightening of the design parameters, additional safeguards should be put in place in the DCO to strengthen enforcement. This should be done by attaching conditions and requiring review by the Health and Safety Executive, Kent Police and Kent Fire & Rescue Service before the application is sent to Swale. Kent Police are included here since there is a clear security/terrorism risk associated with what will be the world’s largest BESS with an explosive energy of 602 tons of TNT- the size of a small nuclear bomb. (Reference: See the Arizona Regulator’s determination described in 4. below)
  • The proposals above in relation to health and safety as well as terrorism threats apply particularly to the proposed Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).  The recent determination by the Arizona Regulator following two Li-ion BESS fires which was admitted to the Enquiry in the Addendum to our Deadline 7 submission lays out the safeguards under which Li-ion BESS should be controlled in future. In the absence of any National Planning Statements(NPS) on BESS these, or equivalent, safeguards must be included in the DCO along with the appropriate authorities to be part of the enforcement procedures.
  • A further area of major concern is the way in which the Rochdale Envelope is invoked in relation to the proposed BESS. This leads to the provision of very little detail and it became clear during the Examination that neither the applicants nor their advisors understood the possible technical, safety and security implications of their proposals. The Rochdale envelope is a principle designed to enable modifications to existing (safe) technology, not to be a Trojan Horse for technology proven to be unsafe on an unprecedented scale in the absence of any NPS. It is essential to keep in mind that what is proposed is five times bigger than anything previously built when there is clear experience and official review of life-threatening failure in an installation 350 times smaller.
  • We, therefore, support the EA’s attempt to ensure a Requirement that secures the parameters of the project and deplore the applicants’ attempt to avoid this as laid out in your points 11.-13. It is essential that this Requirement includes the need for the exact specification of the BESS and a requirement that this specification is subject to approval by the appropriate authorities as outlined above.
  • We also wish to extend our comments above to the decommissioning of the plant and the reinstatement of the land in 40+ year’s time. Besides the need to remove hundreds of tons of equipment and many thousands of tons of concrete, it is almost certain that the land will be polluted to a greater or lesser extent due to the leak of toxic Lithium compounds onto the marsh and potentially into water supplies and fisheries. This area will then be required by the EA for flooding, but if it is beyond remediation, it will have to be protected from rising sea levels on the same timescale. Given the likelihood that the plant may have been bought and sold several times by that time, it is essential that the DCO secures a lifetime indemnity for these significant potential costs so that they do not fall on the public purse.
  • In conclusion, we note that given the provision for appeals, we foresee the danger of threats of legal action becoming a regular feature of efforts by SBC to enforce a weak DCO in order to protect the public interest.  We, therefore, request that the Secretary of State ensures that the DCO is both clear and robust in order to provide an effective basis to secure the public interest.
  • This response is without prejudice to the Faversham Society’s clearly expressed opposition to the CHSP proposal on the grounds expressed in our many documented submissions to the Examination. Nothing in this response is to be taken to weaken or modify our views or our resolve in this matter.

Due to the current health crisis please note that the Fleur Hall and Chart Mills will be closed with effect from Wednesday 18th March 2020.

UPDATE: 1400H 18/03/20

In light of Government advice and prevailing good practice it has been decided that ALL Faversham Society facilities will be closed with immediate effect and until further notice, including Fleur Hall, Fleur Gallery, Fleur Museum, Visitor Information Centre, Gatefield Lane Bookshop and Chart Gunpowder Mill.

Registered Charity  Number 1135262 - Company No 07112241
The Faversham Society - Registered Address: 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram