23/502054/LBC | Listed Building Consent to dismantle the Faversham War Memorial and re-erect in the centre of the Memorial garden, including formation of a proposed new peace corner, comprising interpretation boards with local reflections, raised bed for planting wooden crosses on site of existing War Memorial, and associated access path. Removal of iron railing fence, and repair and re-laying of existing paving. | War Memorial Stone Street Faversham Kent ME13 8PZ
The Faversham Society objects strongly to this planning application on two grounds: process and the treatment of a Grade II Listed building. Despite changes in detail, this proposal is fundamentally unaltered from that which rightly was refused Listed Building consent in 2016.
After WW1 Faversham was unusual in that there were three monuments erected to the memory of those who died in the war effort.
Our forebears decided to site the War Memorial Cross on the corner of Stone Street and Roman Road in the Cottage Hospital Garden. The Faversham Society submits that the decision of the bereft generation to site the cross on the corner and on the Cottage Hospital Gardens should be respected. This setting is fundamental to its significance. It was the local branch of the Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors which applied to the Cottage Hospital Trust for permission to erect a cross on those Hospital Grounds.
We do not accept that the “visual prominence of the War Memorial has declined”. Historic photographs in the Society’s collection clearly record the original detailing of the monument and its setting. From these it is clear:
a) that the distorted railings behind the monument are the historic remains of the original 1897 enclosure of the gardens by the Hospital trustees,
b) that the present holly tree is self-sown, not part of any landscape design and did not exist until sometime after the 1948 WWII commemorative works
c) the present low gates, side railings and granite columns are part of the post-WII commemoration and are, therefore, of historical significance in themselves and should on no account be disturbed.
The Cottage Hospital Garden was given and created to provide respite for patients and staff in the Cottage Hospital and their visitors. The hospital treated many war wounded and many Faversham families before and after the war, visited dying family and friends there and sought solace in the Hospital Garden.
The ownership of the garden on the corner where the war memorial was erected in 1922 was transferred to Faversham Borough Council by the Hospital trustees in 1948 and therefore re-transferred to Swale at local government reorganisation in 1974. Swale Borough Council is, we assert, the owner responsible for holding it in trust for the people of Faversham.
The Faversham War Memorial Committee membership is unknown and Swale apparently has no knowledge of who they are or how they are constituted [https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/faversham_war_memorial_group_mee]. We do not accept that this shadowy and self-appointed group, apparently accountable to no one, has the right to make further alterations to this Listed monument which also sits within the Conservation Area.
The Faversham War Memorial Committee neither owns the land nor the Listed monument nor does it represent the people of Faversham, whom it has not consulted. Although denied Listed Building Consent to move the cross in 2016, the Faversham War Memorial Committee nonetheless went ahead and, despite considerable public opposition, transformed the Cottage Hospital Garden into a war memorial, presumably with the tacit support of Swale officers.
The applicant has not established that it is necessary for structural reasons to move the cross, which was sited where it is by those who suffered loss and maiming in WW1. In the Faversham Society's view, the Armistice Day service each year is conducted with a road closure, as it should. The cross should remain undisturbed, where our forebears chose to place it.
The suggestion that the cross be relocated was rejected in 2016. The circumstances have not changed. The grounds for refusal of Listed Building Consent in 2016 were:-
“(1) The dismantling, re-location and re-erection of the war memorial will involve moving an historic and well loved monument to a new and less appropriate location which will damage and result in harm to the setting and historic context of the listed building, and be harmful to the character of the Faversham conservation area, contrary to saved policies E14 and E15 of The Swale Borough Local Plan 2008.
(2) The dismantling, re-location and re-erection of the war memorial is likely to result in the danger of damage to the monument which would be harmful to the listed building contrary to saved policy E14 of The Swale Borough Local Plan 2008.”
These grounds for refusal are as valid today as they were in 2016 when there were 74 letters of objection summarised in the Planning Committee Report
The objectives of providing better access for people will limited mobility and recording the names of those who lost their lives in WW1 and WW2 have been met by the changes already made.
The Design and Access Statement contains several unsubstantiated claims about public support. There is certainly not “universal acclaim”. As in 2016, there has again been no public consultation. A small, secretive group is seeking to make changes to public property and a Listed monumnet which is important to the residents of Faversham who lost family in two world wars, without any public consultation process. The changes made to the Cottage Hospital Garden are not a “successful scheme enjoyed by all.”
Treatment of Grade II Listed monument
The cross was located where it would be seen by people walking, cycling or driving along Stone Street, on a corner with Roman Road where it is necessary to slow down and often stop. Those passing by are reminded of those who gave their lives and those bereaved. If the cross is removed, it will be set back in a less prominent place.
The holly tree appears to be self-set and is described by the arboriculturalist from Banbury as “a moderate quality example of its species”. If it becomes a significant threat to the cross, it could be removed and replaced at some point in the future. The cross is in no imminent danger.
Significance is defined in the NPPF as ‘the value of a Heritage Asset to this and future generations because of its heritage interest. Such interest may be archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic and it may derive not only from a Heritage Asset’s physical presence, but also from its setting.”
In the Heritage Statement the applicant refers to the fact that there is now “ a set of Memorial slabs with the names of the fallen in the adjacent, but distinct, garden, and the obvious focus for the event has been split, which the applicants feel is less satisfactory.” This is a situation entirely of the applicant’s recent making, which despite their statement to the contrary, was vigorously opposed by many in Faversham.
In our view, it is not appropriate to relocate the attractive granite Celtic Cross to sit in front of a slab of stark white stone and a wall of yellow stock brick.
Despite statements by the Applicants in their Executive Summary, the context, meaning and setting of this Memorial have NOT changed in any way. They remain what they have always been and what is stated on or by the Memorial itself - an honouring and remembrance by the people of Faversham of those killed in the two World Wars and an exhortation to the living not to forget their sacrifice. In this case, past or recent changes to adjacent road and pavement surfaces, traffic conditions and local vegetation are utterly irrelevant justifications for the proposed changes. There were no generations more aware of disabilities and the disabled than those that lived through the two World Wars. The present memorial is the form of memory chosen by those who were bereaved, traumatised and grieved and it is not now for us to alter it to suit an unwanted environment created by the whims of a later generation.
The views of the WMT are recorded in the papers which went to the Planning Committee in 2016. We concur with these views and see no reason to disregard this representation now.
“The War Memorials Trust raises objection to the proposal. It should be noted that the WMT is not a statutory consultee, but I am of the opinion that their views are important in this case. For the sake of regularity, I note their comments in full:
‘Thank you for providing War Memorials Trust (WMT) with the opportunity to comment on planning application reference 16/504008/LBC/ANSP. WMT wish to make the following comments:
Significance of location and listed status (NPPF paragraphs 132 and 133):
Relationship to Faversham Cottage Hospital (NPPF paragraph 128):
Materials and the principle of like-for-like replacement:
Addition of plinths with names of the fallen:
Services and parades:
WMT advise that the application in its current form is one that would cause harm to the special interest of the listed asset and to the significance of the setting of the Conservation Area. Should project proposals be developed that do not adversely affect the significance of the war memorial, WMT would be happy to provide further comment or advice. WMT welcomes the interest the community has in the war memorial and hope that our advice can be utilised to progress proposals that are more sympathetic.’
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
12 Market Place, ME13 7AE
10am to 4pm - Monday to Saturday
10am to 1pm - Sunday (opening hours may vary)
FLEUR MUSEUM - FREE ENTRY
12-13 Preston Street, ME13 8NS
Open Fridays & Saturdays 11:00 to 15:00
11 Preston Street, ME13 8NS
10am to 3.30pm - Monday to Saturday
Off Stonebridge Way, ME13 7SE
Open Saturday and Sunday from 2-5pm