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Response to Swale's Heritage Strategy

The Society wishes to congratulate SBC for this strategy which has been correctly identified as a priority.  We welcome the additional resources allocated (£250,000) and the new “positive management” approach and commitment.  We particularly welcome the much needed, additional staffing.

Enforcement
The Society has long been critical of the lack of enforcement by Swale, and we are pleased that this has been recognised and that there are proposed remedies.  Article 4 Directions have been largely ignored, so allowing the degrading of vulnerable parts of the Faversham Conservation Area. There needs to be enforcement and a campaign to raise public awareness. We welcome the intent to introduce Special Advertising Control areas: these would be very useful in conserving the heritage of Faversham.
Radfield House is a prominent and embarrassing eyesore on the Watling Street and its condition clearly suggests a lack of concern for heritage in Swale. The conservation of this signature building probably now requires that SBC uses its compulsory purchase powers before the building lost and application is made for commercial or housing use of the land.

Pett Dane 15th century is a Grade II listed building. Needs to be on the heritage at risk register, SBC has not successfully protected this heritage asset for many years.

Our Common Heritage
As is pointed out in the strategy Swale has a remarkable richness of built heritage. This clearly is an asset. However, it also makes the presentation and communication of that heritage within and beyond Swale more difficult.

We would suggest that each year Swale has an annual tourism focus or theme in order to produce an experience of depth and quality. The defence of the UK is one such theme; it could be followed by brickmaking, barges, the railway and the Watling Street. The Watling Street provides a link to Canterbury and London, and in our view Swale needs to do a great more to connect its heritage nationally and to link with national and regional heritage centres.

Natural Heritage
Swale is defined by its shared natural heritage of chalk downs, fertile soils and marsh and the Swale. It would be desirable to see more linkage in the strategy between the built heritage and the natural heritage as is evidenced at the Oare Gunpowder site now also a country park. The Westbrook in Faversham made the development of the gunpowder industry possible and provides an excellent potential educational resource if interpreted from its source and down to the Swale. KWT’s ambition to re-wild Faversham has great heritage importance for the significance of our natural heritage and the part it has played in our history has been a neglected subject.,

Youth & Education
The Society is only too well aware of the importance of encouraging young people to appreciate and connect with our town’s heritage. The efforts of so many over the last 60 years will come to nought unless we instil in future generations. Appreciation of our built and cultural heritage Inheritance has to be an active and engaged process. We would urge SBC to include the creation and implementation of an educational outreach programme in its strategy

Community Celebration
The Society is very aware of the importance of connecting peoples contemporary lives with our heritage and that festivals are an important way of achieving this. We are working with the Hop Festival to introduce more heritage and heritage appreciation into that festival.

After 50 years of the pioneering Open Houses programme we are evolving it into two linked festival weekends in July each year. Plans for 2020 are to focus first on the coming of the railway and Victorian Faversham and on the second-weekend on gunpowder. We are seeking to engage as many community groups – music, dance, drama, food - as possible with us in these new annual heritage festivals.
We are working with HRGS through Historic Swale to mark and celebrate Beckett and Dunkirk.

Research
Although a great deal of research has been done on Faversham’s history and much has been published by the Society, there is a great deal more to be done. The relocation of the Doddington Library into the Reading Room in the Town Hall at 12 Market Place has created a space where academics, students and others from Canterbury and elsewhere can work on the archives not only of the Faversham Society but also the other 14 or so heritage assets in Faversham, organised through Faversham Museums Together.

Creek Basin and Upper Creek
Swan Quay, The Faversham Creek Hotel (previously the Coal Exchange, the former pumping station (currently used by the Boxing Club), TS Hazard and the green quay) form a cluster of considerable heritage interest and about which there is currently public concern in Faversham. These buildings, along with the upper basin provide an excellent opportunity for a combined heritage and economic regeneration initiative.

TS Hazard
TS Hazard is a signature building for Swale, as it is for Faversham, and it is currently in use as the base for the Sea Cadets. A use for which it is in the C21st inappropriate and Illsuited. The Society wishes to see the building restored and used for a more appropriate purpose combining conservation, regeneration and tourism. If a maritime museum were to be developed there it would provide an entry point to the Cinque Ports and enable Swale and Faversham to develop a link with Chatham and the Historic Dockyard and the National Maritime Museum. In recent years Kent’s maritime and defence heritage has been largely ignored for tourism development and yet it is one of our county’s and Borough’s best assets.

Conservation Areas
The Faversham Society enthusiastically supports community engagement in the designation, appraisal and maintenance of Conservation Areas and is interested in remaining involved in this process including working with Swale BC on the Faversham Conservation Area Conservation Statements when Swale is ready to move on to these in 2021-2 as suggested. However, we are concerned about the proposed timescale which we believe is a). starting too late and b). is too short, given the processes involved.”
As part of the new Neighbourhood Plan process now commenced in Faversham the Society is likely to propose and press for some revision and significant extension of the conservation area in order to strengthen protection of the very varied town core at a time when it is facing considerable development pressures.” is likely to press for some revision and extension of the conservation areas in the parish. We are concerned that unless the CA appraisal has been updated issues may arise when the NP is passed to Heritage England for comment and problems may develop. The Society would like to see the Conservation Area Appraisal brought forward in the implementation plan and remains keen to assist in this process.

Local listing

§4.5 discusses the possibility of local listing. The Council commits itself to developing a local listing policy and the document discusses how they would work with owners to ensure that this is understood. We welcome this proposal and regret that its implementation is not seen as a higher priority

In the NP process the Post Office is emerging as a candidate for national listing as a heritage asset representing some of the best of sixties architecture and a rarity in Faversham

Areas of high townscape value.
The Society is pleased to see the references to the use of –“area of high townscape value”. Early thinking around the Faversham NP suggests that there are some areas we would like to suggest for this designation. We understand that this is not an immediate priority for SBC but we would like to be able to use this designation in the near future.

Abbey Fields
The Society has objected to the housing proposal on Abbey Fields because it will remove the last remaining view of Faversham for the marsh and from the creek. This iconic view is fundamental to Faversham’s sense of place and an understanding of its evolution as a rural market town and port on the edge of the marsh.”

Old Gate, Old Gate Road
This is a listed heritage asset of uncertain ownership and which some local residents are concerned may be in a dangerous condition.

Addition

§ 3.5 discusses the local brick industry in Sittingbourne and Faversham.

 ‘Excavation of brickearth made its mark on the townscape in Sittingbourne and Faversham which can still be read today. In Faversham, the height of the footpath through Dorset Place above the houses and gardens in Roman Road is evidence that the land to the west was excavated before it was developed.’

Suggestion: At the end of para 4 of the maritime section insert

‘At Faversham, there was also steel shipbuilding on the west side of the creek from 1917-1973 by James Pollock[1], Sons and Co Ltd building a range of tugs, coasters and lighters and vessels for WWII, and then by Southern Shipbuilders building trip boats for the Thames. The site is now partly occupied by housing and partly by a business area

The subsection on pilgrimages mentions Tonge and Sittingbourne but there is no mention of Ospringe which was a very important stopping place on the pilgrim route from London and beyond to Canterbury.

Suggestion: After the last para about Tonge (para 3 on page 38) add:

‘Ospringe was also important on the pilgrimage route from London and beyond to Canterbury and subsequently as a stopping off point for royalty. On both sides of the road was the Maison Dieu, a pilgrim ‘hospice’ with facilities for travellers of high rank. Part of this still exists as the Maison Dieu museum while the larger part has been excavated and lies under Waterstone Place on the north side of Ospringe Street.’

There is no mention of the Faversham Creek branch line built 1866 which served the industry at Faversham Creek including quays at Iron Wharf.

Suggestion: At the end of the first para on page 40 add:

‘Faversham also had an industrial branch line railway branching off the mainline close to the engine shed and carriage shed. This was built in 1866 and extended via a bridge over Whitstable Road and down Abbey Fields to Iron Wharf and then along Standard Quay to Belvedere Road. The steep bank alongside Faversham Recreation Ground is a reminder and there is other evidence in remaining tracks at Standard Quay and the line of the route through Iron Wharf boatyard.’ We understand that there is a turntable in this group of buildings.

Suggestion: Priority 2 about using heritage as part of regeneration is not included in any of the section introductions. It fits best here.

On page 68 there is no reference to the Maison Dieu museum at Ospringe. This is now run by a separate trust and has a museum containing finds from archaeological digs in and around the village.

Is it possible to add to the buildings at risk at this stage? Examples such as the complex itself and about local excavations on some brickmaking sites. Also 114 West Street, Faversham which is in a very poor state of repair?

On the items taken off the list since 2009 on pages 9-10, is it possible to complete the set of photos and also to say a little more about what happened to the buildings, perhaps with links to the relevant implemented planning applications/other works carried out.

We ‘wonder’ whether we might insert a mention of the agriculture-based businesses which flourished in the town from the mid-19th Century until the 1970’s and which arrived here because of the port.


[1] The Faversham Society is included in a National Maritime Museum application for funding to create a catalogued archive of the Pollock papers.

January 31, 2020

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Registered Charity  Number 1135262 - Company No 07112241
The Faversham Society - Registered Address: 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS
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