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Submission on Abbey Fields

20/500015/OUT
The Faversham Society is extremely concerned about the substantial harm that would be done to Faversham if the proposed housing development was to be permitted. The Society, therefore, approached a barrister to prepare a substantial submission on our behalf.

Summary

  1. The Faversham Society considers that the Conservation and Design Team have erred in their assessment of the harm that the proposal set out within the application has upon the former Royal Abbey of St. Saviours (“Faversham Abbey”) (a Scheduled Monument), the medieval buildings and the surviving landscape associated with the Abbey and its monastic farm (“Abbey Farm”) and the Conservation Area.  A number of heritage assets survive locally to the site including a number of Grade I, II and II* buildings – some of which have a direct link with Faversham Abbey and others which are important to understand the development of the Town.
  • The Faversham Society considers that, contrary to the assessment by the Conservation and Design Team, the application poses substantial harm to the significance of the Scheduled Monument, the heritage assets within the locality of the site and the Conservation area by the near final erosion of the historic environment with the removal of the site as an important area of open farmland, leading out into the open countryside into which Faversham Abbey and the Town were originally developed.  The proposal represents the destruction of an important and significant area of open land that evidences the remaining link between the Scheduled Monument and the historic built centre and the open countryside.  This has a direct, and adverse, impact on the historic setting of Faversham Abbey and the historic centre of the Town.
  • Should the Faversham Society’s assessment of harm not be accepted, and it remains felt that the harm posed is “less than substantial” then it is clear that the public benefits of the proposal are not sufficient to outweigh the less than substantial harm identified.  The site subject to this application should not be considered to be an “easy way” to assist Swale to deliver 180 homes simply because of its location to the Town.  Real care needs to be taken in assessing the proposal’s impact on the heritage assets.  This is a requirement set out within Statute and the NPPF – and is discussed in what follows.

The application should be refused due to the harm it would cause to the historic environment.  This is without prejudice to the other cogent and valid reasons for refusing permission advanced by the Faversham Society and others.

The Society's Submission prepared by Counsel can be downloaded here.
The Society's Assessment of Harm can be downloaded here
Ray Harrison's Topography and Assessment of Abbey Farm can be downloaded here
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Scheduled Monument
The site of St Saviour's Abbey, including the remains of an Iron Age farmstead and Faversham Roman villa

Listed Buildings:

Faversham Abbey Major Barn II*
Faversham Abbey, Minor Barn Abbey Fields I
Abbey Farmhouse II*
Medieval Stables at Abbey Farm II*

An Inspector has decided in Tonbridge and West Malling that

"The site and the land around it would be diminished to the extent that it would no longer be perceived as rural or open countryside." and concluded that "This would cause very significant harm to the character and appearance of the area." The decision can be found on the Planning Inspectorate's website under reference number 3254563. More

March 16, 2022

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The Faversham Society - Registered Address: 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS
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