By Brian Pain
Over the past twenty years the buildings along the Creek have changed. What was once a thriving port, full of industrial and commercial character, is now overwhelmingly residential developments. Faversham is losing its character and beginning to look like every other waterfront town. Much of Faversham’s marine architectural heritage has been lost, the casualty of development greed and poor planning.
What was once rich, diverse and ever fascinating to look at has been replaced with lines of houses and apartment blocks, which are just a collection of predictable designs. One visual cliché after another. What’s left urgently needs protecting. It is the bridge to our history and our culture. It’s precious and it needs to be strictly protected.
All that stands between further desecration and the protection of our heritage is Swale Council and their planning department. The signs are not good. Their track record to date is poor and there is little to suggest it will get better.
In this issue we highlight the new development at Standard Quay and the increasing dilapidation of TS Hazard, ongoing examples of the failure of planners in Sittingbourne to safeguard Faversham’s best interests.
During the Examination into the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan, there was a proposal for new housing on Standard Quay next to the Grade 11 listed Standard House.
The Independent Inspector stated that:
“The open character of the curtilage and isolated position of the house must be maintained and enhanced. Parking in front of the building is considered inappropriate. To the south of Standard House, any new housing development must be of no more than two storeys and should be located to preserve the prominence of Standard House as a landmark on the Creekside in views along the Creek and from Standard Quay and the footpath.”
Faversham Eye readers can judge for themselves. The Swale planners have completely ignored this determination. Standard House is now dwarfed by three storey houses, it is no longer prominent as a landmark on the Creekside and the views the Inspector wanted to preserve have gone.
TS Hazard on Town Quay is a grade II* listed building, one of the oldest buildings in Faversham, starting life as the Town Warehouse and was built around 1475.
Although Faversham has many Grade II listed buildings only a handful are Grade ll*.
The Pevsner Architectural Guide – North East and East Kent, long revered as the bible of English historic buildings says this: “…T S Hasarde at the foot of Quay Lane, an exceptional timber-framed treasure.…”
Sadly, this exceptional timber-framed treasure has noticeably deteriorated over the past two years. Tiles are missing from the roof and ridges, the weather boarding is in poor repair and some parts of the structural timbers are falling off.
Normally the local authority can require the owner to undertake immediate remedial repairs. Sadly, the owner and the district authority are one and the same - Swale Borough Council and, so far, they have shown little enthusiasm to discipline themselves.
If Swale has a responsible plan to maintain this historic wonder we will be only too happy to publish it. Meanwhile, the suspicion remains that their sneaky plan is to let it rot beyond the point it can be repaired so they can say that (regretfully) it now has to be knocked down and replaced with yet more houses which look as if they have come out of an eight year old’s colouring in book.
The TS Hazard used to be owned by Faversham Council but was snaffled up by Swale. Time for it to be returned so that those who care about it and can look after it properly.