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By Brian Pain


In 2016 a shadowy group called the Faversham War Memorial Garden Committee, led by the then Town and Swale Councillor Michael Cosgrove, applied for planning permission and listed building consent to remodel what was Stone Street’s attractive green garden into a hard landscaped area with the existing listed War Memorial Cross relocated into the centre.

The garden was originally assumed to be under the ownership of Faversham Cottage Hospital and intended for the benefit of the patients.

This met with overwhelming opposition from the town, in particular the residents of Stone Street and surrounding streets some of whom had been caring for the garden free of charge for many years.

The planning application was refused but despite this ruling from Swale, whilst leaving the listed stone cross in its original position, under the direction of Mr Cosgrove, the garden was remodelled at great expense into what is now Faversham’s contribution to Stalinist architecture.

The sad story of the Kaftaesque methods employed by Mr Cosgrove and his ‘committee’ are reprinted from an earlier issue of the Eye as an addendum.

New Attempts to Move the Memorial Cross

In June 2023, Mr Cosgrove on behalf of his obscurantic War Memorial Garden Committee (from now on referred to as FWMGC) reapplied for planning permission and listed building consent to move the stone cross and further disfigure what remained of the original garden.

In August the Swale planners wrote to the applicants informing them that they intended to again refuse planning permission and invited them to withdraw the application. 

The Swale planners explained that since the unsuccessful 2016 application to relocate the war memorial, the 2021 update to the National Planning Policy Framework introduced a paragraph relating to statues which strengthens the argument to retain memorials in their original locations. This states:

In considering any applications to remove or alter a historic statue, plaque, memorial or monument (whether listed or not), local planning authorities should have regard to the importance of their retention in situ and, where appropriate, of explaining their historic and social context rather than removal.”

Historic England jointly with the War Memorials Trust advice on conserving war memorials state that:

War memorials were usually located in places chosen by the community. They should therefore be preserved in their original position unless there is a very good reason not to do so. Some locations were chosen because they had particular importance, such as where soldiers signed up. Other commemorate connections other than regiment or service, for example memorials in schools, clubs or workplaces.  Relocation should only be considered if the current position is putting the memorial at risk, or it has become inaccessible to the public.”

***It is important to remember that after WW1 the people of Faversham having collected money for a war memorial to commemorate the local men who fell in the great War, decided to spend only half the funds on the actual modest stone cross we see today on the corner of their garden on Stone Street and chose to honour the dead by using the remainder to provide an Xray unit, operating theatre and a five bed ward for the Cottage Hospital.***

The planners then generously granted Cosgrove an extension to consider options as he said he needed extra time to consult his, possibly imaginary, committee and on the 30th of September he declared that the FWMGC would not be withdrawing their applications and asked Swale planners to move to determination.

The news that soon after this Cosgrove and the FWMGC had lodged an appeal for non-determination was entirely unexpected by the planners. This will involve the Council, and so us, the ratepayers, in significant financial expenditure.

The Current Position

We are awaiting the appeal to be heard by the national Planning Inspectorate. 

There have been many submissions opposing any further change to what is now referred to as the War Memorial Garden especially from people in Stone Street and surrounding roads.  There is a very cogent submission from the Faversham Society (Swale Planning SW/23/502500/FULL) arguing the case for refusal.  Faversham Town Council also opposes the application.

We quote two of the objections by way of illustration of the level of disquiet felt by local people:

I wish to object to this proposal to move the war memorial cross and fully endorse the list of reasons provided by the Faversham Society, namely:

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 list of original objections still holds good and I would strongly endorse the complaints about what was substituted for the gardens that were well cared for by volunteers and admired by all.

The substitution of what is accurately described in one objection as a “dead place full of stone and concrete” and a “mausoleum” was a disgrace and it is a blot on the face of Faversham. I’d happily help demolish it and return it to its earlier state”.

From Faversham Town Councillor Crayford:

Not only do I object to this application. I am concerned over the lack of transparency regarding the organisation behind the application.

I can find no details of the Faversham War Memorial Gardens Committee, it’s not clear who is part of this committee, it is not clear where the monies to commence this work has originated from.

All these details should be made available to the people of Faversham.

There are also a significant number of submissions in support of the applications but if you discount those from ex councillor mates of Cosgrove, the odd mason and a statistically improbable number from houses in Priory Row. There does not seem to be many individuals in favour.

We imagine that the passionate support of residents living in Priory Row for the application has absolutely nothing to do the fact that their neighbour is a certain Andrew Osbourne (see addendum) who along with Michael Cosgrove is a Trustee of Bensted’s Charity which has made generous donations to the FWMGC.  Bensted’s Charity until very recently, held and administered the FWMGC funds through a designated bank account.

Please see 'Lest We Forget...' from Issue 2 of the Eye - it provides a carefully researched background to this continuing story.


It is rather odd that Michael Cosgrove fronting a totally anonymous group of people called The War Memorial Gardens Committee who have no registered presence as a charity, limited company or community interest company and seem to have no publicly available written constitution or minutes of meetings, can use serious amounts of money, of which at least a significant proportion was donated from charitable organisations, to attempt to force upon an unwilling town, further changes to an already expensive eyesore. 

How on earth did they even manage to open a bank account and surely they should have auditable accounts?

One might even speculate that this group is a figment of Cosgrove’s imagination.

It is also outrageous that Michael Cosgrove an ex-Town and Swale councillor who must be very conscious of the difficult financial constraints experienced by local authorities should further exacerbate this, when there are so many other services that are in desperate need of support, by this deeply unpopular and seemingly personal obsession.


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