England Coastal Path

Natural England (NE) are charged with creating a coastal path round the English coastline.

Natural England (NE) published on 21 June 2017 their report recommending the route which the England Coast Path (ECP) should take between Whitstable and Iwade.

The full report can be accessed at www.gov.uk/government/publications/england-coast-path-from-whitstable-to-iwade-comment-on-proposals.  The main parts of the overview dealing with the route in the Faversham area are at pages 17-19, 25-26 and 35.

Faversham Footpaths Group held several meetings with NE during the two years they took to prepare the report and made a number of proposals regarding the possible route.  The principal recommendations are as we expected.   NE propose that the ECP should follow the existing Saxon Shore Way route subject to the following main points:

* instead of running along Abbey Street, it will follow the promenade at Provender Walk and Belvedere Quay, with the removal of part of the wall which currently prevents access between the two

* at Standard Quay the route will go along the water’s edge rather than between the buildings

* while the recommended route goes round the back of Faversham Reach and the Brents Industrial Estate, NE give an absolute commitment to vary the route subsequently to match the route set out in KCC’s Orders for a Creekside path along the promenades at Faversham Reach and Waterside Close assuming those Orders are implemented.  (Those Orders will be the subject of a public inquiry beginning on 16 January 2018.) 

Landowners and other interested parties had until 16 August 2017 to make objections or representations.  These will be determined by an independent planning inspector, following which the final route will be approved.  

The Group warmly welcomes the proposals regarding Provender Walk and Standard Quay.  While it would have been preferable if the recommended route at Faversham Reach and Waterside Close followed the Creekside, it is understandable that NE should have decided to let KCC continue to make the running with its Orders and then vary the ECP route subsequently if those Orders are approved and implemented.  While the residents will no doubt argue that the fact that NE have recommended following the Saxon Shore Way demonstrates that NE believe that it is a perfectly satisfactory route, this is unconvincing.  If this were the case, NE would not have given an unqualified commitment to vary the route if the Orders are approved and implemented: they clearly believe that the Creekside route would more closely match the criteria governing the ECP and should therefore be followed if and when it is available.

An important point to note regarding NE’s proposed route at Faversham Reach and Waterside Close is that the ‘spreading room’ provisions will apply to the land between the route and the Creek – which means that, with the exception of obviously private areas such as houses and gardens, there will be a right of public access to the communal areas of both housing developments and the Brents Industrial Estate.  The Group’s view is that, for this reason, it would be in the residents’ interests to support the Orders for a Creekside public right of way and then to support a variation order to move the ECP to match it.

The Group has made representations opposing a proposal to exclude part of the Iron Wharf Boatyard from the 'spreading room' provisions: see FFG - Coast Path - representation re Iron Wharf recommendation  It has also written in support of the recommendation to provide refuges/passing places for pedestrians on the road at Oare which is used by lorries going to and from East Kent Recycling Ltd.

NE think that a final decision on their recommendations and the various representations may be made in spring 2018.