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 were 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 went round the back of Faversham Reach and the Brents Industrial Estate, NE gave an absolute commitment to vary the route subsequently to go along the promenades at Faversham Reach and Waterside Close when the latter route (approved following the public inquiry held in January 2018) is opened

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.  While the residents have argued 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 were approved - as they since have been - and implemented: they clearly believed that the Creekside route would more closely match the criteria governing the ECP and should therefore be followed when it is available.

An important point to note regarding NE’s proposed interim route at Faversham Reach and Waterside Close is that the ‘spreading room’ provisions would 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 would be a right of public access to the communal areas of both housing developments and the Brents Industrial Estate.  The Group’s view has been that, for this reason, it would have been 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 had hoped  that a final decision on their recommendations and the various representations would be made in autumn 2018.  However, progress on this report, and on similar reports, has been delayed by the need to take account of an EU Court of Justice ruling relating to habitat assessments.  It is understood that there is now a backlog of assessments to be carried out and that it is not possible to estimate at present when decisions will be made on the Whitstable to Iwade report.