10. Countryside & Coast
This Chapter contains the District Council's planning policies relating to development in the countryside, areas of landscape importance, the protection of agricultural land, new agricultural development, the urban fringe, urban and rural strategic gaps, trees and woodlands, and the coast.
The Planning & Compensation Act 1991 requires Local Planning Authorities to include policies in development plans which address the conservation of the natural beauty and amenity of the land.
Central Government advice in relation to the countryside was expressed in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7. This advised that the planning system should help to integrate the development necessary to sustain economic and social activity in rural communities with protection of the countryside for the sake of its beauty, the diversity of its landscape and historic character, the wealth of its natural resources and its ecological, agricultural, recreational and archaeological value.
- TO PROTECT AND, WHERE POSSIBLE, ENHANCE THE NATURE CONSERVATION VALUE OF THE THANET COUNTRYSIDE AND COAST FOR ITS OWN SAKE, AND FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF RESIDENTS AND VISITORS;
- TO PROTECT AND, WHERE POSSIBLE, ENHANCE THE FULL DIVERSITY OF LOCAL LANDSCAPES AND THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE AND COAST;
- TO PROTECT THE BEST AND MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND FROM IRREVERSIBLE DEVELOPMENT, IN THE INTERESTS OF LONG-TERM AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION;
- TO SUPPORT DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD MEET THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC NEEDS OF RURAL AND COASTAL AREAS;
- TO MAKE PROVISION FOR TOURISM-RELATED USES, INFORMAL AND FORMAL RECREATION, AND THE PUBLIC ENJOYMENT OF THE THANET COAST; AND
- TO CONSERVE AND ENHANCE STRATEGIC OPEN AREAS AND GAPS IN BOTH URBAN AND RURAL AREAS.
The Regional Planning Guidance states that the wider countryside of the South-East is valuable in providing countryside around and between towns, undeveloped coast, extensive open space and river corridors. The countryside should fulfil a range of needs including recreation, farming and the local economy, while safeguarding landscape and biodiversity.
The Guidance seeks to both protect the best and most versatile farmland in the Region in the long term, and to encourage rural economic diversification. The Guidance also seeks to protect and enhance the landscape, wildlife, natural character and built qualities of the coastline.
The Structure Plan seeks to restrain new development in the rural areas, to protect the countryside for its intrinsic value, rather than just for the productive utility of the land, but also to allow development that meets the social and economic needs of those areas.
Agricultural land concerns have been dominant in determining planning policies and decisions in Thanet for many years. Thanet's farmland ranks as some of the best and most versatile productive land in Kent and in the South- East, by virtue of both the high soil quality, and the extensive and continuous nature of the land in production. As a national food resource it therefore merits long term protection from irreversible development.
Agriculture enjoys very favourable conditions in respect of general climatic conditions, reliability of rainfall, topography and drainage. Furthermore, the farming sector in Thanet has a long track record of good productivity, efficiency, technical innovation and business investment.
Central Government advice is provided in Planning Policy Guidance Note(PPG) 20 on Coastal Planning. The Guidance strongly advocates the protection of undeveloped coastal areas from new development, unless no other suitable sites exist (see Policy CC14). It also warns of the potentially detrimental impact of inappropriate development to the coastal skyline.
The advice recognises that coastal and estuary development can have an impact on the environment well beyond the immediate vicinity, and, conversely, that development away from coasts and estuaries can have a similar impact on those areas (See Nature Conservation Chapter).
The Structure Plan contains policies that relate to the undeveloped coast and nature conservation aspects of coastal policy. The Plan also recognises the importance of co-ordinating coastal planning policy, and contains policies relating to the recreational use of the coastal zone.
A co-ordinated approach is also the aim of the North Kent Coast,Shoreline Management Plan, a document produced by the relevant Coastal Councils and the Environmental Agency. This is a document which sets out a strategy for coastal defence for a specified length of coast taking account of natural coastal processes and human and other environmental influences and needs.
The District Council recognises that the coastline is one of the District's greatest assets. The Council considers that it is important to maintain the diverse character of the Thanet coast for its value for tourism, recreation, landscape and wildlife. It is therefore recognised that these various needs and demands will have to be managed so that the Thanet coastline does not deteriorate. It is for this reason that the Council has commenced on the establishment of a proposal known as the ‘Coastal Park Initiative’.
Development in the Open Countryside
PPS7 states that new development in rural areas should be sensitively related to existing settlement patterns, and to the historic, wildlife and landscape resources of the area in which it is located.
The Structure Plan acknowledges that Kent's environment is one of its greatest assets, and has a direct influence not only on the quality of life for Kent residents, but also on the prospects for economic development and tourism. An attractive environment contributes to the context for a thriving economy.
The 1996 Kent Structure Plan Policies ENV1 and RS5 indicated the County Council's commitment to enhancing the character, amenity and functioning of Kent's rural areas, and to protecting the countryside from nonessential development. Thus, in the consideration of development proposals, the District Council will expect new development that is allowed to make a positive contribution to the character and diversity of the Thanet countryside.
Thanet's open countryside has long been protected from non-essential development by the operation of Structure Plan policies.
The open countryside in Thanet is particularly vulnerable to landscape damage from development, because of its limited extent, the openness and flatness of the rural landscape, and the proximity of the towns. Isolated rural development therefore has the potential to be much more conspicuous in rural Thanet than in other parts of the County.
The District Council therefore believes that it is essential to maintain these protective policies in the long term, in view of the vulnerability of the open countryside of Thanet to sporadic forms of development. It is thus general policy to locate all but essentially rural development (as indicated in Structure Plan Policy) in the Thanet towns.
POLICY CC1 - DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
THE THANET COUNTRYSIDE IS DEFINED AS THOSE AREAS OF THEDISTRICT OUTSIDE THE IDENTIFIED URBAN AND VILLAGE CONFINES.
WITHIN THE COUNTRYSIDE, NEW DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS THERE IS A NEED FOR THE DEVELOPMENT THAT OVERRIDES THE NEED TO PROTECT THE COUNTRYSIDE.
District Landscape Assessment Survey
During 1991, the District Council carried out a detailed Landscape Assessment Survey, based on Countryside Commission advice published in 1987, as part of the preparation of the Isle of Thanet Local Plan. The Survey confirmed many of the long-held ideas about the Thanet landscape. Thanet is recognised as possessing a gently undulating landscape, with few dominant natural features, shaped largely by arable farming, combined with a historical lack of tree cover.
However, there are features and areas within the District which provide a high level of landscape value and public amenity. This is especially true of Pegwell Bay and the former Wantsum Channel, where uninterrupted long views of the sea, the marshes and the attractive and undeveloped coastline exist towards Sandwich, the Ash Levels and Reculver.
The results of the Survey also indicate that views of the sea form a particularly important factor in Thanet's landscape qualities, since the sea often forms the backdrop to other landscape areas or features. It also provides a contrasting edge to the open countryside and the built environment, and an element of wildscape in an otherwise largely "managed" landscape. This is enhanced by the flatness of the landscape, which permits long views of the sea from some elevated or particularly flat inland parts of the district.
As part of the Local Plan review, the District Landscape Assessment Survey work was fully reviewed in the light of Government guidance in PPG7, and the Countryside Commission guidance published in 1993, relating to the change to a landscape character area approach to landscape assessment. This work has also drawn on the North East Kent Landscape Assessment & Guidelines, published by Kent County Council in 1999.
This has resulted in the identification of six landscape character areas at the local level, brief descriptions of which are given below to provide the background for the detailed landscape policy for the District:
Pegwell Bay is an extensive area of mixed coastal habitats, including mudflats, saltmarsh and coastal scrub. These habitats form an open and relatively unspoilt landscape, with a distinctive character. The area possesses a sense of remoteness and wildness despite the relative proximity of
development. Among its most important features in the area is the unique sweep of chalk cliffs viewed across Pegwell Bay from the south. This landscape creates large open skies.
Pegwell Bay is identified in the Kent Structure Plan as a Special Landscape Area. However, because it is a relatively small area, it is less robust than other SLAs, and more vulnerable to development impact. It is therefore necessary to exercise rigorous control over the location, scale and design of new development within and adjacent to the SLA, having regard to the sensitive nature of the area.
The Former Wantsum Channel
This area includes all the flood plain of the River Stour, and historically represents the former sea channel, the Wantsum Channel, which previously separated the Isle of Thanet from mainland Kent and which silted up over several centuries. The area is characterised by a vast, flat, open landscape defined by the presence of an ancient field system, defined by an extensive ditch and dyke system, the sea walls and isolated groups of trees. These elements provide important visual evidence of the physical evolution of the Wantsum Channel and, like other marsh areas in Kent, produce huge open skies.
This Landscape Character Area has been identified in consultation with Canterbury City and Dover District Councils. This reflects the wider recognition of the historical, cultural and visual significance of this landscape.
The Former Wantsum North Shore
This area largely comprises the distinctive and often quite steep hill slopes leading down from the Central Chalk Plateau to the former Wantsum Channel. The landscape is very open with few features and the former shoreline is more distinct in some places than in others, with the variation in the contour pattern. From the upper slopes it affords extensive views across the whole of the former Wantsum Channel to the slopes on the opposite banks and in many places to the sea.
The former shoreline is more distinct in some places than in others, with the variation in the contour pattern. However, it also provides the unique setting of the former channel-side villages of Minster, Monkton, Sarre and St Nicholas, and the smaller, originally farm-based, settlements of Shuart, Gore
Street and Potten Street. These elements provide important visual evidence of the growth of human settlement, agriculture and commerce in the area.
The openness of this landscape provides wide and long views of the former Wantsum Channel area and Pegwell Bay. The area also possesses a large number of archaeological sites (including scheduled ancient monuments); numerous listed buildings (including Minster Abbey, the churches at Minster, Monkton and St Nicholas, and Sarre Mill); and the historical landing sites of St Augustine and the Saxons, Hengist and Horsa.
The Central Chalk Plateau
The central part of the District is characterised by a generally flat or gently undulating landscape, with extensive, unenclosed fields under intensive arable cultivation. This open landscape is fragmented by the location of largescale developments such as the airport, Manston Business Park and a sporadic settlement pattern to the north of the airport. The character of this area is also defined by the proximity of the edges of the urban areas.
The Park is unique within the Thanet context, comprising a formal and extensive wooded parkland and amenity landscape within an otherwise open intensively farmed landscape. It possesses a formal landscape structure and gardens that act as an effective setting to Quex House. The parkland is intensively cultivated between the tree belts, with limited grazing pasture remaining. Two important historic features of the Park are the Waterloo Tower and a round castellated brick tower to the north of the main House.
The Urban Coast
The urban areas of Thanet form an almost continuous conurbation along the coast between Pegwell Village and Minnis Bay. With the exception of the Green Wedges, this area is heavily urbanised. The coastal strip is characterised by the presence of traditional seaside architecture, active harbour
areas and beaches and some extensive public open clifftop areas. The pattern of bays and headlands provides long sweeping views of the coast.
The Council recognises that changes between areas of landscape character tend to be gradual, rather than sharply defined. However, for the purposes of applying Policy CC2, it is necessary to provide clear definition of each character area. Each of these areas is defined primarily by its physical characteristics, but social and economic factors have also influenced the character of these areas. Within each of these areas, different principles will guide the nature of development that is considered acceptable within the landscape context.
In applying Policy CC2 to protect the landscape character of the district, the Council will also seek to take account of the social and economic well-being of the rural areas, in line with PPS7.
The Local Plan makes specific provision for such forms of development (including local needs housing, the development of commercial/tourism facilities in rural settlements, and the provision of new employment opportunities). However, it is recognised that there may be other development needs that require sympathetic consideration. These will be considered in the light of their landscape impact, the availability of alternative sites and their relationship and proximity to urban service provision. The use of Article 4 Directions will only be considered where the Council believes that there is a real and specific threat to the aims of landscape policy.
It should be borne in mind that large parts of the Landscape Character Areas identified above and in Policy CC2 are located in the countryside and are therefore subject to general countryside constraint policies, including Policy CC1 of this Plan, and relevant Structure Plan Policies. In many cases, therefore, special justification will be required for development in these areas.
POLICY CC2 - LANDSCAPE CHARACTER AREAS
WITHIN THE LANDSCAPE CHARACTER AREAS IDENTIFIED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, THE FOLLOWING POLICY PRINCIPLES WILL BE APPLIED:
- AT PEGWELL BAY PRIORITY WILL BE GIVEN TO THE CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF THE LANDSCAPE OVER OTHER PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS;
- IN THE FORMER WANTSUM CHANNEL AREA, NEW DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT NORMALLY BE PERMITTED;
- IN THE WANTSUM CHANNEL NORTH SHORE AREA, DEVELOPMENT WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED THAT WOULD NOT DAMAGE THE SETTING OF THE WANTSUM CHANNEL, AND LONG VIEWS OF PEGWELL BAY, THE WANTSUM CHANNEL, THE ADJACENT MARSHES AND THE SEA;
- ON THE CENTRAL CHALK PLATEAU, A NUMBER OF SITES ARE IDENTIFIED FOR VARIOUS DEVELOPMENT PURPOSES. WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS PERMITTED BY OTHER POLICIES IN THIS PLAN, PARTICULAR CARE SHOULD BE TAKEN TO AVOID SKYLINE INTRUSION AND THE LOSS OR INTERRUPTION OF LONG VIEWS OF THE COAST AND THE SEA;
- AT QUEX PARK, NEW DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS SHOULD RESPECT THE HISTORIC CHARACTER OF THE PARKLAND; AND
- AT THE URBAN COAST, DEVELOPMENT THAT DOES NOT REFLECT THE TRADITIONAL SEAFRONT ARCHITECTURE OF THE AREA, MAINTAIN EXISTING OPEN SPACES AND LONG SWEEPING VIEWS OF THE COASTLINE WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS THAT CONFLICT WITH THE ABOVE PRINCIPLES WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THEY ARE ESSENTIAL FOR THE ECONOMIC OR SOCIAL WELL-BEING OF THE AREA.
IN THE EVENT OF A REAL AND SPECIFIC THREAT TO THE LANDSCAPE CHARACTER OF THESE AREAS FROM PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT, THE USE OF ARTICLE 4 DIRECTIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED, AND SECRETARY OF STATE APPROVAL FOR THE DIRECTION SOUGHT.
Local Landscape Features
Within the context of the Landscape Character Areas identified above, there may be local variations in landscape character or other valuable features and characteristics in the local landscape that the Council wishes to protect. These may be natural and semi-natural features, for example, views of the sea and coastline, and habitat elements, such as wooded areas (particularly critical in the Thanet landscape), or features resulting from human activity, for example, ancient monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas. These features, and their settings, need to be taken into consideration wherever they are affected by new development proposals.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC3 - LOCAL LANDSCAPE FEATURES
NEW DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS SHOULD RESPECT LOCAL LANDSCAPE FEATURES AND THEIR SETTINGS, WHETHER NATURAL OR THE RESULT OF HUMAN ACTIVITY. PROPOSALS THAT WOULD LEAD TO THE LOSS OR FRAGMENTATION OF SUCH FEATURES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
Island Approach Routes
Approaches to the District, in particular major roads, play a key role in determining the quality of the environmental perception presented by the Isle of Thanet. This image is important because it influences the perceptions of residents, tourists and potential inward investors. An attractive environment contributes to the context for a thriving economy. These approach routes cross the former Wantsum Channel, and this provides the perception of Thanet as an island (recognised in the North East Kent Landscape Assessment Study), and a "sense of arrival" in the Isle of Thanet. The island character of the District is preserved by the manner in which Thanet rises above the nearby marshes to a modest height of just over 50m. The visual and environmental quality of these gateways within their wider settings therefore needs to be enhanced. In the case of major roads in particular, there is a need for firm protection from inappropriate and intrusive development, including advertisements, in the open countryside along these routes. Approach routes to the Isle of Thanet include the main A28, A253, A256 and A299 roads, and the main rail lines from Chatham, Ashford and Dover. The lengths of the approach routes are defined on the Proposals Map. However, the Policy areas are not laterally defined, as the impact of any new
development proposals will need to be judged in relation to their nature and scale and relative proximity to the routes.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC4 - ISLAND APPROACH ROUTES
THE PROTECTION OF THE IMPORTANT VISUAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OF MAJOR APPROACHES TO THE THANET TOWNS, AND OTHER MAIN GATEWAYS AND TRANSIT ROUTES IN THE DISTRICT, IS A PRIMARY PLANNING AIM.
THE COUNCIL WILL PROMOTE THE ENHANCEMENT OF EXISTING SITES THROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS.
CONSENT WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR NEW DEVELOPMENT OR ADVERTISEMENTS IN THESE LOCATIONS, PARTICULARLY ADJACENT TO ROAD FRONTAGES.
DEVELOPMENT WHICH IS ALLOWED TO FRONT ONTO OR WHICH IS CONSPICUOUS FROM THESE ROUTES WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE SITED, DESIGNED, AND LANDSCAPED SO AS TO MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE ROUTES.
Settlement Separation Policies
The Thanet towns, with a population in excess of 125,000, form the largest urban concentration within East Kent but with one of the smallest land areas in Kent. The adopted Isle of Thanet Local Plan (and the previous Urban Local Plan) sought to maintain the individual and separate physical identities of the Thanet towns.
The retention of a physical separation was to be achieved by resisting all but essential or policy-conforming development in the "wedges" of largely open countryside which adjoin, penetrate or separate the urban areas. These policies also had the additional effect of reinforcing policies for the protection of agricultural land.
Strong support for this policy approach has consistently been given at Appeal, in terms of both the extent of the areas to which the Policy applied, and the planning aims of the Policy. The Green Wedge boundaries have remained largely unaltered in this Plan.
The dominant land use in the Green Wedges is agriculture. The Green Wedge Policy is not a policy for the protection of agricultural land (see Policy CC9). However, the strong planning protection afforded to high-quality farmland in Thanet has helped historically to maintain the undeveloped and
open character of the Green Wedges. This positive contribution to Green Wedge purposes has depended in part on a system of intensive arable farming, that is, large open fields.
In respect of the promotion of additional public access to the Green Wedges there is a proposal to create a combined golf course and country park in the south-west part of the Margate-Broadstairs Green Wedge. The implementation of this proposal will need to take into account the aims of Policy CC5, and is dealt with by Policy SR15 in the Sport & Recreation Chapter.
The planning approach to the Green Wedges is expressed in one Policy. The Policy has four aims:
- To serve as a barrier to the further outward growth and coalescence of Thanet’s urban areas, so that the separate physical identities of the towns are retained;
- To prevent the consolidation of development on the boundaries between the built-up areas of the towns and the open countryside of the Wedges, and the extension of isolated groups of houses or other development;
- To conserve and protect the essentially rural and unspoilt character, and distinctive landscape qualities of the countryside that separates the urban areas, for the enjoyment and amenity of those living in, and visiting, Thanet;
- To prohibit all but essential development and other development which does not detract from the character and appearance of the area.
The Council considers that open sports and recreational uses would be compatible with Green Wedge policy, subject to there being no overriding conflict with the Policy criteria and the wider objectives of the Plan.
Policy CC5 applies to all forms of development, including new buildings, the change of use of land and buildings and advertisements. It should be noted that Policies CC2 (Landscape Character Areas) and CC9 (Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land) of this Plan and Policies S6 (b), RS5 and ED6 of the Kent Structure Plan also apply to these areas.
There are three Green Wedge areas defined on the Proposals Map.They differ not only in size but also in character. The essence of the Green Wedges is the maintenance of a permanent setting of open countryside around and between the Thanet towns. They are all highly significant in the local
context, providing visual relief in a highly urbanised area.
The Green Wedge that separates Margate and Broadstairs is the largest, best known and longest established of the Wedges. Substantial areas of this Wedge consist of high-quality farmland in large open fields without fences or hedgerows. However, other parts have isolated belts of woodland, being the grounds of large houses or institutions or, like the golf course, used for outdoor recreation. The other two Green Wedges (which separate Ramsgate and Broadstairs, and Birchington and Westgate) are considerably smaller than the Margate-Broadstairs Green Wedge.
The primary purpose of the Green Wedges is to prevent coalescence. Much of the land in the Wedges lacks buildings, has a level landform and generally has sparse vegetation. In turn these factors allow many extensive and uninterrupted views across open countryside. The public perception of space, openness and separation is largely gained from roads and footpaths that run through or alongside the Wedges in undeveloped frontages.
POLICY CC5 - GREEN WEDGES
WITHIN THE GREEN WEDGES, AS DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, NEW DEVELOPMENT (INCLUDING THE CHANGE OF USE OF LAND AND BUILDINGS) WILL NOT BE PERMITTED, UNLESS IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE DEVELOPMENT:
- IS NOT DETRIMENTAL OR CONTRARY TO THE STATED AIMS OF THE POLICY; OR
- IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT TO BE LOCATED WITHIN THE GREEN WEDGES.
OPEN SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL USES WILL BE PERMITTED SUBJECT TO THERE BEING NO OVERRIDING CONFLICT WITH OTHER POLICIES AND THE WIDER OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN. ANY RELATED BUILT DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE KEPT TO THE MINIMUM NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE OPEN USE, AND BE SENSITIVELY LOCATED.
NEW DEVELOPMENT THAT IS PERMITTED BY VIRTUE OF THIS POLICY SHOULD MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THE AREA IN TERMS OF SITING, DESIGN, SCALE AND USE OF MATERIALS.
Village Separation Corridors
Each of the Thanet villages makes its own contribution to the character and diversity of the Thanet countryside. The District Council believes that it is essential for each village in the District to retain its separate physical identity, in the same way as the towns. This is recognised by Kent Structure Plan Policy S6 (b). There are some settlements that, due to their mutual proximity, are potentially vulnerable to coalescence through the development along the road frontages that link them for example, Minster and Monkton. The District Council will, therefore, apply this policy in rural areas to maintain the identity of individual settlements, safeguard the character of the open countryside and, in the case of settlements close to Ramsgate, to preserve the distinction between the different characters of the urban and rural areas. It should be noted that there are two such corridors between Ramsgate and Manston. The future development of Kent International Airport is clearly a matter of concern for Manston, in terms of its physical relationship to the village. The village is currently separated from the airport by agricultural land, and it is essential that a significant gap is retained so that Manston is not physically absorbed into the growing airport complex.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC6 - VILLAGE SEPARATION CORRIDORS
IN THE FOLLOWING VILLAGE SEPARATION CORRIDORS, PRIORITY WILL BE GIVEN TO THE LONG-TERM MAINTENANCE OF THEIR OPEN CHARACTER AND THE PHYSICAL SEPARATION OF THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS OVER OTHER PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS:
MINSTER-MONKTON ST NICHOLAS-SARRE MANSTON-WORLDS WONDER RAMSGATE-CLIFFS END RAMSGATE-MANSTON BIRCHINGTON-ACOL ACOL-CLEVE COURT AND MONKTON-GORE STREET
The 1996 Kent Structure Plan identified “a rich heritage of ancient lanes” within the County. These lanes not only possess their own character and historical value, but also contribute to wider landscape character. The Structure Plan seeks to protect the character and integrity of these lanes from adverse physical change, particularly as a result of new development.
This Plan also identifies a number of such lanes in the Thanet area. This was achieved using slightly different criteria to those in the Kent study, which have been devised to reflect the unique historical character of rural lanes in Thanet.
POLICY CC7 - RURAL LANES
DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE LANDSCAPE,AMENITY, NATURE CONSERVATION, HISTORICAL OR ARCHAEOLOGICAL INTEREST OF THE RURAL LANES IDENTIFIED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
- WAY HILL, MINSTER;
- WAYBOROUGH HILL, MINSTER;
- GRINSELL HILL, MINSTER;
- MARSH FARM ROAD, MINSTER;
- CHAMBERS WALL, ST. NICHOLAS; AND
- SHUART LANE, ST. NICHOLAS.
Overhead Power Lines
One of the major issues identified by the Thanet Landscape Assessment Survey was the significant visual intrusion and landscape disruption caused by overhead power lines, and other similar structures. This disruption is particularly evident in the marsh and coastal areas, around the villages, and the Green Wedge policy areas. The District has an agricultural landscape, with gently undulating slopes, which exacerbate the impact of power lines. The Town & Country (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 include the "transmission of electrical energy by overhead cables" as a Schedule 2 project, which would require a detailed environmental assessment in certain circumstances. Furthermore, Schedule 9 of the Electricity Act 1989 requires that electricity generators and suppliers shall have regard to the desirability of preserving natural beauty and do what they reasonably can to mitigate any effect which electricity transmission line proposals would have on the natural beauty of the countryside. The District Council will therefore seek early consultation with the National Grid Company and other statutory undertakers on power line proposals to minimise their impact on sensitive landscape areas in the district, notably the Stour Valley and coastal areas. In circumstances where a sensitive
landscape might be severely affected, the undergrounding of power lines may be sought.
The District Council will also pursue the removal of existing power lines from sensitive landscape areas if appropriate opportunities occur in the future.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC8 - POWER LINES
IN CONSIDERING PROPOSALS FOR NEW POWER LINES, AND OTHER SIMILAR STRUCTURES, PARTICULAR REGARD WILL BE HAD TO THE POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF SUCH STRUCTURES ON THE CHARACTER AND AMENITY OF DESIGNATED LANDSCAPE AREAS IN THE DISTRICT, AND TO THE USE OF APPROPRIATE MITIGATING MEASURES. THE UNDERGROUNDING OF POWER LINES WILL ONLY BE SOUGHT IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
THE DISTRICT COUNCIL WILL, IF APPROPRIATE OPPORTUNITIES ARISE, SEEK THE LONG-TERM REMOVAL OR UNDERGROUNDING OF EXISTING STRUCTURES.
PPS7 states that local planning authorities should ensure that planning policies in LDDs address the particular land use issues and opportunities to be found in the countryside around all urban areas, recognising its importance to those who live or work there, and also in providing the nearest and most accessible countryside to urban residents. Planning authorities should aim to secure environmental improvements and maximise a range of beneficial uses of this land, whilst reducing potential conflicts between neighbouring land uses. This should include improvement of public access (e.g. through support for country parks and community forests) and facilitating the provision of appropriate sport and recreation facilities.
SERPLAN, in "A New Strategy For The South-East", urged local authorities to plan for environmental improvements to the urban fringe, and to devise programmes for the management of change, primarily land-use change, in those areas, together with appropriate development to meet housing,
recreational and other needs.
The urban fringe comprises the boundary between the urban and rural areas of the District. In most parts of Thanet, the high quality of agricultural land has resulted in a well-defined and conspicuous edge between the built-up areas and the open countryside. However, it is also characterised in some areas by fragmented uses.
However, the urban fringe is also subject to most development pressure for housing, commercial uses and so on, and local planning authorities need to address these pressures as well.
Landscaping, Tree Planting and Woodlands
One of the characteristics of the Thanet countryside and landscape is the lack of trees. This is a historic feature, which has been intensified by modern farming practices in some places, the impact of new development, and also by the violent storms of 1987 and 1990. The Council wishes to encourage landowners not only to preserve as many existing trees as possible, but also to include new tree planting as part of the management programme for their land.
However, this is in itself not a sufficient answer to the long-term problem, since there is also a lack of publicly accessible woodlands. With the exception of Quex Park, which is privately owned but partially open to the public at certain times of the year, and Mocketts Wood in St Peters, no publicly accessible woodlands exist in the District.
The District Council believes that part of the long-term solution lies in the formation of new community woodlands within the District. This is further addressed in the Sport & Recreation Chapter.
The District Council will seek to conserve and enhance the landscape, habitat, amenity and recreational value provided by trees and woodlands by:
- making Tree Preservation Orders to protect trees that are important in the andscape, are good examples of the particular species, or that have significant public amenity value;
- encouraging owners and occupiers of land, notably farmers, to take advantage of available grant aid for new planting, and to preserve trees and hedgerows on their land;
- ensuring that adequate landscaping is incorporated in new development proposals in line with Policy D2; and
- promoting the planting of native tree species in rural areas to create new landscape features and wildlife habitats, compatible with any existing nature conservation interest.
Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land
PPS7 states that the presence of best and most versatile agricultural land (1, 2 and 3a) should be taken into account alongside other sustainability considerations (e.g. biodiversity; the quality and character of the landscape; its amenity value or heritage interest; accessibility to infrastructure, workforce and markets; maintaining viable communities; and the protection of natural resources, including soil quality) when determining planning applications. Where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land (grades 3b, 4 and 5) in preference to that of a higher quality. In Thanet approximately 86% of agricultural land is denoted best and most versatile.
The Structure Plan places a strategic emphasis on the long-term protection of the best and most versatile agricultural land (MAFF Grades 1, 2 and 3a), regardless of its location. It also seeks to protect the long-term potential of other agricultural land. This Policy applies to the majority of agricultural land in Thanet. The Policy is intended to protect Thanet's high-quality agricultural land from development indefinitely, and to encourage farmers and other landowners to make the long-term investment required in a changing agricultural environment. This should provide the necessary strong degree of certainty regarding the future use of existing agricultural land. Only in very exceptional circumstances, as set out in this Policy, will new development proposals that affect Thanet's high quality agricultural land be considered favourably.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC9 - BEST & MOST VERSATILE FARMLAND
PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD USE BEST AND MOST VERSATILE LAND UNLESS IT CAN BE CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED THAT THE DEVELOPMENT IS ESSENTIAL AND THERE ARE NO PREFERABLE SITES.
Planning Policy Statement 7 states that it is important to encourage the diversification of the rural economy and to accommodate change, while conserving the full and varied countryside for the benefit and enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. A healthy rural economy helps to protect and
improve the countryside. The Guidance recognises that such diversification will often be based around farm businesses.
The District Council wishes to support proposals for diversification that will strengthen and protect the productive base of the farm unit, that is, allow the farmer to continue to farm. Thus the District Council will expect an outline farm plan to be submitted with any planning application, indicating where new diversification schemes fit into the overall farm programme, as part of that assessment. By granting planning consent for acceptable diversification projects, the District Council is indicating its long-term support for a continuing viable agricultural community in Thanet.
Farm diversification projects have a number of issues associated with them, for example, traffic and landscape impacts, and the depletion of financial and land resources. Applicants will therefore need to carefully assess the implications of new proposals, both for their own benefit, and to enable the Local Planning Authority to give support to acceptable and viable schemes.
POLICY CC10 - FARM DIVERSIFICATION
A PROPOSAL TO DIVERSIFY THE RANGE OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES ONA FARM WILL BE PERMITTED IF ALL THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
- THE PROPOSAL IS COMPLEMENTARY TO THE AGRICULTURAL OPERATIONS ON THE FARM, AND IS OPERATED AS PART OF THE FARM HOLDING;
- THE PROPOSAL IS ACCEPTABLE IN TERMS OF ITS IMPACT ON ITS LANDSCAPE SETTING AND ANY KNOWN NATURE CONSERVATION INTEREST;
- THERE WOULD BE NO LOSS OF BEST AND MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND;
- THE LIKELY TRAFFIC GENERATION COULD BE SAFELY ACCOMMODATED ON THE LOCAL HIGHWAY NETWORK;
- THE PROPOSAL SHOULD UTILISE AVAILABLE EXISTING FARM BUILDINGS;
- IF A NEW BUILDING CAN BE JUSTIFIED, IT SHOULD MEET ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF POLICY D10; AND
- THE PROPOSAL WOULD BE COMPATIBLE WITH THE PLAN’S POLLUTION CONTROL POLICIES AND WOULD NOT BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE RESIDENTIAL AMENITIES OF THE LOCAL AREA.
- THE PROPOSAL IS APPROPRIATE TO THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHARACTER OF THE SURROUNDING AREA.
The 1996 Structure Plan sought to control the location of agriculture related businesses that are not part of a farm business, such as produce processing and packaging operations. Such uses are relatively unusual in the Thanet area, the principal exception being the potato pack-house at St Nicholas Court Farm, near the Thanet Way. These value-adding operations would not be inappropriate within the Plan area as a whole, but their scale and location will be closely regulated by the application of the following Policy.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC11 - AGRICULTURE-RELATED DEVELOPMENT
DEVELOPMENT RELATED TO THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY MAY BE LOCATED ON SUITABLE SITES ON AGRICULTURAL LAND, SUBJECT TO LANDSCAPE, TRAFFIC AND OTHER PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS, AND THE SCALE OF THE DEVELOPMENT BEING ACCEPTABLE.
Retail Development on Farms
Many farms now sell products direct to the public in one of three forms: As a farm shop located within an existing farm building which markets goods produced within the agricultural unit, not requiring planning permission; As a farm shop located within a purpose built building where planning consent is required for the building; and As a retail unit associated with that farm, which markets a significant level of a wider range of goods than are produced within the agricultural unit, also requiring planning consent and to which Policy CC12 will apply. The acceptability of a proposal to erect a new farm shop in the countryside will be judged on the basis of Kent Structure Plan Policy RS5. In order not to conflict with parts 2 and 3 of the Policy, the District Council would normally expect farm shop buildings not to exceed 1500 sq ft gross floor area. Policy CC12 addresses the situation where it is intended to sell a wider range of goods than those that are produced on the agricultural unit. Whilst the District Council recognises the desirability for farmers to provide a service throughout the year and the problems associated with seasonality, the District Council has, in formulating the Policy, taken into consideration the unusual circumstances of the area in that, due to its size, no location is far from centres of population with existing shops. Retail units on farms which sell a wider range of goods (where more than 25% of goods sold are not produced within the agricultural unit), are considered by the District Council to be general retail units which may have wider environmental implications than farm shops solely marketing goods produced
within the agricultural unit, and therefore, the following Policy will apply.
If planning permission, in suitable locations, is granted the District Council may impose conditions on: the limit of the type of goods to be sold; the size of the retail area; the provision of satisfactory access and loading arrangements off thehighway; and the landscaping arrangements.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC12 - FARM RETAIL UNITS
DEVELOPMENT OF A RETAIL UNIT ASSOCIATED WITH A FARM, WHICH INVOLVES THE DISPLAY AND SALE OF GOODS WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN PRODUCED WITHIN THE AGRICULTURAL UNIT, WILL BE PERMITTED BUT ONLY IF THE DISTRICT COUNCIL CAN BE SATISFIED THAT:
THE USE WOULD NOT BE DETRIMENTAL EITHER TO THE EXISTING LOCAL AMENITIES OR THE CONTINUED VIABILITY OF ESTABLISHED SHOPS WITHIN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY; THE SCALE OF RETAILING ACTIVITY WOULD NOT EXCEED THAT WHICH WOULD NORMALLY BE ASSOCIATED WITH A LOCAL SMALL SCALE SHOPPING FACILITY AND WOULD NOT BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE RURAL CHARACTER OF THE AREA; ANY ASSOCIATED BUILDING OR STRUCTURE WOULD NOT BE OBTRUSIVE IN THE LANDSCAPE, OR DETRIMENTAL TO THE RURAL CHARACTER OF THE AREA BY MEANS OF ITS DESIGN, SIZE, SITING OR APPEARANCE; AND THE TRAFFIC GENERATED BY THE USE WOULD NOT CREATE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS ON ADJACENT HIGHWAYS OR EXCEED THE CAPACITY OF THE LOCAL ROAD NETWORK.
The Isle of Thanet has over 23 miles of coastline, which are characterised by a distinctive and rare combination of chalk cliffs and extensive sandy beaches. The coast forms one of the District’s most valuable resources, in terms of tourism, formal and informal recreation, landscaping and nature conservation.
PPG20 stresses that coastal planning is a strategic issue, and that there is a need for greater co-operation and co-ordination between coastal local authorities.
The broad range of planning policies that relate to the coastal zone are not confined to this chapter and the Chapters on ‘Nature Conservation’ and ‘Sport & Recreation’ should also be considered.
With the exception of limited areas around Ramsgate and Broadstairs Harbours, the entire Thanet coastline is recognised, both nationally and internationally, for its nature conservation and scientific value, and it therefore requires particularly strong protection in this regard.
Additionally, the Thanet coastline and beaches historically represent a considerable recreation and tourism resource, which in the future needs to be further explored and developed for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike (see Sport and Recreation Chapter).
The Thanet coastline and the sea also considerably enhance the value of the District's landscape, and this enhanced value is recognised by its partial designation as part of the Pegwell Bay Special Landscape Area and the former Wantsum Channel Landscape Character Area.
The objectives of the Kent Biodiversity Action Plan are also a consideration (see Nature Conservation Chapter). This document identifies species and habitats that are most under threat. The coastal area is one such habitat and is of particular importance and has the following designations: SAC, SPA, Ramsar Site, SSSI and part is also a National Nature Reserve.
Coastal Park Initiative
The District Council recognises that the coastline is one of the District's greatest assets. The Council considers that it is important to maintain the diverse character of the Thanet coast for its value for tourism, recreation, landscape and wildlife. It is therefore recognised that these various needs and demands will have to be managed so that the Thanet coastline does not deteriorate. It is for this reason that the Council has commenced on the establishment of a proposal known as the ‘Coastal Park Initiative’ The idea for a coastal plan developed out of the preparation of the Management Scheme for the Thanet Coast Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Many issues were discussed in that process which did not fall solely within the scope of the Management Scheme, which is a statutory
document. These issues included regeneration projects, tourism and leisure (such as ‘green tourism’) new development, nature conservation and related issues.
The concept of the ‘Coastal Park’ is to draw together all these policies, proposals and projects at the coast under a single, integrated action plan; to give these initiatives a common identity and to set a framework to carry them forward and develop new ideas. As there are many issues covered by this initiative, other Policies in the Plan will be relevant. However, Policy CC13 will apply to developments within the coastal area.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC13 - COASTAL PARK INITIATIVE
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE AREA IDENTIFIED AS THE ‘COASTAL PARK INITIATIVE’ WILL BE GRANTED WHERE THEY CONTRIBUTE TO OR ENHANCE THIS INITIATIVE AND ARE NOT CONTRARY TO THE MANAGEMENT SCHEME, SUBJECT TO OTHER POLICIES IN THIS PLAN.
Planning Policies for the Coast
The Council recognises the importance of balancing the environmental, recreational and development needs of the coastal zone. Policy CC14 therefore outlines the wider considerations within which decisions relating to various forms of development (including developments not related to the Coastal Park Initiative) at the coast must be assessed. These are addressed in more detail in other Chapters of this Plan. The Council will also, in considering new development proposals at the coast, take into account the character of the whole Thanet coast, and whether a particular development might be better located elsewhere in the coastal zone. This carries forward the Council's commitment to enhance the differences in the character of the Thanet coast. The Thanet coast is a sensitive area for wildlife and for its landscape value. Depending on the location, nature and scale of new development, an Environmental Impact Statement may be required under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (circular 02/99 refers). Thus the following Policy will apply.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC14 - DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE COAST
DEVELOPMENT WHICH SPECIFICALLY REQUIRES A COASTAL LOCATION WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED IF IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT NO ALTERNATIVE SITE EXISTS AND THE DEVELOPMENT IS CONSISTENT WITH OTHER LOCAL PLAN POLICIES.
DEVELOPMENT AT THE COAST WILL BE EXPECTED TO PROTECT AND ENHANCE THE LANDSCAPE, NATURE CONSERVATION AND RECREATIONAL VALUE AND DIVERSE CHARACTER OF THOSE AREAS. PROPOSALS WHICH ARE LIKELY TO RESULT IN THE LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO COASTAL OR INTER-TIDAL HABITATS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT. THE FINDINGS OF SUCH AN ASSESSMENT WILL BE A MATERIAL CONSIDERATION IN DETERMINING AN APPLICATION FOR PLANNING PERMISSION.
Coastal Defence Works
Thanet's chalk coastline is particularly vulnerable to sea and windaction, being located where the North Sea meets the English Channel. The Shoreline Management Plan advocates to “…hold the existing line…” for most of the coastline. The District Council therefore regards it as very important for these areas to be protected from erosion and subsequent damage. However, most of the Thanet coastline is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as a Special Protection Area and Ramsar Site, and is therefore protected by Policy NC2 of this Plan, and by European legislation. The Council acknowledges the potential for conflict between the construction of sea defence works, the scientific and nature conservation interests and the public amenity value of the Thanet coastline. It thus also recognises the necessity to reach agreement with English Nature, as far as possible, concerning the most suitable form of sea defence measures. In this respect, the District Council will seek to encourage the use, where appropriate, of "soft" engineering options for coastal defences. Under the Coast Protection Act 1949, an English Nature objection to new defence works automatically results in a Public Inquiry, and this would involve considerable delays in the implementation of new coastal protection works. The District Council already consults English Nature as a matter of course when designing new coastal defence works with a view to conserving the known nature conservation and scientific aspects, and intends to continue that practice. The following Policy will therefore apply.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC15 - COASTAL DEFENCE WORKS
WHERE NEW COASTAL PROTECTION PROPOSALS WOULD AFFECT A DESIGNATED SSSI, SPECIAL AREA OF CONSERVATION, SPECIAL PROTECTION AREA, OR RAMSAR SITE, OR INCLUDE A SIGNIFICANT LOCAL SCIENTIFIC OR LANDSCAPE FEATURE, NEW PROTECTION MEASURES SHOULD BE DESIGNED IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE SCIENTIFIC OR LANDSCAPE INTEREST IS NOT DETRIMENTALLY AFFECTED OR PUBLIC ACCESS TO THESE FEATURES UNREASONABLY RESTRICTED.
The unspoilt scenic quality of much of the undeveloped coast of Kent, and the countryside adjoining the coast, is of County-wide or national significance.
Although none of the Thanet coastline is designated as "Heritage Coast", there are three lengths of coast which have remained substantially undeveloped. These are recognised by Structure Plan Policy EN2, and are located at Pegwell Bay, North Foreland/Palm Bay and Minnis Bay/Plum Pudding Island. The scenic and scientific value of these areas varies. At Pegwell Bay, for example, the scenic value is affected by the former Hoverport, but the scientific value of this coast in terms of fauna, flora and geology is of international significance.
The North Foreland/Palm Bay stretch contains one of the most important local landscape areas, known as the Green Wedge, and the chalk cliffs have a measure of botanical interest. Minnis Bay/Plum Pudding Island includes part of the Channel of the former River Wantsum. It is consequently a flat landscape of alluvial deposits, which is mainly in agricultural use. In particular, Plum Pudding Island has considerable ornithological, botanical and entomological (insect-related) interest. These areas, like Pegwell Bay, are of international importance for wildlife and geology. The following Policy will therefore apply to those areas that are designated as Undeveloped Coast by Structure Plan Policy EN2.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC16 - UNDEVELOPED COAST
IN CONSIDERING DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS AT OR ADJACENT TO THE UNDEVELOPED COAST, THE DISTRICT COUNCIL WILL TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE UNSPOILT LANDSCAPE, SCIENTIFIC VALUE AND CHARACTER OF THE COASTLINE, AND PROPOSALS WHICH ARE INAPPROPRIATE TO THE AREA BY REASON OF THE NATURE, SCALE, LOCATION AND LIKELY IMPACT OF THE USE WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
Development of Clifftop Sites
Within the built-up areas of Thanet, less than 10% of the coast remains undeveloped. In view of the conflict of interests addressed by Policy CC16, the District Council also considers that it is also important to prevent development on clifftops in urban areas that might damage the landscape and nature conservation interests of the coastline. The Department of the Environment has recognised in PPG20 that the development of unprotected clifftops encourages the provision of new coastal protection, and is thus a material consideration in dealing with applications for new development. Since almost the entire Thanet Coast is designated as a SSSI/SAC/SPA/Ramsar site (including those sections which abut urban areas) and is of considerable landscape value, it would not be appropriate to permit development which might lead to the degradation of such sites, either in the short or long term. Thus the following Policy will apply, whether a site is covered by Policy CC16 or not.
(POLICY NOT SAVED) CC17 - UNDEVELOPED CLIFFTOP SITES
ON UNDEVELOPED CLIFFTOP SITES, NEW DEVELOPMENT WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE IT WOULD NOT:
BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE VIEWS OR SEASCAPE VALUE PROVIDED BY SUCH SITES OR THE NATURAL HABITAT INTERESTS OF IMMEDIATELY ADJOINING AREAS; UNDERMINE THE STABILITY OF A CLIFF FACE NOT PROTECTED FROM MARINE WEATHERING; CREATE A DEMAND FOR NEW COASTAL PROTECTION WORKS; OR CONTRIBUTE TO THE COALESCENCE OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE THANET COASTLINE, OR ADVERSELY AFFECT THE CHARACTER OF THE COASTAL SKYLINE.
| LP Implementation Target|
|Policy Area||Development in the Countryside|
|Indicator||Number of hectares of rural area lost to irreversible development during Plan period|
|Target||No specific target - monitor to establish appropriate targets|
|Monitoring||Annual monitoring through Development Control (DC) Applications system|
|LP Implementation Target|
|Policy Area||Green Wedge|
|Indicator||Number of departures to Policy; Number of hectares of Green Wedges lost to irreversible development during Plan period|
|Target||No specific target - monitor to establish appropriate targets|
|Monitoring||Through DC Applications system|
|LP Implementation Target|
|Policy Area||Best & Most Versatile Agricultural Land|
|Indicator||Number of hectares of best and most versatile land to irreversible development during Plan period|
|Target||No specific target - monitor to establish appropriate targets|
|Monitoring||Through DC Applications system|