11. Rural Settlements

11.1.

Introduction

This Chapter contains the District Council's planning policies as they relate to the villages in the  District, including general levels of new development, service provision and other issues. Some topics which affect the villages are dealt with in more detail in other Chapters; for example, public open space (Sport & Recreation), employment sites (Economic Development), and Conservation Areas (Heritage).

OBJECTIVES

  1. TO PROTECT THE CHARACTER, QUALITY AND FUNCTIONING OF THANET'S RURAL SETTLEMENTS; AND
  2. TO MAKE PROVISION, WHERE APPROPRIATE, FOR NECESSARY NEW DEVELOPMENT WHICH WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE CHARACTER, QUALITY AND FUNCTIONING OF THE VILLAGE.
11.2.

Policy Background

Central Government Guidance in PPS7 states that the key principles of sustainable rural development are:

  • social inclusion, recognising the needs of everyone;
  • effective protection and enhancement of the environment;
  • prudent use of natural resources; and
  • maintaining high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
11.3.

In their Regional Economic Strategy “Building A World-Class Region” the South-East of England Development Agency says that the countryside of the south-east is one of its major economic assets and its conservation is integral to the region’s competitiveness. Resolving the tension between conservation and economic growth must be a priority.

11.4.

The ‘aim’ of the Rural White Paper “Our Countryside: The Future, A Fair Deal For Rural England” is to sustain and enhance the distinctive environment, economy and social fabric of the English Countryside for the benefit of all. Although the White Paper envisions a ‘Working Countryside’ with a diverse economy and high levels of employment, it seeks to protect the countryside, looking after, restoring and conserving the landscape, wildlife, architecture and traditions that make our countryside special, as well as creating a ‘Living’ and ‘Vibrant’ countryside. Some of the main ways to make a difference are supporting and modernising village services, delivering local transport solutions, rejuvenating a thriving economy, setting a new direction for farming, preserving the countryside and making it accessible.

11.5.

In line with these aims and objectives the Local Plan will seek to ensure sustainable rural development responsive to local circumstances and the individual character of each settlement.

11.6.

One of the aims of the Structure Plan and the Kent Countryside Strategy is to enhance the character, quality and functioning of rural settlements in Kent, with the objective of securing a viable multi-purpose rural economy and balanced rural community, consistent with conserving the attractiveness and character of the countryside.

11.7.

The Structure Plan therefore gives flexibility to district planning authorities to formulate policies in respect of rural settlements, and to take account of local needs and circumstances in formulating settlement policies relating to housing provision, employment opportunities, services, recreational facilities, andtourism.

11.8.

The District Council considers that new development should help to enhance the rural settlements of Thanet, not only in terms of quality of design, but also meeting the needs of the village, whether housing, employment opportunities, recreational facilities or other amenities.

11.9.

Thanet Context

One of the factors which has been considered in the development of Local Plan policies is the proximity of the rural settlements to Thanet's urban areas, and the reliance of the rural population on the towns for employment and services. A considerable proportion of rural dwellers both work and use services in the Thanet towns, and Canterbury and Dover. The level of car ownership in the villages also tends to be higher than in the towns.

11.10.

The seven villages of Acol, Cliffs End, Manston, Minster, Monkton, St Nicholas and Sarre vary in a number of ways: scale, function, historic character, pattern of development, location relative to the towns, and so on. Each contributes something distinctive to the character of Thanet's rural area, and each has its own problems and future potential.

11.11.

The District Council will, therefore, examine opportunities for improving the character, quality and functioning of those settlements.

11.12.

General Levels of Development

The 1996 Structure Plan's Rural Settlement policies allowed district planning authorities to designate certain villages for future growth under Policy RS3 (a). Other villages would remain subject to Policy RS2 where restraint considerations apply, or even the strongly conservationist approach advocated by Policy RS3 (b). This principle applied to housing, employment and all other
forms of development subject to planning control.

11.13.

The Village Appraisals carried out by Parish Councils during late 1989 and early 1990 indicate that modest growth is preferred by residents in most parishes, with an emphasis on meeting locally generated needs. For example, there is general support for the provision of affordable housing and limited employment uses, to allow young people to stay in the village, and to enhance the living and working environment of Thanet's rural settlements.

POLICY R1 - GENERAL LEVELS OF DEVELOPMENT

WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE SPECIFIC HOUSING ALLOCATION AT MINSTER (POLICY H7) NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AT RURAL SETTLEMENTS WILL BE LIMITED TO MINOR DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THEIR CONFINES.

11.14.

Explanation:

The policy of the District Council is to concentrate new development in the Thanet towns, and to prevent levels of development in its rural settlements which might damage their character, amenity or functioning. What is minor development will be judged in relation to the scale of the development proposed and the size of the settlement.

11.15.

This Plan identifies sufficient land to meet expected requirements for housing land. In the short term, this does not necessitate the release of any additional land adjacent to Thanet’s existing rural settlements, other than at Minster, where the range of services and the presence of a railway station
makes a limited release of land for housing appropriate. The Council wishes to maintain the current pattern of development, in line with Kent County Council's rural settlement and conservation policies.

11.16.

The District Council considers that the only Thanet village suitable for more than minor development is Minster.

11.17.

The village confines, as defined on the Village Insets accompanying the Proposals Map, therefore indicate the limits to new development in the various settlements. The only exception to this general approach would be where a local housing need is identified in line with Policy H15. (It should be noted that the village confines are designed to perform a purely land use planning function, and are not intended to define parishes, or have any other social implications.)

11.18.

Village Gaps

There are a number of road frontage sites in the villages which provide outlook into the open countryside or onto other open spaces, or form an important break in the built environment of those villages.

11.19.

The Council considers that such gaps are an important part of the built character of the villages, and should be protected as such. The following Policy will therefore apply in these situations.

POLICY R2 - VILLAGE GAPS

THE FOLLOWING SITES SHOWN ON THE PROPOSALS MAP ARE IMPORTANT GAPS IN THE BUILT AREAS OF VILLAGES WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THE CHARACTER AND AMENITY OF THOSE VILLAGES, AND WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED SUITABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT:

  1. THE STREET, ACOL;
  2. SPRATLING STREET, MANSTON;
  3. GREENHILL GARDENS, MINSTER;
  4. THE STREET, MONKTON;
  5. A28/A253, SARRE; AND
  6. THE LENGTH, ST NICHOLAS.
11.20.

Village Services

Village services are also under threat. This includes shops, schools, pubs, bus and other services. The Council wishes to support the continuation of as many village services as possible. For example, with the continued population growth at Minster, the extension to the existing school is welcomed.

11.21.

The proximity of the villages to the urban areas and the high levels of car ownership mean that the continuation of such services is vulnerable to the operation of market forces. It may be that alternative voluntary methods of maintaining village services will need to be considered by the Parish Councils, in conjunction with Kent Rural Community Council.

POLICY R3 - VILLAGE SERVICES

PROPOSALS FOR THE USE OF EXISTING RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES IN THE VILLAGES TO PROVIDE SHOPS OR OTHER APPROPRIATE COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES OR SERVICES WILL BE PERMITTED, SUBJECT TO ENVIRONMENTAL AND TRAFFIC CONSIDERATIONS, AND MINIMUM IMPACT ON RESIDENTIAL AMENITY.

PROPOSALS FOR THE USE OF AGRICULTURAL BUILDINGS IN THE VILLAGES FOR SUCH PURPOSES WILL ALSO BE SUBJECT TO POLICIES R5 AND HE3.

11.22.

One of the concerns expressed in the Village Appraisals is the continued loss of village services. While the District Council is not in a position to provide such services directly, it believes that it should play a facilitating role as Local Planning Authority for the private and voluntary sectors in terms of a positive planning approach to new retail and commercial opportunities of a suitable scale.

11.23.

Village Shops

Village shops can provide a convenient and energy efficient source of shopping, fulfil a valuable social community function and contribute to the rural economy. Their viability will depend on customers continuing to use them. However, their loss can have a severe impact on the communities they serve. While trade protection is not a planning function, the District Council will use its powers to resist proposals which would threaten the viability of retention of a reasonable level of accessible shopping provision in the Thanet villages. In considering a reasonable level of shopping provision in relation to Policy R4, account will be taken of the size of the settlement and the community to be served. In addition to the following Policy, Policy R3 is also relevant.

POLICY R4 - VILLAGE SHOPS

THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO USE ITS PLANNING POWERS TO RETAIN A REASONABLE LEVEL OF SHOPPING PROVISION IN THANET'S RURAL SETTLEMENTS.

11.24.

Recreational Land

There has been a consistent shortfall of land available for recreational purposes throughout the District. Some of the villages do have sufficient recreation land. However, Minster, Sarre and Cliffs End in particular suffer from a shortfall of such land, and the Local Plan seeks to address this situation.

11.25.

Policies relating to village recreation land are contained in the Sport and Recreation Chapter of this Plan.

11.26.

Conservation and Enhancement

The enhancement of the built environment of the villages is clearly animportant aspect of the overall  rural economic and environmental strategy. The Policies contained in this Chapter seek to provide a basis on which to protect the built character of the villages.

11.27.

In terms of positive enhancement, the Heritage Chapter gives policy and other guidance in respect of the enhancement of Conservation Areas in the District. The Kent Landscape and Nature Guidelines also provide a foundation for landscape and related improvement to key village sites.

11.28.

For example, the Manston War Memorial is one of a number of village greens in Kent which have  been identified in the Commons Registration Act 1965. Although a relatively small piece of land, it is still common land of unique character, the only such land in Thanet which merits long-term protection.

11.29.

Conversion of Rural Buildings

Another aspect of rural diversification is the reuse of rural buildings. In recent years, many farm buildings have become redundant, in most cases because the buildings are of traditional construction and thus not suitable for modern farm machinery. Redundancy may also occur as a result of operational changes, farm rationalisation, or EU Common Agricultural Policy.

11.30.

Central Government advice is to support proposals for the conversion and reuse of such buildings wherever possible, to aid sustainable development objectives. Reuse for economic development purposes will usually be preferable, but residential conversions may be more appropriate in some locations and for some types of building.

11.31.

Such conversions might be particularly desirable where buildings are listed, or have other landscape value, and their long-term retention may be sought for these reasons.

11.32.

However, it is in the interest of the character of the Thanet landscape not to permit the conversion of buildings which are not sympathetic to their landscape setting by reason of size, design or built form. The District Council will not normally support the conversion or adaption of such buildings.

11.33.

Disused rural buildings may hold species protected by the Wildlife and Conservation Act 1981 and other legislation, for example, bats or barn owls. The conversion of such buildings should make provision for their continued use by protected species which are present. If this is not possible, an alternative roosting site should be provided nearby. This applies to Policies R5 and HE3.

(POLICY NOT SAVED) R5 - CONVERSION OF RURAL BUILDINGS

THE CONVERSION OF RURAL BUILDINGS TO OTHER USES WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE:

  1. THEIR FORM, BULK AND GENERAL DESIGN ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE CHARACTER OF THE SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE; AND
  2. THE PROPOSED USE IS ACCEPTABLE IN TERMS OF ITS IMPACT ON THE IMMEDIATE LOCALITY AND THE LOCAL HIGHWAY NETWORK.

WHERE THE BUILDING CURRENTLY HOLDS PROTECTED SPECIES, THE ONVERSION SHOULD ENSURE THE CONTINUED USE OF THE BUILDING FOR THAT PURPOSE, OR A SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE SITE SHOULD BE PROVIDED IN THE IMMEDIATE LOCALITY.

11.34.

Traffic In The Villages

The Village Appraisals have indicated a high degree of concern in respect of traffic and pedestrian safety in the villages. The recognition of this concern is reflected by the completion of the Sarre Highway Environmental Management Initiative (HEMI) or "traffic-calming" scheme.

(POLICY NOT SAVED) R6 - TRAFFIC IN THE VILLAGES

THE DISTRICT COUNCIL WILL PERMIT NEW TRAFFIC-CALMING MEASURES IN THE THANET VILLAGES. ACOL AND MINSTER ARE CONSIDERED TO BE PRIORITY SETTLEMENTS FOR SUCH MEASURES.

11.35.

Explanation:

The District Council believes that traffic calming plays a crucial role in improving the environment of villages, both for residents and to encourage their tourism role.

11.36.

The District Council believes that traffic calming should form an integralpart of environmental  improvements in all the Thanet villages. However, two Thanet villages are particularly subject to considerable traffic pressures.

11.37.

Acol and Minster experience high vehicle speeds on the approaches to,and through, their built-up  areas, and the Council believes that on both safety and local environmental grounds consideration should be given to the extension of such schemes to these villages. In the meantime, the Council would support traffic schemes that moderate the effects of traffic in the villages.

TARGETS

LP Implementation Target
Policy Area
Rural Settlements
Relevant Policies
R2
Indicator
Maintain all village gaps free from development
Target
Retain 100% of the village gaps
Monitoring
Development Control application decisions/appeals?

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