Draft Thanet Local Plan - 2031 - Pre-Submission Publication, Regulation 19

4 - Environment Strategy

Protecting the Countryside

4.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that local plans should take account of the roles and character of different areas, promoting the vitality of our main urban areas and recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside.

4.2 Thanet's open countryside is particularly vulnerable to development because of its limited extent, the openness and flatness of the rural landscape and the proximity of the towns. Thanet's countryside provides important landscapes that contribute to its sense of place, as well as making Thanet an attractive place that people want to come to. Much of the countryside is classified as 'best and most versatile agricultural land'. The countryside also supports a variety of habitats and species, particularly a number of important species of farmland birds which have declined in numbers over the last few decades.

4.3 There is a presumption against development in the countryside as the sites allocated in this plan meet the development needs of the district. The Council has assessed all of the sites put forward, and some have been allocated in rural settlements where this has been considered appropriate to meet the needs of sustainable development

4.4 The Council considers that it is essential to protect the countryside through planning policy in view of its vulnerability to sporadic forms of development and will locate all but essentially rural development in the Thanet towns. The only exception to this will be proposals for development that meet the criteria set out in paragraph 55 of the NPPF:

  • The essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside; or
  • Where such development would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets; or
  • Where the development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting; or
  • The exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling.

Such a design should:

  • Be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas
  • Reflect the highest standards in architecture
  • Significantly enhance its immediate setting; and
  • Be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area

The following policy seeks to achieve the objective of safeguarding the geological and scenic value of the coast and countryside.

Policy SP21 - Development in the Countryside

Development in the countryside outside of the urban and village confines, as identified on the Policies Map and not otherwise allocated for development, will not be permitted unless there is a need for the development that overrides the need to protect the countryside and any adverse environmental effects can be avoided or fully mitigated subject to the provisions of other policies.