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

Views and Landscapes

4.13 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by protecting and enhancing valued landscapes.

4.14 Thanet has historically been recognised for its distinctive wide, simple and unrestricted views and dramatic chalk cliffs along parts of its coastline. The Thanet Coast is the longest continuous stretch of coastal chalk in the UK and is one of the reasons for its designation as Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Useful resources and guidance for the interpretation of landscape are the Natural England National Character Areas, the Kent Historic Landscape Characterisation (2001) which has identified the broad historic character of the landscape of Kent, and the Thanet Landscape Character Assessment. In addition KCC commissioned a Seascape Character Assessment for the Dover Strait (2015) which identifies the character areas associated with the Dover Strait from North Foreland to Dungeness.

4.15 Thanet has a distinct landscape area defined by the Wantsum channel which gave Thanet its "island" identity by separating it from the mainland. The Channel silted up around 1,000 years ago, and is characterised by former shoreline and port settlements and irregular fields bounded by roads, tracks and paths. The Wantsum has a history of reclamation and usage stretching back to at least the 12th and 13th centuries in connection with the considerable ecclesiastical estates in the region.

4.16 The contribution Thanet's landscapes make to Thanet's sense of place and island characteristics is very strong, as well as providing economic benefits in making the district an attractive place to settle and visit. Tourism and recreation uses compatible with Thanet's historic landscapes would be encouraged. Development would be expected to respect the diverse landscape characteristics of the countryside and coast. The character of the landscape within Thanet's countryside is varied, ranging from the distinctive sweep of Pegwell Bay, the flood plains of the River Stour and former Wantsum Channel, the open slopes of the former Wantsum Channel, the level to undulating Central Chalk Plateau, the wooded parkland at Quex and the urban coast. Landscape does not stop at administrative boundaries and two of the broad areas associated with Pegwell Bay and the Wantsum, continue into neighbouring districts of Dover and Canterbury. Developers may be required to submit a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) with planning applications that are likely to have a significant impact on the landscape. The LVIA should identify the nature, scale and magnitude of landscape and visual effects, and also help to identify ways of avoiding, reducing and mitigating any adverse effects. The Landscape Institute provides guidance on carrying out such an assessment.

4.17 Thanet sits within the Natural England's National Character Area (NCA)number 113 the North Kent Plain which sits between the outer Thames Estuary and the Kent Downs. This describes Thanet as a 'discrete and distinct area' within this NCA, characterised by its unity of land use. The Thanet Landscape Character Assessment (2017) refines this character area at the local level by identifying 7 broad landscape character types - chalk plateau, chalk slopes, undulating chalk farmland, parkland and estates, marshes, undeveloped coast and developed coast. These are further refined into 13 landscape character areas as set out below in table 7. The assessment sets out the key characteristics which are evaluated through key sensitivities and qualities leading to a landscape strategy setting out guidelines for each character area. These guidelines should be taken into consideration when considering development proposals within these areas. It is the Council's intention to adopt the Landscape Character Assessment as a Supplementary Planning Document which will provide a framework for future development when drawing up masterplans particularly for the strategic sites.

Table 7 - Landscape Character Areas

Landscape Character Type

Landscape Character Area

A: Chalk Plateau

A1: Manston Chalk Plateau

B: Chalk Slopes

B1:Wantsum North Slopes

C: Undulating Chalk Farmland

C1: St Nicholas-at-Wade Undulating Farmland


C2: Central Thanet Undulating Farmland


C3: St Peter's Undulating Farmland


C4: Newlands Farm

D: Parkland and Estates

D1: Quex Park

E: Marshes

E1: Stour Marshes


E2: Wade Marshes

F: Undeveloped Coast

F1: Pegwell Bay


F2: Foreness Point and North Foreness

G: Developed Coast

G1: Ramsgate and Broadstairs Cliffs


G2: North Thanet Coast

Map 2 - Landscape Character Areas

The Chalk Plateau

4.18 The central part of the district is characterised by A1: the Manston Chalk Plateau, a generally flat or gently undulating landscape, with extensive, unenclosed fields under intensive arable cultivation. This open landscape is fragmented by the location of large scale developments such as the former 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. This character area contains the highest point on the island at Telegraph Hill. The elevated plateau results in long distance panoramic views to the south over Minster Marshes and across Pegwell Bay and, in the west, across the Wantsum. The elevated central chalk plateau also forms a skyline in many views back from lower landscapes in Thanet, including the coast and marshlands.

The Chalk Slopes

4.19 This area largely comprises the distinctive and often quite steep hill slopes leading down from the Central Chalk Plateau to the former Wantsum Channel - B1: Wantsum Northern Slopes. 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.

4.20 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.

Undulating Chalk Farmland

4.21 The undulating chalk farmland is a particular landscape feature in Thanet and consists of four landscape character areas: C1: St Nicholas-at-Wade Undulating Farmland, C2: Central Thanet Undulating Farmland; C3: St Peter's Undulating Farmland; and C4: Newlands Farm. Some of these character areas are important for their long distant views to the marshes and sea while in others the agricultural land performs a settlement separation function. These areas of high quality agricultural land are of value for farmland and roosting coastal birds. The openness and undeveloped character of the farmland contributes to the essentially rural character and relatively dark skies.

Parks and Estates

4.22 Quex Park (D1) 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 Grade II listed. The parkland is intensively cultivated between the tree belts, with limited grazing pasture remaining. Two important historic features of the Park are the Grade II listed Waterloo Tower and a round castellated brick tower to the north of the main House.


4.23 The two marshland landscapes of E1: Stour Marshes and E2: Wade Marshes formerly separated the Isle of Thanet from the mainland and formed part of the former Wantsum channel. The former channel stretches from Reculver (in Canterbury District) to Richborough (in Dover district) marked by the remains of Roman forts at these locations. These Roman forts guarded the two entrances of the channel and the area is potentially rich in archaeology. Therefore this is a sub regionally important landscape as it extends into the neighbouring districts of Canterbury and Dover and includes the flood plain of the River Stour. Both areas are 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. The former grazing land has been improved and managed as arable farmland, however, it still retains its network of ditches which provide biodiversity interest. In both of these landscapes it is important to conserve the long distance views to the Thames Estuary to the north and Pegwell Bay to the south.

Undeveloped Coast

4.24 There are two stretches of undeveloped coast with the most extensive being Pegwell Bay (F1) which stretches into Dover District at Sandwich. The other is F2: Foreness Point and North Foreness to the north east of Thanet.

4.25 Pegwell Bay is an extensive area of mixed coastal habitats, including mudflats, saltmarsh and coastal scrub stretching from Ramsgate in the north to Sandwich in the south. 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. This is also of more than district significance as it stretches into the neighbouring district of Dover. The bay is of significant nature conservation interest which is reflected by its International, European and national designations.

Developed Coast

4.26 The long coastline is one of Thanet's main assets. There are two character areas associated with the developed coast G1: Ramsgate and Broadstairs Cliffs and G2: North Thanet Coast. The distinctive east facing low chalk cliffs of Thanet and the open seascape create a dramatic contrast to the almost continuous urban area of Ramsgate and Broadstairs located on the cliff top. The North Thanet Coast extends from the western edge of Birchington along the northern edge of Margate. The North Thanet Coast is characterised by a series of sandy bays with chalk reefs, mudflats and rock pools backed by a line of low white chalk cliffs.

4.27 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 chalk headlands provides long sweeping and panoramic views of the coast, which are often complimented by a positive relationship with adjacent built development.

4.28 The Thanet Landscape Character Assessment provides the more detailed guidance for development proposals in each of the local landscape character areas and will be adopted and supplementary planning guidance. The following policy aims to safeguard and enhance the open and historic characteristics of Thanet's countryside and landscapes.


 Policy SP23 - Landscape Character Areas

The Council will identify and support opportunities to conserve and enhance Thanet's landscape character and local distinctiveness.

Development proposals should demonstrate how their location, scale, design and materials will conserve and enhance Thanet's local distinctiveness, in particular:

  1. Its island quality surrounded by the silted marshes of the former Wantsum Channel and the sea;
  2. A sense of openness and 'big skies', particularly in the central part of the District;
  3. Its long, low chalk cliffs and the sense of 'wildness' experienced at the coast and on the marshes;
  4. Gaps between Thanet's towns and villages, particularly those areas designated as Green Wedges;
  5. Long-distance, open views, particularly across the Dover Strait and English Channel, North Sea and across adjacent lowland landscapes; and
  6. Subtle skylines and ridges which are prominent from lower lying landscape both within and beyond the District.

Development proposals should demonstrate how they respect and respond to the character, key sensitivities, qualities and guidelines of the relevant landscape character areas, as detailed in the Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) and summarised below.

All development should seek to avoid skyline intrusion and the loss or interruption of long views of the coast and the sea, and proposals should demonstrate how the development will take advantage of and engage with these views.

Development should generally be directed away from the Stour Marshes (E1), Wade Marshes (E2) and Pegwell Bay (F1) character areas (as detailed in the LCA), as these are largely undeveloped and key to retaining the island character of Thanet. The undeveloped character of Landscape Character Type F: Undeveloped Coast should also be maintained.

Proposals on the coast (within landscape character types F: Undeveloped Coast and G: Developed Coast and the surrounding area) should respect the traditional seafront architecture of the area, maintain existing open spaces and should ensure that recreational and wildlife opportunities are not compromised by development. Proposals should maintain and enhance the setting of sandy bays, low chalk cliffs and associated grassland and long sweeping views of the coastline.

The rural-urban boundary is distinctive in some parts of Thanet, particularly where there is an abrupt urban edge and where the countryside extends into the urban areas as Green Wedges. The distinction between town and countryside should be retained.

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 such cases, landscape impacts should be minimised and mitigated as far as possible.