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

Green Infrastructure Network

4.29 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that local plans should plan positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and Green Infrastructure. It states that local ecological networks should be identified and these should include the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity, wildlife corridors, stepping stones that connect them, and areas identified by local partnerships for habitat restoration or creation.

4.30 Planning policies should promote the conservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species.

4.31 The NPPF also states that international, national and locally designated nature conservation sites should be protected, with appropriate weight given to the importance of their designation.

4.32 The NPPF states that existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land (including playing fields) should not be built on unless it can be demonstrated that the land is surplus to requirements or if it would be replaced by equivalent or improved provision. Planning policies should also protect and enhance public rights of way and access.

4.33 Thanet boasts a wealth of natural features including internationally and nationally designated sites and associated species, a magnificent coastline, chalk cliffs, geological features and areas of open countryside with distinctive landscapes and views. It is important that these are maintained and enhanced, and better linked to provide a comprehensive Green Infrastructure network.

4.34 Natural England defines Green Infrastructure (GI) as:

'..... a strategically planned and delivered network comprising the broadest range of high quality green spaces and other environmental features. It should be designed and managed as a multifunctional resource capable of delivering those ecological services and quality of life benefits required by the communities it serves and needed to underpin sustainability. Its design and management should also respect and enhance the character and distinctiveness of an area with regard to habitats and landscape types.

Green infrastructure includes established green spaces and new sites and should thread through and surround the built environment and connect the urban area to its wider rural hinterland. Consequently it needs to be delivered at all spatial scales from sub-regional to local neighbourhood levels, accommodating both accessible natural green spaces within local communities and often much larger sites in the urban fringe and wider countryside.'

4.35 Green infrastructure does not necessarily stop at District boundaries and so the District Council will work the other East Kent Councils to ensure that any Green Infrastructure strategy is compatible with adjacent studies. The various components that make up Thanet's existing Green Infrastructure is shown on policies map.

4.36 There are various Green Infrastructure projects being progressed by the Council and other organisations, and also a number of community projects. These include Dane Valley Woods, Westbrook Undercliffe Nature Park, Friends of Mocketts Wood, Montefiore Woodland and the Windmill Community Allotments. All large development sites will be expected to contribute to Thanet's Green Infrastructure by providing any of the following:

  • Integration of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs)
  • Planting of hedgerows
  • Provision of green roofs
  • Creation of ponds
  • Creation of urban green corridors
  • Creation of roadside verges
  • Tree planting
  • Provision of off-site enhancements
  • Provision of space for walking/informal recreation/dog walking in new developments
  • Other suitable planting schemes to provide biodiversity opportunities

4.37 The Council seeks to continue increasing and enhancing Thanet's Green Infrastructure network, and will encourage new community Green Infrastructure projects by working with relevant organisations. The Council will produce a Green Infrastructure Strategy in consultation with relevant groups and organisations following adoption of the Plan. The Plan sets out the strategic approach to Green Infrastructure in policy SP24 which aims to deliver the strategic objectives by protecting, maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and the natural environment and creating a coherent network of Green Infrastructure. More detail will be added in the forthcoming Green Infrastructure Strategy. Provision of new infrastructure in new developments, particularly for informal recreation and dog walking can help to reduce the impact of visitor pressure on the nature conservation interest at the coast. It can also aid restoration of the landscape, improve biodiversity and improve connectivity between habitats or habitat features such as hedgerows.

Policy SP24 - Green Infrastructure

All development proposals should respect and where possible, enhance Thanet's Green Infrastructure network by integrating Green Infrastructure provision in the design of developments. Opportunities to improve Thanet's Green Infrastructure network by protecting and enhancing existing Green Infrastructure assets and the connections between them, should be included early in the design process for major developments.

Development should make a positive contribution to Thanet's Green Infrastructure network by:

  • Creating new wildlife and biodiversity habitats
  • Providing and managing new accessible open space for informal recreation/walking and dog walking
  • Mitigating against the loss of any farmland bird habitats
  • Providing private gardens and play space;
  • Contributing towards the enhancement of Thanet's Biodiversity Opportunity Areas or the enhancement of the Green Wedges including the introduction of linear features such as native hedgerows
  • Reinforcing and/or restoring landscape character in line with the relevant landscape character assessment guidelines

Investment and developer contributions should be directed to improve and expand Green Infrastructure and provide connecting links where opportunities exist.