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


4.78 The National Planning Policy Statement (NPPF) states that local plans should set out 'a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment'. It places emphasis on putting heritage assets to viable uses, the wider benefits that can be achieved by the conservation of the historic environment and the desirability of new development in making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness. It also includes criteria which would need to be fulfilled for a proposed development which would lead to substantial harm or loss of a heritage asset.

4.79 Thanet's historic and natural environment defines the character and setting of the district, and contributes significantly to residents' quality of life. It is important to maintain and enhance the historic and natural environment against the background of a successful, growing district encouraging investment and regeneration.

4.80 The district's rich historic environment can trace its origins to pre-historic activity with the remains of all periods from the Palaeolithic to Modern recorded within the area, consisting of both burial and settlement archaeology. Within the area there are about 2000 listed buildings, 27 conservation areas, 13 scheduled monuments, 1 national registered park and garden of special historic interest, and a wealth of nationally and locally significant archaeological remains. In addition, there are numerous other heritage assets that, whilst not designated, are considered to be nationally, regionally or locally significant.

4.81 It is this rich heritage and the close proximity to the sea that gives the district its special character and distinctiveness; this is emphasised by the large number of highly graded designated heritage assets, often connected to the strong relationship with the sea either in the form of commerce, health or leisure. For example the Winter Gardens, Margate built in 1911 is the only known example of a winter Gardens constructed with a chalk cliff and is Grade II listed. In addition the Lido complex Cliftonville has various elements which are Grade II listed, including the Clifton baths which are one of the earliest surviving seawater bathing establishments in the Country being constructed between 1824-8 and is the only known example of one being dug out of the cliffs. The Lido complex has been vacant for a number of years and its restoration provides an important investment opportunity for this part of Cliftonville, see policy SP08.

4.82 Dreamland has seen significant renovation of and investment in its listed structures - cinema Grade II*, Scenic Railway Grade II - and is an important cultural and historic asset to the Margate seafront. The recent renovation of the Grade II menagerie enclosures and cages that once housed lions, is an important asset to the park. These early animal cage structures are listed for their rarity and exceptionality.

4.83 Ramsgate Royal Harbour, designated in 1821, has a number of Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings and structures ranging from the Customs House and Clock tower, harbour inner basin walls and Jacob's Ladder to rare seaside structures such as the East Cliff lift.

4.84 Thanet can be described as a district with a diverse and vibrant character. The character of the coastal areas owes much to the juxtaposition of grand seafront developments and the smaller scale domestic 'vernacular' buildings associated with working harbours and holiday resorts.

4.85 The character of the rural areas owes much to the strong links with early Christianity with the landing of St Augustine in 597 at Ebbsfleet, and the ensuing development of medieval parishes centred around the church.

4.86 Some of the special qualities of Thanet's historic environment include:

  • The richness of 18th, 19th and 20th century development linked to the sea, including grand residential terraces, harbours, leisure and health facilities as well as defence.
  • The strong associations with internationally recognised people and their significant legacies within the built environment. These include the renowned architect AW Pugin, the Victorian financier and philanthropist , Sir Moses Montefiore and the Victorian showman George Sanger, Bleak House Broadstairs Grade II listed and its associations with Charles Dickens
  • The presence of significant historic technical innovation, including the Scenic Railway Grade II *, Clifton baths Grade II, Albion Place Gardens Grade II and the Waterloo Tower at Quex.
  • The wealth of public and private historic open spaces including many planned squares, parks, cemeteries, chines, cliff top promenades, coastal topography and significant views
  • The Victorian/Edwardian suburbs and post-war housing developments (including Westgate on Sea)
  • Locally distinctive materials, flint, clinker brick, Kentish red bricks and Kent pegs
  • 27 conservation areas which vary considerably in age, size, character and style.
  • Around 2,000 statutory listed buildings in Thanet - the highest concentration in the South East.
  • A number of highly significant Grade I or II* listed buildings, including St Augustine's and Sir Moses Montefiore Synagogue, Ramsgate; Scenic Railway, Margate.
  • 13 Scheduled Ancient Monuments ranging from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries to Minster Abbey.
  • A designated Registered Park and Garden; Albion Place Gardens in Ramsgate.
  • A richness in archaeological remains. The remains of all periods from Paleolithic to Modern are recorded within the area and consist of both burial and settlement archaeology.

4.87 Thanet's heritage assets including the significant historic building stock and archaeological resource, are irreplaceable and require careful management as the area evolves and undergoes significant growth and regeneration.

4.88 The opportunities to retain, enhance and improve Thanet's historic environment include:

  • Using the income generated from the growing local tourism economy to invest in the maintenance and upkeep of historic assets;
  • Ensuring development schemes enhance the setting of heritage assets and do not detract from their character and the appearance of the area;
  • Supporting proposals for heritage led regeneration, ensuring that heritage assets are conserved, enhanced and their future secured.

4.89 Where development is proposed that may affect a heritage asset (designated or non-designated) or its setting, the Council will require the provision of the following information, proportionate to the asset's significance, in line with policy SP34 (3):

  • describe and assess the significance of the asset, including its setting, to determine its architectural, historical or archaeological interest; and
  • identify the impact of the proposed works on the significance and special character of the asset; and
  • provide clear justification for the works, especially if these would harm the significance of the asset or its setting, so that the harm can be weighed against public benefits.

A change of use of the heritage asset, is likely to be supported provided:

  • the proposed use is considered to be the optimum viable use, and is compatible with the fabric, interior, character, appearance and setting of the heritage asset;
  • such a change of use will demonstrably assist in the maintenance or enhancement of the heritage asset; and
  • features essential to the special interest of the individual heritage asset are not lost or altered to facilitate the change of use.

4.90 A Heritage Strategy is being prepared for Thanet. It is proposed that the strategy will be developed alongside the Local Plan and we have started to develop an evidence base to support this strategy and the Local Plan. The evidence includes assessing the significance of heritage assets in the area, including their settings, and the contribution they make to their environment. It also involves assessing the potential of finding new sites of archaeological or historic interest.

4.91 The preservation of Thanet's heritage is considered to be an economic asset, and its maintenance and protection plays an important role in the district's economy and aids in regeneration and investment. In recognition of the array of historic assets, Ramsgate has been named as Heritage Action Zone in 2016 by Historic England. This will provide necessary funding and investment to restore a number of heritage assets and regeneration of the area.

4.92 The Council aims to work with property owners and other stakeholders in the historic environment to both protect and enhance the historic environment and ensure its economic viability for future generations. One such scheme is the Townscape Heritage Initiative at Dalby Square, Cliftonville funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Council. This aims to restore the built environment to its former grandeur which would then be seen as an asset and encourage further investment in this area. The following policy sets out how it intends to achieve this.

Policy SP34 - Conservation and Enhancement of Thanet's Historic Environment

The Council will support, value and have regard to the historic or archaeological significance of Heritage Assets by:

1. protecting the historic environment from inappropriate development,

2. encouraging new uses where they bring listed buildings back into use, encouraging their survival and maintenance without compromising the conservation of the building or its historical or archaeological significance,

3. requiring the provision of information describing the significance of any heritage asset affected and the impact of the proposed development on this significance,

4. facilitating the review of Conservation Areas and the opportunities for new designations,

5. recognising other local assets through Local Lists,

6. offering help, advice and information about the historic environment by providing guidance to stakeholders, producing new guidance leaflets, reviewing existing guidance leaflets and promoting events which make the historic environment accessible to all,

7. issuing Article 4 Directions which will be introduced and reviewed as appropriate,

8. supporting development that is of high quality design and supports sustainable development.

All reviews and designations will be carried out in consultation with the public in order to bring a shared understanding of the reasons for the designation and the importance of the heritage asset.