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

14 - Heritage


14.1 Thanet, the former island located at the north eastern point of Kent and in close proximity to continental Europe, has long been a gateway to new settlers, ideas, trade and custom into Britain and on the frontline of invasion and defence. Some of the great events in the nation's early history have taken place in or close to Thanet including the arrival of the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Christianity. The result is an incredible wealth of archaeological remains throughout the island dating from earliest prehistoric times to the present day. Across Thanet's towns, villages and countryside, archaeological investigation is regularly making new discoveries of remains that are of regional and national importance and that in many cases exhibit a character that is unique to the former island. The archaeology of Thanet stands comparison with any area of the country.

14.2 Much of Thanet's archaeology lies shallowly buried beneath the plough soils of the island's agricultural lands. Here aerial photography and top soil stripping ahead of major infrastructure and other development works has in recent years revealed extensive buried archaeological landscapes, particularly of prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon date, that are changing our understanding of settlement and other activities at those times. Within the towns and villages, as well as remains of these earlier periods are often found remains, sometimes more deeply buried, associated with the medieval development of the settlements and extending through their periods of growth and industrial development to their 19th and 20th century prominence. Elsewhere across Thanet can be found buried and standing remains associated with the defence of the coast and the former airfield at Manston, the industrial heritage of the area and the development of the historic landscape. Much of this rich archaeological resource can be particularly vulnerable to new development both in undeveloped and brownfield sites.

14.3 It is not possible for this summary for the Local Plan to provide a comprehensive overview of the archaeology of Thanet, however particular themes particularly relevant for land-use planning are:

  • Deposits and features associated with the formation of the island and the creation of the Wantsum Channel and its later reclamation for agricultural land;
  • The evidence of early hunter gatherer peoples on Thanet which can be seen in the Pleistocene deposits of the island particularly at Pegwell Bay and Manston;
  • The rich and extensive ritual and funerary buried landscapes of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. Particular highlights are the major monuments of the causewayed enclosures at Chalk Hill, Pegwell and the remains of hundreds of late Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows;
  • Extensive buried landscapes of the settlements, farmsteads, trackways and agricultural lands of the later prehistoric peoples of Thanet. Recent investigations on major development schemes such as East Kent Access 2 and Thanet Earth have illustrated the layout and development of large tracts of the later prehistoric landscape. Evidence of major enclosed sites has been found in several places for example North Foreland, Dumpton, Pegwell Bay and Fort Hill, Margate;
  • A rich Romano-British landscape that saw the development of villa estates (for example at Tivoli and Minster), a pattern of coastal and inland settlement that saw the construction of sunken-featured buildings of a type rarely found outside Thanet, linked by a network of roads and trackways, and the establishment of small cemeteries of both inhumation and cremation burial rites. The inhabitants of Thanet at this time would have borne witness to the arrival and departure of the Romans at nearby Richborough and lived under the influence of that major port of entry;
  • The arrival of the Anglo-Saxons is celebrated in Thanet through the tradition of the arrival of Hengist and Horsa (AD 449) at Ebbsfleet near Cliffsend. Remains of the new settlers can be seen in the rich cemeteries that can be found throughout the island and the occasional evidence of dispersed settlement that has been found on a number of sites and is difficult to locate other than through stripping of large areas;
  • AD 597 saw the arrival in Thanet of a mission from Pope Gregory in Rome led by the monk Augustine. The growth of the church and its influence on Thanet can be seen in the establishment of the convent at Minster, the presence of a number of monastic granges and parish churches. Evidence for the early development of the villages can also be traced in the fabric of surviving historic buildings and buried deposits in the core of the settlements.
  • Archaeological deposits connected with the origins and development of Thanet's main towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, their ports and development as 19th and 20th leisure resorts survive both in the ground and the fabric of the standing remains. Large numbers of wrecks are present around the coast e.g. Goodwin Sands.
  • Remains of coastal and other anti-invasion defences and the important military and civilian airfield at Manston which had its origins in the First World War and continued as an important military airfield into the Cold War.  

14.4 In response to their likely potential impact on important archaeological remains, the Council considers it essential for new development proposals to assess and understand the effect that they may have on the significance of archaeological remains whether known or as yet undiscovered. Because Thanet's heritage is such a valuable and irreplaceable resource the following policy applies:

Policy HE01 - Archaeology

The Council will promote the identification, recording, protection and enhancement of archaeological sites, monuments and historic landscape features, and will seek to encourage and develop their educational, recreational and tourist potential through management and interpretation

Developers should submit information with the planning application that allows an assessment of the impact of the proposal on the significance of the heritage asset. Where appropriate the Council may require the developer to provide additional information in the form of a desk-based or field assessment. Planning permission will be refused without adequate assessment of the archaeological implications of the proposal.

Development proposals adversely affecting the integrity or setting of Scheduled Monuments or other heritage assets of comparable significance will normally be refused.

Where the case for development which would affect an archaeological site is accepted by the Council, preservation in situ of archaeological remains will normally be sought. Where this is not possible or not justified, appropriate provision for investigation and recording will be required. The fieldwork should define:

  1. The character, significance, extent and condition of any archaeological deposits or structures within the application site;
  2. The likely impact of the proposed development on these features;
  3. The means of mitigating the effect of the proposed development.

Recording should be carried out by an appropriately qualified archaeologist or archaeological contractor and may take place in advance of and during development. No work shall take place until a specification for the archaeological work has been submitted and approved by the Council. Arrangements must also be in place for any necessary post-excavation assessment, analysis and publication of the results, and deposition of the archive in a suitable, accessible repository.