Thanet's New Local Plan - Options consultation

Issue 17 - How can we protect and enhance Thanet's heritage assets and their settings?


Why do we need to address this issue?

A key issue for the new Local Plan will be to ensure that all new development respects and understands the heritage of the District, balancing the need for growth against the need to protect and enhance the historic environment

National planning policy states that local plans should set out 'a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment'. It places more 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.

What evidence we have on this issue

A Heritage Strategy is being prepared for Thanet. It is proposed that it will be aligned with 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.

Evidence relating to the historic environment in Thanet can currently be found in the Kent Historic Environment Record, as well as Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plan.

Key Facts and Information

The following key facts are important when considering how we protect and enhance heritage assets and their settings.

  • Thanet has 21 conservation areas which vary considerably in age, size, character and style.
  • There are approximately 2,500 statutory listed buildings in Thanet - the highest concentration in the South East.
  • Thanet has a number of highly significant Grade I or II* listed buildings, including St Augustine's and Sir Moses Montefiore Synagogue, Ramsgate, Scenic Railway, Margate.
  • Thanet has 12 Scheduled Ancient monuments, including Monastic Grange and pre-conquest Nunnery at Minster Abbey.
  • Thanet is also rich in archaeological remains. The remains of all periods from Neolithic to Modern are recorded within the area and consist of both burial and settlement archaeology.
  • There are also Areas of High Townscape Value which have valuable characteristics.

Thanet is a pre-dominantly coastal district which is interspersed with rural settlements. Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs are the principal settlements in Thanet, and each is famous for its seaside setting and attractive historic town centres.

Thanet can trace its origins to pre-historic activity with the remains of all periods from the Neolithic to Modern recorded within the area, and consist of both burial and settlement archaeology. 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 in the form of commerce, health or leisure.

Thanet can be described as a district with a diverse and vibrant character. The character of the district 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. The character of the rural areas owes much to the strong links with early Christianity and the ensuing development of medieval parishes centred on the church.

Some of the key distinctive 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 including AW Pugin, Sir Moses Montefiore and George Sanger and their significant legacies within the built environment.
  • The presence of significant historic technical innovation (including the Scenic Railway, Clifton baths, Albion Gardens)
  • 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)

Considering how we protect and enhance Thanet's heritage assets and their settings

Along with the key facts and information above, the following are factors to take into account and to help you consider how we protect and enhance heritage assets and their settings

National Policy requires Local Plans to include a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment. Given the importance of the District's heritage and its wider social, economic and environmental benefits and the role that the historic environment can play in regeneration, this is considered essential for the District.

Based upon our current understanding of the historic environment in Thanet, we consider the following issues to be integral to developing a positive strategy for the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment.

  • The continued preservation and enhancement of existing, and, where appropriate, designation of new Conservation Areas. This would need to be supported by the on-going production and review of Conservation Area Appraisals. Consideration will also need to be given to the principle of Article 4 directions in Conservation Areas. These restrict permitted development rights (the ability to make certain types of minor changes to houses and commercial property without needing to apply for planning permission).
  • The continued protection and enhancement of listed buildings, historic parks and gardens and scheduled monuments, buildings of local interest and other heritage assets.
  • The identification and, where appropriate, protection of the District's archaeological heritage.
  • Addressing Heritage at Risk (including those assets on the Heritage at Risk Register) in a positive and proactive manner.
  • Listed buildings are designated by English Heritage under certain criteria; however there are other important historic buildings in Thanet which are not listed, so currently not protected by any specific policy. These buildings could form a 'local list' which would be designated by the Council, and subsequently afforded protection through planning policy.
  • Ensuring that information about heritage assets produced as part of plan making and development proposals are made publicly accessible in order to improve our understanding of the historic environment.

Policy options

National policy sets out in detail the way in which applications affecting heritage assets and non-designated heritage assets should be determined. It is therefore not considered necessary to repeat national policy; however it may be necessary to develop policies relating to the following issues:

  • To support the function of a 'local list' it would be necessary to include a policy within the Local Plan setting out the criteria that will be considered for applications.
  • There is an increasing number of planning applications for solar panels, and other renewable energy installations, to both public buildings and private dwellings. It is likely that applications will be received for listed buildings, and buildings in conservation areas. It may therefore be necessary to develop a criteria based policy for assessing these proposals.
  • There are a number of historically significant sites in the District. It may be necessary to develop site specific policies where particular requirements for the development of this site are required in order to protect and enhance the historic value of the site.