Draft Thanet Local Plan to 2031 - Preferred Options Consultation

A) Thanet Preferred Option Draft Local Plan

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Quality Development

General Design Principles

13.1 There are many areas in Thanet which are considered to possess certain valuable qualities such as their open form of development, the separation between buildings and the positive contribution made by landscaping. The design, scale and grouping of existing buildings, the spaces between them, the texture, type and colour of materials, enclosure, land contours and views all contribute to the character and identity of a place. New development should respect and complement its surroundings, and enhance areas that are less attractive. Materials should normally be of a local type and harmonise with those of adjoining development (where these present a pleasing appearance). Architectural style should respect that of other development in the locality. Innovation in decoration can, if sensitively considered, enhance the identity and character of a building and place.

13.2 Buildings and the spaces around them should be thought about holistically, with the landscape and public realm being as important as the building itself. Successful landscape design will integrate development into its surroundings and enhance the function, character and amenity value of spaces and boundaries. Taking account of existing landscape features, such as trees, is crucial in creating high quality and responsive schemes. Existing trees can provide a sense of maturity to new developments and play an important role in softening and integrating development into the district. Landscape design extends beyond the curtilage of new buildings to include streets, parks and other open spaces and should help to support an attractive and high quality public realm. This policy does not seek to control the design of individual gardens unless these are a key part of a heritage asset.

13.3 Landscape proposals should result in high quality amenity spaces, which receive adequate sunlight (in accordance with best practice guidance) and which work with the buildings to help define thresholds and boundaries and to provide opportunities for private usable amenity space through gardens, roof terraces and balconies.

13.4 Maintenance and management plans must be provided with any proposals and considered early in the design process. Schemes which include species that support local distinctiveness, enhance biodiversity and cope with climatic changes will be favoured.

13.5 The function of a building is a major determinant of its built form. However, a principal aim in designing new development should be to respect and complement the merits of existing built and natural features including landscape, while still expressing and accommodating the function of the building through design.

13.6 Some buildings (e.g. public buildings) need to be of larger scale than others. However, the scale and proportion of existing development should generally be respected. It may be possible to break down the bulk of a large building (e.g. by insertion of horizontal design features) to achieve a satisfactory appearance in relation to adjoining plot widths and proportions and to break bland expanses down to a scale sympathetic to that of existing buildings.

13.7 Density is a measure of the number of dwellings which can be accommodated on a site or in an area and can affect the appearance and characteristics of development in the following of ways:

  • The space between buildings
  • Amenity and private access
  • Parking
  • Provision/retention of trees and shrubs
  • Levels of Surface water run off

13.8 Some parts of Thanet are already densely developed. Former holiday areas such as Cliftonville have seen significant numbers of conversions of large buildings (often previously used as hotels) into flatted accommodation which has, in some cases, had a detrimental impact due to small, poor quality developments, absent landlords, and a transient population. Other areas of the district benefit from lower density developments. The density of residential developments is not prescribed in this Plan, as, in all instances, the compatibility with the character of the area and the mix of housing to meet local needs or demand will influence design and layout.

13.9 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that local planning authorities should consider policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens where development would cause harm to the local area.

13.10 In Thanet, applications have been refused for development on garden land due to the impact the proposal would have on the character and appearance of the area. Some parts of the district enjoy a high quality environment, with spacious surroundings, and development within a garden could have a detrimental effect. Residential gardens also form part of Thanet’s green infrastructure providing biodiversity and wildlife habitats. However, there could also be instances where a development within a garden could be in keeping with the pattern of development, forms part of a comprehensive development, enhances the streetscene, or is situated where the property would be a frontage development.

The following policy seeks to ensure all new development respects and enhances local character.

Policy QD01 - General design principles

The primary planning aim in all new development is to promote or reinforce the local character of the area and provide high quality and inclusive design and be sustainable in all other respects. Development must:

1) Relate to the surrounding development, form and layout and strengthen links to the adjacent areas.

2) Be well designed, respect and enhance the character, context and identity of its location; particularly in scale, massing, rhythm and use of materials appropriate to the locality.

3) Be of a density, layout, scale, mass and design appropriate to the development itself and compatible with neighbouring buildings and spaces.

4) Incorporate a high degree of permeability for pedestrians and cyclists, consider access for public transport and provide safe and satisfactory means of pedestrian and vehicle access including provision for disabled access.

5) Improve people’s quality of life by creating safe and accessible environments, and promoting public safety and security.

Residential development on garden land will be permitted if it will make a positive visual contribution to the area, the intrinsic value of the site as an open space is not considered worthy of retention, and will not conflict with any other requirements of other design policies.

External spaces, landscape, public realm, and boundary treatments must be designed as an integral part of new development proposals and coordinated with adjacent sites and phases. Development will be supported where it is demonstrated that:

6) Existing features including trees, natural habitats, boundary treatments and historic street furniture and/or surfaces that positively contribute to the quality and character of an area are should be retained and protected where appropriate.

7) An integrated approach is taken to surface water management as part of the overall design.

8) A coordinated approach is taken to the design and siting of street furniture, boundary treatments, lighting, signage and public art.

9) Trees and other planting is incorporated, appropriate to both the scale of buildings and the space available.


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Living conditions

13.11 The increasing dominance of private housing and policies to maximise use of land have caused concern about homes having levels of “liveable” space. The Council intends to prepare supplementary guidance to promote high quality inclusive design covering internal space standards and additional relevant considerations such as garden space, refuse and cycle storage. It will also maintain a supplementary planning document setting out guidelines and standards for conversion of buildings to quality flats where such accommodation is acceptable.

13.12 It is important that sufficient homes are built or adapted to provide the flexibility to accommodate a range of life stages including for occupants with limited mobility and energy. Lifetime Homes Standards provide a set of simple features to make homes more flexible and functional for all.

13.13 There are opportunities to facilitate meetings between members of the community who might not otherwise come into contact with each other, including through mixed-use developments, strong neighbourhood centres and active street frontages which bring together those who work, live and play in the vicinity. Safe and accessible developments with clear and legible pedestrian routes and high quality open space will also help achieve this by encouraging the active and continual use of public areas.

13.14 Thanet suffers higher crime rates than the average for Kent. Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 places a duty on councils to do all they reasonably can to reduce crime and disorder locally and improve people’s quality of life as a result.

13.15 Design can help achieve a safer environment including in the following ways:

  • Well defined routes, spaces and entrances
  • Ensuring different uses do not conflict
  • Ensuring publicly accessible spaces are over-looked
  • Places that promote a sense of ownership
  • Physical protection (i.e. security features)
  • Places where human activity creates a sense of safety
  • Future management and maintenance


Policy QD02 - Living Conditions

All new development should:

1) Be compatible with neighbouring buildings and spaces and not lead to the unacceptable living conditions through overlooking, noise or vibration, light pollution, overshadowing, loss of natural light or sense of enclosure.

2) Be of appropriate size and layout with sufficient usable space to facilitate comfortable living conditions.

3) Residential development should include the provision of private or shared external amenity space/play space.

4) Provide for clothes drying facilities and waste disposal or bin storage, with a collection point for storage containers no further than 15 metres from where the collection vehicle will pass.


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13.16 Some advertisements need advertisement consent, and it is important that they are controlled through planning policy as they can form an integral part of the streetscene providing gaiety and colour, or they can be alien, intrusive and discordant. It is also important to make sure that they are not a danger to the public or highway safety. It is particularly important to consider their impact when they are located in conservation areas.


Policy QD03 - Advertisements

Applications for advertisements will be considered in relation to their effects upon amenity and public safety. Regard will be paid to the surrounding location, manner of illumination (if proposed), material composition, design and relationship to the land, building or structure to which they are to be affixed. Advertisements should not dominate but should be in balance with the character, townscape and architecture of the buildings on which they are situated. Regard should be paid to the proximity of any listed buildings or structures, and any impact to their setting.

In and adjoining conservation areas the Council will require that the design and siting of advertisements does not detract from, and preferably makes a positive contribution to, the character and/or appearance of the area.


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13.17 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that when preparing local plans, local planning authorities should support the expansion of electronic communications networks, including telecommunications and high speed broadband.

13.18 Mobile communications are now considered an integral part of the success of most business operations and individual lifestyles. With the growth of services such as mobile internet access, demand for new telecommunications is continuing to grow. The council is keen to facilitate this expansion whilst at the same time minimising any environmental impacts. It is the Council's aim to reduce the proliferation of new masts by encouraging mast sharing and siting equipment on existing tall structures and buildings.

Policy QD04 – Telecommunications

Proposals for telecommunications development will be permitted provided that the following criteria are met.

1) The siting and appearance of the proposed apparatus and associated structures should seek to minimise impact on the visual amenity, character and appearance of the surrounding area.

2) If on a building, apparatus and associated structures should be sited and designed to minimise impact to the external appearance of the host building.

3) If proposing a new mast, it should be demonstrated that the applicant has explored the possibility of erecting apparatus on existing buildings, masts or other structures. Such evidence should accompany any application made to the Council.

4) If proposing development in a sensitive area, the development should not have an unacceptable effect on areas of ecological interest, areas of landscape importance, archaeological sites, conservation areas or buildings of architectural or historic interest.

When considering applications for telecommunications development, the Council will have regard to the operational requirements of telecommunications networks and the technical limitations of the technology.


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