Draft Thanet Local Plan to 2031 - Preferred Options Consultation

District Profile

Thanet - the key issues and opportunities

In order to inform the plan for the future, we must have a good understanding of the characteristics of Thanet today, and the issues and opportunities that it presents. These are set out in the evidence and background papers supporting this consultation document.

The following profile of Thanet provides an overview of the key characteristics, problems, issues and opportunities that need to be addressed.

Profile of Thanet

Thanet lies at the eastern end of Kent, in close proximity to continental Europe. It has three main coastal towns of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. The built up area is densely populated and forms an almost continuous urban belt around the north east coast. This is separated by areas of countryside between the towns and providing relief in the built area. There are also attractive coastal and rural villages.

Map of District

The district has an area of 103 square kilometres and a resident population of 134,400[1]. About 30% of the district is urban with 95% of the population living in the main urban area around the coast. Thanet is the fourth most populated district inKent, with the second highest population density. Thanet is a popular area for retired people to live, and has the highest number of over 65 year olds in the county whilst having a lower proportion (59.6%) of 16-64 year olds than the county (62.6%).

The district of Thanet is a unique and vibrant coastal area, with an attractive environment and a number of unique features. There are 32 kilometres of coastline with attractive chalk cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches and bays, many of which have been awarded European Blue Flag status. Much of the coast is also recognised for its internationally important habitats, including coastal chalk and significant populations of coastal birds. This is reflected in the coast’s designation under international and national legislation, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas, and Specials Areas of Conservation. These areas are protected by legislation to prevent harm to them from development change and other activity.

Thanet is also rich in history, with over 2,600 listed buildings and 21 Conservation Areas. Its historic landscape contains many archaeological sites dating back to pre-historic times.

Outside of the urban area, much of the land is high quality and intensively farmed agricultural land.

Thanet has some areas which are at risk from flooding. These are confined to the low lying areas of the countryside to the south west of the district, and along the very edges of the coast, affecting small areas ofMargateand Ramsgate.

In 2005, a new town centre was established at Westwood. This brought many retailers not previously represented in Thanet, which has significantly reduced the ‘leakage’ of retail spend from the District. The centre continues to attract investment, with further development planned over the next few years. The area does however suffer from traffic congestion, and accessibility around the centre, particularly by foot, is not convenient.

The district benefits from excellent road access to and from the M25 andLondonvia the M2 and dual carriageway A299. Access to Doverand beyond is via the A256, with the recently completed East Kent Access Road providing dual carriageway for the majority of the route. Access to the nearby cathedral city ofCanterburyand to Ashford is via the single carriageway A28. Thanet has rail links to London, Canterbury, Dover and Ashford, and since 2009 High Speed domestic rail services operate from Thanet to London St Pancras using the High Speed 1 route via Ashford.

Thanet has an international airport whose current activity is predominantly in the freight market, but with some passenger services. Ramsgate is a major cross channel port with passenger and freight services toBelgium. It has also recently established itself as a base for servicing offshore wind farms.

The tourism sector has continued to grow over the last couple of years, compared with declines in the SE and England. However, Thanet has a generally weak economic and employment base, and is underperforming when compared to the region. Productivity is below the county average and Thanet experienced a steeper decline in total employment in 2011 than the South East and England. Thanet’s Business Parks have been slow to develop, and there is a significant amount of undeveloped employment land.

The towns’ high streets have continued to suffer, particularly Ramsgate andMargate, with vacancy rates significantly above the national average. However, alongside the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in April 2011, Margate’s Old Town and lower High Street has seen a significant number of new businesses opening,.

The district is ranked as the 49th most deprived district out of 326 authorities inEngland with the highest average proportion of households in poverty within Kent. Average skills levels of Thanet’s residents are lower than the rest of Kent and England, with unemployment levels (claimant count 2012) at 6.2%, twice that of Kent. Wage levels are also lower than the national and regional average.

IMD2010 Map

The overall quality of life of Thanet’s residents is extremely varied. Some residents in enjoy a very high quality of life, including living in high quality residential environments. However, Thanet also has a number of highly deprived wards with many people with support needs. These areas are also characterised with pockets of urban decline and poor housing stock. A key challenge is to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities by reducing inequalities in the area and improving quality of life for all.

[1] ONS mid-year population estimates (2011)

Back to How to Respond Page

Last modified by Jo Wadey - Thanet District Council 6 years ago