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Local Plan


chapter 12 header image


12.1 Shepway has a rich and diverse landscape ranging from the rolling chalk downland and dry valleys of the North Downs, through the scarp and dip slope of the Old Romney Shoreline, to Romney Marsh and the unique shingle feature of the Dungeness peninsula. This diversity is reflected in the range of Natural Areas and Countryside Character Areas, identified by English Nature and the Countryside Agency respectively, which cover the District. The particular landscape and wildlife value of large parts of the District is also recognised through protective countryside designations, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Heritage Coastline, as well as the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The countryside also plays host to a wide range of activities and it is recognised that the health of the rural economy and the health of the countryside are inter-linked. A function of the Local Plan is to achieve a sustainable pattern of development in the countryside. This involves a balance between the needs of rural land users and maintaining and enhancing countryside character and quality.

12.2 This balance is achieved in two main ways:-

a. By focussing most development in urban areas, particularly on previously developed sites and ensuring that sufficient land is allocated to meet identified development requirements, thus reducing uncertainty and speculation on ‘greenfield’ sites in the countryside.

b. By making firm policy statements relating to: the general principles to be applied to all proposals in the countryside; specific types of development in the countryside; and the protection of particularly important areas.

Aims and Objectives

12.3 The broad countryside aims of the Plan are:-

1. To maintain and enhance the distinct character, functioning and quality of the countryside, (including rural towns and villages) and, conserve important natural resources.

2. To encourage economic activity and viable communities in rural areas in ways which are compatible with environmental aims and objectives.

12.4 The Plan’s countryside objectives are:-

1. To identify areas of countryside that are of special importance by virtue of their landscape or nature conservation value.

2. To protect and enhance the special quality and character of the areas identified in objective 1 above and also the wider countryside.

3. To realise the potential of the countryside for appropriate tourism, leisure, recreation, employment, housing and agricultural–related opportunities.

4. To provide policy guidance for uses requiring a rural location including to ensure that development: is appropriate in location and appearance; minimises local environmental impacts and where possible; compensates for unavoidable negative effects.

5. To safeguard and improve the viability of rural towns and villages.

Development in the countryside

12.5 Policy CO1 sets out the broad principles against which development proposals in the countryside will be assessed, supplementing Policy SD1 and the provisions of Structure Plan Policies ENV1, ENV2, RS1 and RS5 (1996 Adopted Plan). The aim of this policy is ensure that any development that is permitted in the countryside maintains and where possible enhances local quality and character and respects other sustainability objectives. Where development is exceptionally permitted which would have negative local environmental consequences, proposals should seek to minimise these impacts in the first instance, and secondly, compensate for any unavoidable effects to seek to ensure that no net environmental loss occurs.

12.6 Other Plan Policies elaborate upon the factors that will be considered when determining applications for specific types of development. Subsequent Countryside policies also provide additional guidance on the approach that should be taken to development in particular countryside locations such as landscape and wildlife designations and areas of the best and most versatile agricultural land.

POLICY CO1 The District Planning Authority will protect the countryside for its own sake. Subject to other Plan policies, development in the countryside will be permitted where proposals:

a) maintain or enhance features of landscape, wildlife, historic, geological and agricultural importance, and the particular quality and character of the countryside;

b) demonstrate that they cannot be practicably located within an existing settlement and essentially require a countryside location;

c) are of a high standard of design and, sympathetic in scale and appearance to their setting;

d) are acceptable in highway and infrastructure terms and;

e) preserve or enhance the amenity, character and functioning of rural towns and villages.

Development proposals that would significantly conflict with one or more of criteria a - e above will only be permitted where it can be shown that:

i) there is an overriding social or economic need;

ii) negative impacts are minimised as far as possible and;

iii) adequate measures will be taken to compensate for any the adverse environmental effect.Compensatory measures should, as a minimum, ensure that no net environmental loss occurs.

Note: For the purposes of Policy CO1, the Countryside is defined as the area outside of the settlement boundaries identified on the proposals map. Where land in the countryside is allocated on the proposals map for a specific development purpose, the associated policy will take precedence over Policy CO1.

Rural settlement

12.7 In the interests of sustainability and minimising the use of fresh land, Structure Plan Policy S6 (1996 Adopted Plan) states that housing provision should be concentrated in the 19 urban areas of Kent. It is recognised however that rural settlements also have a role to play in meeting overall requirements and providing choice of location. New development at rural towns and villages can help create more viable communities through supporting the provision of local services. Structure Plan rural settlement policies provide a framework for the control of development in the District’s rural towns and villages. The following settlement hierarchy table clarifies which settlements fall within which policy:-

Policy applicable

Structure Plan Policy S6
(Main Housing Provision)

Structure Plan Policy EK3
(Strategic Land Release)

Structure Plan Policy RS3(a)
(Villages and small rural towns
with potential for development
excess of minor development)

Structure Plan Policy RS2
(Villages where only minor
development such as
infilling is acceptable)

Structure Plan Policy RS3(b)
(Villages where priority is to
maintain special character)

Structure Plan Policy RS5
(and Local Plan Policy CO1)


Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate, Seabrook
& Saltwood


Lydd, New Romney inc. Greatstone &
Littlestone, Dymchurch & St Mary’s Bay

Densole, Elham, Etchinghill, Lyminge, Lympne,
Newingreen, Newington, Peene, Sellindge,
Stanford & West Hythe
Brenzett, Brookland, Burmarsh, Ivychurch,
Lydd-on-Sea & Newchurch

Postling, Stelling Minnis & Old Romney

All areas outside of the settlement boundaries
(and Local Plan Policy CO1) defined on the proposals map

POLICY CO2 The settlement hierarchy identified in the above Table and the settlement boundaries defined on the Proposals Map, will be used by the District Planning Authority in its interpretation of Structure Plan Policies S6, EK3, RS2, RS3(a)&(b) and RS5 (1996 Adopted Plan) when considering proposals for development.


12.8 The national importance of the North Downs landscape is recognised by its inclusion in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The primary objective of the AONB is conservation of the natural beauty of the landscape and this should be reflected in Local Plan Policy and development control.

12.9 A Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) has been established comprising the District Council and a range of other bodies and organisations including other local authorities within the AONB, the Countryside Agency and English Nature. The JAC seeks to encourage a co-ordinated approach to management of the AONB and prepared a Management Strategy to address the main environmental and socio-economic issues facing the area.

POLICY CO3 In assessing proposals affecting the designated Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the District Planning Authority will give priority to the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty, including landscape, wildlife and geological features, over other planning considerations. Proposals should protect or enhance the natural beauty of the AONB. Development inconsistent with this objective will not be permitted unless:

i) the economic and social benefits of a proposal outweigh the primary objective of conserving natural beauty or;

ii) in the case of major commercial and industrial schemes, there is a proven national interest and a lack of alternative sites.

12.10 The Structure Plan identifies areas of county-wide landscape importance as Special Landscape Areas (SLAs). Within Shepway, these incorporate the North Downs AONB, Old Romney Shoreline and Dungeness. SLAs have been identified through a process of landscape assessment and their detailed boundaries defined on the proposals map. The long-term protection of these areas and the conservation and enhancement of their natural beauty is given priority by Structure Plan Policy ENV4(1996 Adopted Plan). Development within the AONB and SLA should be kept to a minimum and where acceptable, should be designed and constructed so that the visual impact on the landscape is minimised and it makes a positive contribution to the attractiveness of the area.

POLICY CO4 Special Landscape Areas are defined as follows and illustrated on the proposals map:

North Downs (including the scarp and crest)

Old Romney Shoreline


Proposals should protect or enhance the natural beauty of the Special Landscape Area. The District Planning Authority will not permit development proposals that are inconsistent with this objective unless the need to secure economic and social wellbeing outweighs the need to protect the SLAs countywide landscape significance.

Where areas are also within the Kent Downs AONB, Policy CO3 will take precedence.

12.11 Outside of the Special Landscape Area, there are parts of the District which are of particular local landscape value and / or act as green buffers within or adjoining urban areas, contributing to local environmental quality and identity.

POLICY CO5 Local Landscape Areas are defined as follows and illustrated on the proposals map:

Romney Marsh

Sandgate Escarpment and Seabrook Valley

Eaton Lands

Coolinge Lane and Enbrook Valley

Mill Lease Valley

Proposals should protect or enhance the landscape character and functioning of Local Landscape Areas. The District Planning Authority will not permit development proposals that are inconsistent with this objective unless the need to secure economic and social well-being outweighs the need to protect the area’s local landscape importance.

12.12 Landscape Assessments provide a consistent means of identifying areas of distinctive countryside character as well as the key landscape elements that help to define it. Appendix 8 outlines the main function, characteristics and features that should be protected of the different Local Landscape Areas detailed in Policy CO5 above. Landscape assessments for other areas of Shepway’s countryside have been undertaken by the Countryside Commission and / or the Kent County Council. These include:-

• The Kent Downs Landscape – An Assessment of the Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty (1995);

• Romney Marsh Landscape Assessment and Guidelines (March 1998).

• Greensand Belt Landscape Assessment and Guidelines (March 1998).

Landscape assessment information will be used as a starting point for determining the impact of development on the landscape.

Heritage coast and undeveloped coast

12.13 Heritage Coast and other areas of undeveloped coastline within Shepway are protected by Kent Structure Plan Policies ENV9 and ENV10. Such areas can be of importance for a number of reasons including their natural beauty, heritage, wildlife and scientific value. They may also offer opportunities for informal recreation although the need to conserve and enhance their environmental qualities should be the primary objective. Coastal development can be highly prominent on the skyline and visible from long distances. The undeveloped and Heritage Coast as identified on the proposals map should not be expected to accommodate development not requiring a coastal location or that which could realistically be situated within already developed parts of the coast.

12.14 The cliffs between Folkestone Warren and Dover, included within the AONB, have been designated as Heritage Coast by the Countryside Commission in recognition of their national importance. The Council, in consultation with Dover District Council and the Countryside Commission has defined inland and lateral boundaries for the Folkestone to Dover Heritage Coast.

12.15 There are also significant areas of other undeveloped coast within the District, which are dynamic and vulnerable to coastal processes and often specifically identified for its nature conservation importance. The main stretch of undeveloped coast spans from Dungeness to Greatstone-on-Sea although smaller expanses exist between the built-up coastal areas from Littlestone to Hythe. Areas range in character from sand dunes to tidal mudflats to extensive shingle deposits. The seaward boundary for both the Heritage and undeveloped coast reflects the mean low water mark.

12.16 The District Council will take measures to enhance the landscape, natural and historical value of the Heritage Coast and undeveloped coast, both independently and in partnership with other appropriate organisations as resources allow. The Council previously prepared a Management Plan for the East Cliff and Warren Country Park. The White Cliffs Countryside Project has since produced a Dover - Folkestone Heritage Coast Management Plan. This aims to maintain and enhance the Heritage Coast through resolving potential conflicts between conservation of natural environmental and cultural resources, providing for public enjoyment and, accommodating sustainable forms of economic and social development.

POLICY CO6 The District Planning Authority will give long term protection to the Folkestone and Dover Heritage Coast and to the areas of undeveloped coast shown on the Proposals Map. Within these areas development will not be permitted unless proposals preserve and enhance natural beauty, landscape, heritage, scientific and nature conservation value (consistent with any agreed management plan).

In all cases, it must be demonstrated that a coastal location is required for development and that no suitable site exists along the developed coast. Proposals should where practicable also maintain or improve public access to the coast where this can be achieved without compromising conservation objectives.

Heritage coast coast site shown on the Proposals Map:

- Folkestone/Dover

Other undeveloped coast sites shown on the Proposals Map:

- West Hythe
- Dymchurch
- St Mary's Bay
- Dungeness


12.17 Woodland, particularly Ancient Woodland, is an important feature which contributes to the many and varied wildlife habitats and landscapes of the District. A number of these woodlands are also accessible to the public, providing an informal recreation resource. Shepway’s ancient woodlands have normally existed since medieval times without ever having been cleared other than for timber production. As such, they would be extremely difficult to replace and their loss should be strongly resisted. Protection is afforded to woodland generally through the landscape protection and nature conservation policies. In light of the acknowledged importance of Ancient Woodlands, specific protection will be given through the following policy:-

POLICY CO7 The Local Planning Authority will not permit development which would harm the nature conservation, landscape and scientific value of Ancient Woodland as identified on the Proposals Map.

Environmental assessment

12.18 The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999, require Environmental Assessments (EAs ) to be carried out where it is considered that proposals would give rise to significant environmental effects. Two schedules of projects are specified. Schedule 1 sets out developments that will always require an assessment, whilst Schedule 2 identifies projects that may need an assessment if they are likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as size, nature or location. The Assessment should consider such matters as impact on people, flora, fauna, natural resources including air, water and soil, climate, cultural heritage, landscape and material assets.

Three criteria are to be used in assessing the need for an EA in respect of projects which come under Schedule 2:-

1. Major Projects of More than Local Importance
Development which due to its significance of scale will have wide-ranging environmental consequences.

2. Projects in Sensitive Locations
The more sensitive or vulnerable a location, the more likely that environmental impacts will be significant and that an EA will be justified. The District Planning Authority will request an EA for smaller scale projects where it is considered that development is likely to create significant environmental effects by virtue of its location.

3. Projects with Particularly Complex and Potentially Adverse Effects
Certain developments may potentially create adverse environmental impacts such as air and water pollution far removed from its location.

12.19 In dealing with Environmental Assessments, the District Planning Authority supports relevant advice set out in the Kent County Council Environmental Assessment Handbook. The District Planning Authority has a responsibility to consider the environmental implications of all development, not just those requiring a formal Assessment. Thus, even in assessing proposals outside of the scope of the Regulations, the Planning Authority may request necessary information from applicants relating to the likely environmental effects of development.

Nature conservation

12.20 ‘Biodiversity’ (the range of plant and animal species) promotes an attractive and healthy countryside through helping regulate natural processes like climate change and enabling wildlife to adapt to such changing conditions. A species cannot be re-created and their loss will inevitably impact on wider environmental systems. Biodiversity provides a direct human resource including opportunities for providing new and improved medicines, crop and livestock varieties and also potential for employment creation related to land management and tourism. The UK Action Plan for Biodiversity was published by Government in 1994 prompting the identification of costed targets and proposed actions for over 100 species and 14 habitats across the UK. The Kent Biodiversity Action Plan was produced in November 1997 as the County’s response to these national initiatives. The District Council is to produce a Local Biodiversity statement in 2002.

12.21 Shepway contains a rich diversity of habitats and species. Habitats range from rolling chalk downland to low lying marsh, shingle and dune areas. The Kent Wildlife Habitat Survey records that Shepway has the second highest number of habitats for a District in Kent. In recognition of the District’s many valuable nature conservation resources, as at November 2001, the following designations have been made or are proposed.

• Substantial parts of Dungeness and the Folkestone to Etchinghill Escarpment contributes to the “Natura 2000” series, through the identification of internationally important areas under European Law (also see paragraphs 12.35 and 12.36)

• English Nature has designated 15 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) due to their particular scientific and wildlife value. Substantial parts of Dungeness and the Folkestone to Etchinghill Escarpment SSSIs have also been identified for their international nature conservation importance.

• The Dungeness National Nature Reserve was designated in June 1998. The Council has established part of the Folkestone East Cliff and Warren as a Local Nature Reserve and proposes others within the District as suitable opportunities arise.

• The Kent Wildlife Trust has identified 37 Wildlife Sites (formerly known as Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCIs) of local or countywide wildlife importance.

12.22 The above hierarchy of nature conservation designations is identified in Policies CO8, CO9, C10 and CO14 below and is shown on the Proposals Map. Individual nature conservation designation sites are listed Appendix 8. In addition, Shepway contains a broad range of important species, including those protected under law. Due to changing population, roosting or feeding locations, the occurrence of these species will often not be restricted to designated sites. Similarly, other habitats and landscape features of importance for nature conservation such as ponds, trees, hedgerows and other vegetation including old pasture, can also be found throughout the district Policy CO11 seeks to protect wildlife features outside of nature conservation designations for their intrinsic nature conservation importance or contribution to wider biodiversity objectives (through for example providing a link between different habitats). A number of the Structure Plan’s Environment Policies also deal with nature conservation issues.

POLICY CO8 The District Planning Authority will refuse planning permission for development which would significantly effect the integrity of internationally designated or potential sites, i.e. Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation or, Ramsar sites, unless:

i) the proposal is directly connected with or necessary to site management for nature conservation, or;

ii) there is no alternative solution and there are overriding public considerations.

Where development is permitted, impacts must be minimised and full compensation for remaining adverse effects provided. Where a site is host to a priority habitat and / or species, overriding considerations must be for reasons of human health or safety or, benefits of the proposal must be of primary importance to the environment.

POLICY CO9 The District Planning Authority will not permit development in or near Sites of Special Scientific Interest or the Dungeness National Nature Reserves, which would adversely affect their wildlife or scientific interest unless;

i. there is an exceptional need for the development which overrides the national or regional value of the designation and

ii. measures will be taken to minimise impacts and fully compensate for remaining adverse effects.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest shown on the Proposals Map:

- Dungeness
- Folkestone and Etchinghill escarpment
- Folkestone Warren
- Gibbons Brook, Sellindge
- Great Shuttlesfield Down
- Otterpool Quarry
- Alkham, Lydden and Swingfield woods
- Lympne Escarpment
- Romney Warren
- Seabrook Stream, Newington
- Walland Marsh
- Yockletts Bank, Elmsted
- Lynsore Bottom
- Cheyne Court
- Parkgate Down

POLICY CO10 The District Planning Authority will not permit development in or near Wildlife Sites or (proposed) Local Nature Reserves where such development would be detrimental to the nature conservation and / or scientific interest unless;

i. it can be shown that there is an exceptional need for the development which overrides the value of the local nature conservation resource and

ii. measures will be taken to minimise impacts and fully compensate for remaining adverse effects.

Wildlife Sites shown on the Proposals Map:

- Tolsford and Summerhouse Hills
- Pillars Wood, Paddlesworth
- Garden/Parsonage Wood, Acrise
- Acrise Wood & Park
- Reinden Wood, Densole
- Upper Petham Valley, Elmsted
- Harringe Brooks Wood, Sellindge
- Upper Lydden Valley, Swingfield
- Spong Wood/Edards Wood, Elmsted
- Postling Down
- Postling Wood
- Wood at Ridge Row, Acrise
- Chesterfield Wood, Sandling Park, Saltwood
- Stowting Rough & Stowting Hill Pasture
- Sibton Wood etc Rhodes Minnis, Lyminge
- Horton Wood etc Stowting
- Stony Lane Wood, Selsted
- Folks Wood Pedlinge
- Postling Wents Woods
- Lyminge Forest
- Combe Wood, Brabourne/Stowting
- Round Down & Round Down Wood, Stowting
- Greatstone Beach
- Denton Valley woods, Swingfield
- Royal Military Canal (water way only)
- Seabrook Stream and Paraker Wood
- Asholt Wood Pasture, Newington
- Stelling Minnis Common and Church Wood
- Saltwood Valley/Bargrove Wood etc
- Hythe Ranges
- Midley Chapel Pasture, Hawthorn Corner, Lydd
- Brockhill Country Park, Saltwood
- Pasture and Woods below Court at Street, Lympne
- Lydd Common and Pastures
- Baldock & Palmtree Downs, Wingmore, Elham
- Pastures, Ditches and Pond, Dymchurch
- Covert Wood and Pasture
- Hills Reservoir
- Covet Wood and Pasture, Kingston

POLICY CO11 The District Planning Authority will not give permission for development if it is likely to endanger plant or animal life (or its habitat) protected under law and/or identified as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species or cause the loss of, or damage to, habitats and landscape features of importance for nature conservation, unless;

i. there is a need for development which outweighs these nature conservation considerations and

ii. measures will be taken to minimise impacts and fully compensate for remaining adverse affects.

12.23 In assessing whether proposals are likely to endanger plant or animal life or cause loss of habitats which have importance for nature conservation the District Planning Authority will have regard to the views of English Nature and the Kent Wildlife Trust. Regard will also be had to the Kent Wildlife Habitat Survey (KWHS) and the effect of development on the objectives, targets and actions of the Kent Biodiversity Action Plan (KBAP) - see paragraph 12.24 below. A Survey may be required to accompany planning applications to establish the particular nature conservation value of proposed development sites.

12.24 The KWHS was first produced in 1994 to map and describe all habitats over one hectare in Kent, including those in Shepway District. The Kent County Council proposes to update the survey by 2003. The KBAP was published in November 1997 through a partnership of organisations and individuals with responsibility for nature conservation including government bodies, the County Council and district councils in Kent, wildlife organisations and, land owners and managers. The primary aim of the Plan is to facilitate conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Kent through the identification of a series of objectives, actions and future targets to be implemented by the members of the partnership.

12.25 Large development sites in particular sometimes include features of nature conservation interest such as ponds or wooded areas. Their nature conservation, recreational and educational value could be damaged if they were developed. The District Planning Authority will secure their retention (and provision of new features) through management agreements in connection with developments requiring planning permission.

12.26 Where necessary, conditions or planning obligations will be used to ensure that development protects and enhances important nature conservation sites, features and habitats, including appropriate provision for future management. In cases where development is exceptionally permitted which would harm nature conservation resources, in accordance with the principles expressed in Policy CO1, proposals should: firstly, minimise negative effects and; secondly, compensate for unavoidable remaining nature conservation impacts through habitat creation or enhancement either on site or in the local area. Compensatory measures should aim, where possible, to add to the overall quality of habitats in Shepway. This is best achieved through creating links between, and buffers around, existing habitats, particularly on land not currently of nature conservation interest. Policy LR9 of the Leisure and Recreation Chapter relates to the provision of new areas of open space through residential development. Where appropriate this will include the creation of wildlife areas such as green corridors.

POLICY CO12 The District Planning Authority will consider the use of conditions and/or seek to enter into planning obligations to ensure that development proposals protect and enhance important nature conservation resources, including provision for future management. In assessing proposals for development on sites of 0.5 hectares or more, the District Planning Authority will seek to retain features of nature conservation interest by establishing agreements between developers and appropriate conservation groups which could include the donation of land together with sufficient funds to ensure future management and creation of new features of nature conservation value.

12.27 The ground and surface water resources of the District are protected by policies in Chapter 9 on Utilities. There is also a need to conserve and enhance the freshwater environment, including watercourses and natural ponds, for its visual, nature conservation and recreational value. In assessing any proposals that would have an impact on the freshwater environment, the District Planning Authority will have regard to the views of the Environment Agency and English Nature.

POLICY CO13 Development proposals likely to have a harmful effect on the freshwater environment, including water courses, natural ponds, canals and sewers and adjoining banks, will only be permitted where harmful impact will be minimal, and where benefit in the form of increased access and / or water based recreation outweigh the negative effects. In such cases, measures should be taken to minimise impacts and fully compensate for remaining adverse effects.

12.28 The District Planning Authority supports positive countryside management and encourages initiatives such as the White Cliffs and Romney Marsh Countryside Projects that seek to care for and improve the nature conservation, recreational value and appearance of the District’s countryside.

12.29 The Authority can designate Local Nature Reserves (LNRs). This will provide a higher degree of protection from interference to sites of local significance for wildlife, provide a positive step towards maintaining and enhancing the nature conservation value of the area and, enable local communities to access, learn about and enjoy wildlife. The Council has already established part of Folkestone and East Cliff and Warren as a LNR. Where justified by reasons of special nature conservation interest, the Council will seek to declare further LNRs as opportunities arise, in consultation with English Nature and the local community. The following sites are proposed as Local Nature Reserves, shown on the Proposals Map and protected by Policy CO10:-

• New Romney Warren;
• Greatstone / Littlestone Beach;
• Paraker Wood;
• Royal Military Canal;
• Encombe Woods.

12.30 The Dungeness National Nature Reserve has been declared to promote its positive management for nature conservation by landowners, visitors and local residents. The coastal strip of the NNR between Greatstone and Lydd-on-Sea is largely in the ownership of the District Council.

12.31 The District Council will seek to establish Local Nature Reserves as suitable opportunities arise. Where appropriate, the Council will promote nature and landscape conservation and enhancement in the management of its own land by the production of management plans for important areas and it will also encourage other landowners to do the same. In (proposed) LNRs, the Dungeness NNR and other District Council-owned areas of land which hold special nature conservation interest, the primary purpose of land management will be nature conservation.

Rural lanes & roadside verges

12.32 The District possesses an extensive network of rural lanes, ranging from the open lanes of Romney Marsh with extensive views to the much more enclosed, heavily wooded lanes of the North Kent Downs. Rural lanes are valued for a number of reasons including their landscape, nature conservation, archaeological and historic interest and, their recreational use by walkers, cyclists and riders. The Kent Wildlife Trust has identified a number of roadside verges across Kent, including within Shepway, of nature conservation value – sites listed in Appendix 8.

12.33 The Kent County Council as local highway authority has substantial influence over the character and integrity of rural lanes and roadside verges, particularly through hedge and verge maintenance and highway upgrading and repair. In cases where the District Planning Authority has control over development, it will apply Kent Structure Plan Policy ENV13 (1996 Adopted Plan) to protect the character of important rural lanes. Local Plan Policy CO11 protects nature conservation features, which can include roadside verges. Adverse impacts on rural lanes and verges can arise from factors such as excessive traffic generation and incorporation of unsympathetic urban features (e.g. raised kerb edges and modern boundary enclosures in place of existing natural features).

Ministry of Defence land holdings

12.34 The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has considerable land holdings and interests within the Local Plan area, including the barracks and facilities at Shorncliffe, the Ranges complexes at Hythe and Lydd plus dry (i.e. not live firing) training areas north and west of Folkestone. In order to lessen its impact on local residents and to promote objectives relating to landscape amenity and the conservation of built heritage and wildlife, the MOD may seek to accommodate further training demands by expanding its overall acreage of training land. Training areas are managed by the MOD to maintain a balance between training needs and agriculture, forestry, and conservation interest and largely retain their value as open countryside. Public Rights Of Way will be respected and the MOD has introduced additional paths to facilitate circular or linked walks where appropriate. Any proposed further training areas should be contiguous with existing areas and should not compromise the amenity of existing residential properties or, the character, appearance or nature conservation value of the countryside. The MOD is reviewing its land holdings although it is not considered possible to identify sites for new training areas in the Plan, but any proposals will be considered on their merits in accordance with the above guidelines and relevant plan policies.


12.35 Dungeness’s unique landscape is internationally important for its physiography, flora and fauna. It consists of a series of shingle ridges interspersed with expanses of open water and marshland formed during a complex evolution. More than 40% of the UK’s stable and semi-vegetated shingle is located at Dungeness. It is the best British example of a cuspate foreland and home to the most diverse range of plants and animals of any British shingle beach. Habitat diversity and the geographical position makes it a first landfall for many incoming migratory birds and insects, and a concentration point for such migrants leaving the British Isles, creating features of importance for geomorphologists, botanists, ornithologists and entomologists.

12.36 The UK Government has ratified EC Directives on the conservation of Wild Birds and, Wildlife and Natural Habitats and is thereby committed to the establishment of the ‘Natura 2000 Series’, protecting areas of European importance for wildlife through the identification of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). The Government is also party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Significant areas of Dungeness are identified as a candidate SAC (the tidal areas of which are identified as a European Marine site), SPA, Ramsar site and National Nature Reserve. The District Planning Authority recognises the major importance of Dungeness and the need for protection through positive management and control of development.

POLICY CO14 The District Planning Authority will give long term protection to Dungeness by giving priority to considerations related to its international importance for physiography, flora and fauna over other planning considerations.


12.37 The District Planning Authority recognises the importance of a viable agricultural industry to the maintenance of the quality and appearance of the countryside and for its contribution to the district’s economy. Agriculture is the dominant land use in the countryside and is significantly supported and regulated by the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Recent reforms to CAP have been agreed under Agenda 2000 in an effort to reduce problems associated with inequitable quotas, production restrictions and subsidy uncertainties and to take a more holistic view of the wider rural economy, social and environmental issues. The Rural White Paper, ‘Our Countryside: the Future’, published in November 2000, highlights the Government’s intention to seek further CAP reform so that agricultural production can better adapt to an increasingly competitive world market and at the same time follow practices which conserve and enhance landscape and wildlife.

12.38 The number of people employed in agriculture has been steadily declining over recent years as have farm incomes, which has led to increased diversification in order to maintain incomes and employment. Agricultural practices such as types of crops grown can have a significant influence on the appearance of the landscape but are exempt from planning control. The District Planning Authority can control such matters as farm buildings, agricultural workers dwellings and changes of use.

12.39 Protection of the best and most versatile agricultural land – Government policy gives considerable weight to protecting the best and most versatile agricultural land, graded 1, 2 or 3a in accordance with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs system of land classification. This land provides a national resource for the future, best able to adapt to the changing needs of agriculture, and therefore should be protected from irreversible development. In Shepway there is a significant amount of agricultural land of the best and most versatile quality and considerable weight will be given to protecting it against development. Poorer quality agricultural land should be used before that of higher quality except where other sustainability considerations, such as nature conservation, heritage, accessibility and other countryside interests are of sufficient importance to override this approach. Structure Plan Policy ED6 supports the need to protect high quality land as well as other productive agricultural land.

POLICY CO15 Development which would result in the irreversible loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land (DEFRA Grades 1, 2 and 3a) will only be permitted where there is an overriding need and no suitable alternative site is available. Where development is necessary it should use, as far as possible, the lowest grade of land suitable for the development unless other sustainability considerations indicate otherwise.

12.40 Agricultural diversification – The Government encourages diversification of the rural economy through the development of new farm enterprises to sustain and develop farm businesses, thereby supplementing farmers’ incomes and providing new and more varied employment opportunities for local people to replace jobs lost through structural changes to the agricultural industry. Initiatives have been introduced to encourage countryside enhancement (Countryside Stewardship and Organic Farming Schemes, and Environmentally Sensitive Areas); and to encourage additional sources of income for farm enterprises (Redundant Building Grant and Rural Enterprise Schemes). Examples of appropriate Farm diversification initiatives are contained in PPG7. These can include packing and processing of farm produce, farm shops, craft workshops, sporting facilities and holiday accommodation. Diversification proposals will generally be acceptable providing that there will be no detrimental impact on the character, appearance and nature conservation value of the countryside, particularly in areas of high landscape value. Proposals for the re-use and adaptation of rural buildings involving uses beyond those specifically related to farm diversification will be considered against Policy CO19.

POLICY CO16 Planning permission will be granted for the diversification of farm businesses subject to all of the following criteria being met:-

a) The proposal is compatible with surrounding buildings and the location in a rural area in terms of scale and design;

b) There would be no detrimental impact on local amenity or the character, appearance or nature conservation value of the rural landscape. This criterion will be given additional weight in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Special Landscape Areas and nature conservation designations;

c) Adequate provision can be made to meet access, servicing and parking requirements;

d) The proposal would not prejudice the agricultural working of the farm unit;

e) Where practicable, the proposal re-uses an existing agricultural building.

12.41 Agricultural workers’ dwellings – Kent Structure Plan Policies seek to restrict development in the countryside in order to prevent the erosion of rural character by sporadic development. It is necessary within these policies to allow for development that is essential to the rural economy. Agricultural workers’ dwellings can fall into this category. If the policy for rural areas is to remain effective, the number of exceptions must be limited to those for which an overriding need can be demonstrated and for which no satisfactory alternative means of provision is available. PPG 7 contains detailed advice on the special considerations that may arise in relation to agricultural and forestry dwellings.

POLICY CO17 Planning applications for new agricultural workers’ dwellings in the countryside will only be permitted where all of the following criteria can be met:-

a. Development is essential for the proper functioning of the holding or enterprise i.e. there is a genuine need to provide accommodation for a full-time worker or one primarily employed in agriculture who is required to be readily available at short notice, most of the time;

b. There is insufficient existing accommodation available on the holding or nearby to meet the functional needs of the enterprise;

c. The proposal relates to an existing economically viable farm holding or in the case of a new enterprise, the applicant can demonstrate a clear prospect that the enterprise will be commercially successful;

d. The most suitable site within the farm should be selected and this should be close to existing farm buildings to form part of a group and make use of the natural features to minimise impact upon the surroundings. The housing should be appropriate in size to suit the identified requirement of the particular holding.

In all cases a condition will be attached to permission limiting the occupancy to a person solely or mainly employed, or last employed locally in agriculture or forestry or to resident partners or dependants.

12.42 Each case will be considered on its merits and the particular circumstances. The District Planning Authority will however give particularly close scrutiny to applications where farm dwellings not covered by an occupancy condition have been sold or let to persons not involved in the working of the farm, since this could indicate a lack of agricultural need. In cases where existing dwellings on the holding are within the control of the applicant and do not have occupancy conditions, but need at the time of the application to be used in connection with the farm, an occupancy condition will normally be imposed on such dwellings. This will prevent them from being sold away from the farm or agriculture. The use of planning obligations will also be considered to control the future sale of agricultural dwellings away from a farm unit or land. These measures will provide a safeguard against future demands for additional agricultural workers’ dwellings on the holding or to meet the needs of the locality, protecting the countryside from avoidable pressure for new housing.

12.43 Agricultural buildings – In recognition of the need to ensure an efficient and flexible agricultural industry, part 6 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, grants permitted development rights for a variety of agricultural buildings and operations. Modern farming techniques have however resulted in a trend towards larger processing and storage buildings. These buildings can dominate the rural landscape and special consideration needs to be given to their siting, design, appearance and use. In some cases the District Planning Authority’s prior approval may be required for development normally allowed under permitted development rights. In these cases the principle of development is not for consideration, only where matters of siting, design, external appearance and the buildings relationship to its surroundings need to be assessed will the District Planning Authority require the submission of details. Guidance on the operation of these controls is contained within PPG7 Annex E. Developers are required to inform the District Planning Authority in advance of carrying out these works. In instances where planning permission is required for agricultural development the District Planning Authority will apply the following policy:-

POLICY CO18 The District Planning Authority will permit new agricultural buildings and extensions or alterations to existing agricultural buildings where the proposals meet the following criteria:-

a) The development is necessary for the purposes of agriculture and the operational needs of the agricultural unit;

b) The siting, scale, materials and colour are in keeping with the surroundings and, as far as possible, the new buildings would be integrated within existing groups, make use of natural screening, minimise the impact on the skyline, and blend with any neighbouring buildings;

12.44 The District Planning Authority will consider preparing Supplementary Planning Guidance to provide advice on the siting, design and external appearance of farm buildings. This guidance will be developed in consultation with appropriate bodies representing agricultural, countryside and design interests.

Re-use and adaptation of rural buildings

12.45 Opportunities often exist for the re-use or adaptation of rural buildings such as barns and stables for new commercial, industrial, recreational or tourism related uses. Such conversion can prevent buildings falling into disrepair, reduce pressure for greenfield development and create new employment opportunities in rural areas. Provided that such uses are in keeping with their surroundings in terms of their form, bulk and general design and provided that they do not generate unacceptable objections on, for example, environmental or traffic grounds, they will normally be acceptable. Where physical alterations are involved, they should generally respect local building styles and materials. Conversion to residential use may also be acceptable where a business reuse would not be viable or suitable.

POLICY CO19 Planning applications for the re-use or adaptation of rural buildings to alternative uses will be approved where proposals would meet the following criteria:

a) The building is of permanent and substantial construction, is of a form, bulk and general design which is in keeping with its surroundings and, is capable of conversion without substantial rebuilding;

b) The proposed conversion is sympathetic to the building’s intrinsic character, appearance and setting and is capable of being implemented without significant extensions or alterations to the existing building;

c) Development would not prejudice the agricultural working of a farm unit or the vitality and functioning of nearby rural towns and villages;

d) Adequate provision can be made to meet access, servicing and parking requirements without detriment to the visual or other amenities in the locality;

e) Where a rural building can accommodate a business reuse in accordance with criteria a-d above, proposals for conversion to a residential use which is not ancillary to a scheme for business reuse will require to be justified by the applicant through a statement detailing the efforts made to secure a business reuse in the first instance;

In cases where an application is submitted for the reuse of a building which the District Planning Authority considers has a significant adverse effect on the landscape, conditions may be attached to permissions to secure improvements in the external appearance of the building in order to make its reuse acceptable in terms of visual amenity.

Replacement dwellings and extensions to dwellings in the countryside

12.46 Replacement dwellings and extensions to existing houses beyond the thresholds set out in Part 1 of the GPDO require planning permission. Within the countryside, such development can provide improved rural housing opportunities and promote more diverse rural communities. Conversely, if development results in a significantly larger dwelling than the original, it can reduce the availability of affordable housing for local people and create adverse landscape impacts.

12.47 Policy RS5 of the adopted 1996 Kent Structure Plan seeks to control sporadic development in the countryside, including inappropriate extensions to and rebuilding of existing residential dwellings. Policies CO20 and CO21 below provide detailed guidance against which proposals for replacement dwellings and dwelling extension / alteration in the countryside will be assessed. Both policies seek to ensure that development is sympathetic to its surroundings. The scale of a replacement or extended dwelling that will be appropriate will therefore be significantly influenced by the nature of its context. Matters to be taken into account will include the landscape setting, the character of the surrounding area and the scale and mass of the existing building to be extended or replaced. Proposals contrary to the provisions of Policies CO20 and CO21 will not normally be permitted although consideration will be given to any special needs of the occupant and the benefits of a proposal in terms of addressing current inadequacies in the standard of accommodation and providing a development which is more in keeping with the locality than the existing building.

12.48 Replacement dwellings – Policy CO20 applies to lawful residential uses. The replacement of a dwelling in the countryside also raises sustainability issues. The construction of a new dwelling may result in a more energy efficient unit but demolition of the existing dwelling places demands on land fill and the construction of a new dwelling requires the use of energy and non renewable resources. In implementing Policy CO20 the Local Planning Authority will consider whether the existing dwelling could reasonably be adapted or extended.

POLICY CO20 The District Planning Authority will grant planning permission for a replacement dwelling in the countryside subject to proposals meeting all of the following criteria:

a) the dwelling to be replaced is in a lawful residential use;

b) development is of a high standard of design and in keeping with the character of the locality and would not damage the quality of the landscape;

c) the replacement dwelling is not significantly more intrusive in the landscape than the one it is replacing and in the case of small dwellings, the replacement would also not be substantially larger in size and massing

d) the existing dwelling cannot practicably be adapted or extended, in accordance with Policy CO21.
Where the siting of a replacement dwelling does not directly result in the demolition of the existing dwelling, a condition may be attached to a permission to require demolition on completion of the new dwelling.

12.49 Dwelling extension and alteration – Policy BE7 in the Built Environment Chapter sets out the design and other considerations against which alterations and extensions to existing buildings will be assessed. Policy CO21 supplements these provisions in the specific context of dwelling extensions / alterations in the countryside. This Policy relates largely to built development although criteria d. also applies to proposals to extend residential curtilages within the countryside. Curtilage extensions will be considered in terms of landscape affects in particular. This includes impacts of associated garden paraphernalia that could be provided under Part 1 of the GPDO such as washing lines, hard surfacing, minor buildings etc.

POLICY CO21 The District Planning Authority will grant planning permission for an extension or alteration to an existing dwelling in the countryside subject to proposals meeting all of the following criteria:

a) the dwelling to be extended or altered is in a lawful residential use;

b) the proposal is acceptable within the terms of Policy BE8;

c) the proposal would not visually dominate or substantially alter the character of the existing dwelling;

d) development would not adversely impact on the quality and character of the landscape or be detrimental to the rural setting.

Horse keeping

12.50 The use of land for horse grazing is regarded as agriculture under the Planning Act and thus outside of planning control. If, however the horse is merely being kept on the land and fed wholly or primarily by other means, then planning permission is required. Buildings that house horses used specifically for farming enjoy permitted development rights. Stables or loose boxes for horses kept as pets sited within the curtilage of a dwelling are also permitted development under Part 1 of the GPDO. In other cases, stables and other structures or facilities require planning permission.

12.51 The breeding and keeping of horses for commercial and recreational purposes can provide benefits in terms of increased rural employment and extra income for farmers. An over-intensive use of the land for horse riding, jumping or keeping will however also lead to impoverishment and consequent erosion of soil and vegetation and detract from visual amenity. Guidance on development involving horses is contained within Annex F of PPG7. The District Planning Authority will consider producing supplementary planning guidance on horse keeping.

12.52 Each case will be considered on its own merits although the following considerations will be taken into account where relevant:-
a) Wherever practicable existing buildings should be re-used, incorporating existing stables and related buildings into existing groups of rural buildings and locating new buildings so that natural or other existing features in the landscape screen them.
b) Individual stables should not be larger in floor area than 3.65m x 3.65m and not exceed 3.4m in height. Proposals should be well located to the existing bridleway network.

12.53 New buildings should be constructed of timber and stained or painted in a manner that would minimise their impact on the landscape. Other materials such as brickwork and tiles may also be appropriate where this ensures that development blends with the landscape and existing neighbouring buildings.

POLICY CO22 Planning applications for development related to horse keeping will be permitted where proposals meet the following criteria:-

a. There would be no detrimental impact on the character or appearance of the rural landscape, especially within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Special Landscape Areas;

b. The scale and design of the development is appropriate to the character of the locality;

c. Adequate provision can be made to meet access, servicing and parking requirements without detriment to the visual and other amenities of the locality and it will not generate traffic of a volume and type inappropriate to the locality;

d. Applicants can demonstrate that sufficient land is available for grazing and exercise to ensure the safety and comfort of horses and avoid excessive erosion of soil and vegetation;

e. Development does not unacceptably affect local amenity by virtue of smell, noise or lighting;

f. Any jumps or other related equipment should be well designed and maintained and, removed when not in frequent use.

Planning permission granted for buildings related to horse keeping activities will be subject to a condition that buildings are removed when the use of the land for horse keeping finishes.

g. Suitable provision can be made to deal with foul and surface water drainage and soiled bedding materials.

Farm shops

12.54 Retail uses should generally be well related to the residential areas that they serve and are normally considered to be an urban or village use. The creation of new retail outlets in the countryside is therefore generally discouraged. Increasingly however, farmers have been diversifying and setting up farm shops to take advantage of passing trade and demands for local produce which can improve the viability of individual farm units and diversity of the rural economy generally through providing new jobs and services.

12.55 Farm shops which sell unprocessed farm products from an existing building on the farm from which they originated are normally considered to be incidental to the main use and do not require specific planning permission. Permission is however required for a new building from which to sell such products. Shops on farms that sell produce bought from wholesalers or neighbouring farm units also need permission and can result in a commercial operation inappropriate to the rural area. Retail uses selling farm produce will be appropriate in an acceptable scheme of farm diversification and where it can be shown that the shop would not impact on nearby shopping facilities.

POLICY CO23 The District Planning Authority will only grant planning permission for a retail use on a farm where:-

a. The retailing proposed relates to the sale of farm produce and would not harm the viability of retail facilities in nearby rural towns and villages;

b. The proposal is acceptable as part of farm diversification within the terms of Policy CO16.
In considering proposals, a condition may be attached to planning permission to limit the range and / or source of goods sold.

Strategic landscaping at key development opportunities

12.56 Appropriate landscaping of development can provide a range of benefits through helping create a high quality development scheme, minimise landscape and other environmental impacts such as noise and, provide new and enhance wildlife habitats.

12.57 Around boundaries of the district’s key development opportunities identified at Hawkinge, Biggins Wood Shearway Business Park, Folkestone, Link Park, Lympne and Nickolls Quarry, Hythe, strategic landscape areas are shown on the proposals map and in associated Development Briefs, where these have been prepared. Appropriate structural landscaping and retention of important existing landscape features will be required in these areas.

POLICY CO24 The District Planning Authority will protect the strategic landscape areas shown indicatively on the proposals map. Whilst development will not be permitted within these areas, their precise nature and extent will be determined in the context of detailed landscaping proposals for the key development opportunities to which they relate. If necessary, the District Planning Authority will seek to ensure that developers of adjoining land enter into obligations under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to secure their retention and enhancement, the protection of existing landscape features and future management of the strategic landscape areas.

Common lands and village greens

12.58 The District’s Commons and Greens are a precious part of Shepway’s landscape and history serving as recreational, wildlife and educational resources in addition to their traditional roles such as grazing lands. The District Planning Authority will protect greens and common lands from inappropriate development. Where resources permit and where appropriate the District Planning Authority will also participate in positive management schemes to conserve and enhance common lands and village greens and, improve access to ensure their viability as historic landscapes, wildlife habitats and recreational resources.

POLICY CO25 Proposals which would result in a loss of any part of registered Common Lands and Village Greens, as shown on the Proposals Map will not be permitted unless development is the best means of maintaining or enhancing their historic, wildlife or recreational value.


12.59 (See Chapter 8 Built Environment).


12.60 Kent County Council is the Authority responsible for the control of mineral workings. In amplification of relevant Structure Plan policies it has produced a Minerals Local Plan for Kent covering Brickearth, Construction Aggregates and, Chalk and Clay/Oil and Gas. This has been prepared and adopted in stages. The Kent County Council intends to replace these Plans with a Minerals Development Framework.

12.61 Due to underlying geology, certain parts of the District are a potentially significant sand and gravel resource. As such, the adopted Construction Aggregates Plan identifies Areas of Search for gravel and sands in the Dungeness/Lydd areas and at West Hythe. Areas of search identify locations where minerals are thought to exist and where, subject to planning considerations, extraction might take place. The Construction Aggregates Plan also states that the District Planning Authority will be consulted on restoration and after use proposals. In responding to consultations from the Mineral’s Planning Authority, the District Council will have particular regard to the provisions of the Development Plan and to any representations received. This will include ensuring that satisfactory restoration schemes form an integral part of extraction proposals. Such restoration schemes should identify the most appropriate after-use and provide for the return of land to this after-use to the highest possible standard and as soon as possible.

12.62 In respect of land east and west of Lydd, the Construction Aggregates Plan makes provision for the protection of nature conservation interests, the restoration of new workings to agriculture within a short time scale (creation of new bodies of water not being an acceptable after use), consideration of airport safety, and protection of the aquifer. With regard to the area of search identified at West Hythe the Plan emphasises the need to take into account the setting of the Dymchurch Redoubt.

12.63 Adjoining the area of search at West Hythe, on the eastern side of Botolphs Bridge Road is Nickolls Quarry, which is allocated under Policy HO2 in the Housing Chapter as a comprehensive redevelopment opportunity including housing, employment and open space, based around water areas created through mineral extraction. A substantial landscape buffer along the Botolphs Bridge Road site boundary is identified. This will help to ensure that the development of Nickolls Quarry and the potential for extraction within the identified Area of Search is not compromised. The District Planning Authority will also seek to negotiate with the KCC to seek to ensure appropriate controls on any mineral development so that the proposed redevelopment of Nickolls Quarry is not unnecessarily prejudiced.

New business development in the countryside

12.64 It is an objective of the District Council to encourage appropriate employment opportunities in rural Shepway. Structure Plan Policy RS4 (1996 Adopted Plan) permits suitable new businesses in rural Kent within or adjoining villages and rural towns including the development of small scale businesses as well as other businesses where justified by local employment needs or where requiring a rural location. Local Plan Policy E6 in the Employment Chapter elaborates upon these Structure Plan provisions. Other Countryside and Tourism policies which encourage the re-use and adaptation of existing rural buildings, promote agricultural diversification and allow small scale tourist accommodation can also create new job opportunities in rural parts of the district.

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