Employment and Local Economy Policies

Our preferred policy approach to employment and the local economy in the District over the Plan period, and the justification for this, is set out below:

Strategic Policy 8: Economic Growth

Economic Growth Strategy

Government guidance requires local authorities to plan proactively to meet the needs of business and support a successful local economy. In order to deliver a step change in economic growth in the District the Council has produced an Economic Development Strategy, which establishes the Council's aspirations and vision for economic growth both in overall terms, and through specific opportunities that exist in the District.

The strategy identifies the following key themes and objectives, which inform proposals set out in this Local Plan.

1. Creating economic value:

a. To develop an attractive, broad based economic identity for the District, capitalising on its economic advantages and its connections to London and international gateways.

b. By 2040 the District will be positioned as a highly desirable and attractive location to do business and for inward investment.

c. By 2040 the District will be the first choice of location for industries in relation to life sciences, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and logistics.

d. Dover will be a key business destination in Kent with first class facilities for start ups, enterprise growth and innovation.

2. Delivering infrastructure for business needs

a. By 2040, Dover will have a portfolio of employment space to meet modern business needs, including development sites able to accommodate growth and inward investment opportunities.

b. Increase investment in skills and training to promote the District’s human capital, helping to retain young people and increase opportunities for all communities.

c. All of Dover’s businesses and residents will be able to benefit from the advantages of easy, quick and reliable digital connections through new investment in infrastructure.

3. Revitalising our town centres

a. All of the District’s town centres will offer a more diverse retail and leisure offer, excellent public realm, high quality town centre living and a thriving evening economy.

b. Dover Town Centre will develop a new role as a hub for start up and scale up enterprises through the provision of new workspace concepts.

c. The town centres will play a key role as part of White Cliffs Country in being hubs for an expanded visitor economy and cultural offer that can support richer experiences for residents and visitors alike.

4. Growing the visitor economy

a. Encourage investment in the tourism industry.

b. Attract new providers and increase the number of visitors coming to the district.

c. Encourage visitors to invest their time, stay longer and to spend more when they are here.

d. Encourage residents and visitors to help us spread the word about the District’s range of visitor experiences.

5. Supporting the rural economy

a. Support opportunities across Dover’s rural area and villages to promote diversification, sustainable development and economic growth.

b. Promote the role of key sectors and employment sites within the rural economy, and the development of new workspace hubs to complement housing growth across the network of settlements.

c. Secure investment to ensure the rural area has access to good quality, resilient infrastructure that facilitates sustainable travel choices and promotes the green economy.

This provides the opportunity to promote a stronger economic narrative and Plan, and make the case for further investment and funding to unlock key sites and guide future development in the District, particularly in the absence of a strong 'quantitative case'.

Other issues beyond employment are also relevant within the context of developing a new Local Plan that facilitates economic growth in Dover, for example wider ‘place making’ priorities; creating attractive places to live and work through revitalising the existing built environment and creating new spaces; town centre regeneration; and infrastructure provision. These issues are covered in other sections of the Plan, but should be considered as part of this strategy.

As stated above, until the Economic Development Needs Assessment is updated, it is not possible to set out a specific jobs target or the amount of land that is to be allocated . This evidence will be updated to inform the Regulation 19 version of the Plan. This policy will set out a target for future job growth in the District, and identify the amount and type of land that is to be allocated within the Local Plan in order to support the delivery of the economic strategy.

Strategic Policy 8: Economic Growth

The Council will support proposals which deliver economic prosperity, jobs growth, tourism and inward investment and contribute to the delivery of economic growth in the District.

A higher level of jobs growth will be planned for, and land will be allocated to fully meet the needs that are identified.

Strategic Policy 9: Employment Allocations

Strategic Employment Allocations

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that local planning authorities set out a clear economic vision and strategy for their area which positively and proactively encourages sustainable growth, identify strategic sites to meet anticipated needs over the plan period, support existing business sectors and plan for new and emerging sectors. It also requires flexibility and states that the long term protection of sites with little chance of being used for employment purposes should be avoided.

A key delivery mechanism for economic growth within the district is through strategic site allocations and the ability to maximise employment opportunities and potential within the prime sites, where there is existing or future land suitable for employment development. An Employment Land Review of the existing employment sites within the district has been carried out in order to take stock of the types and amount of employment sites within the district. The full extent of the land available within the plan period is not yet finalised and further work is required to determine this in conjunction with the economic needs and growth for the district.

A further call for sites in order to identify additional employment land at the Regulation 18 consultation is being carried out to ensure sufficient land is available within the plan period to meet the economic growth aspirations.

The following sites are currently proposed to be allocated for employment development:

Whitecliffs Business Park

Located at Whitfield with excellent transport links to the A2, this site has been carried forward as a previous allocation. The site will have links to Dover Town centre through the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, creating improved links and connections. Retail development has started to erode the longer term employment potential of parts of the site. Phase I is largely complete and Phase II has outline planning consent and there are potential commitments for Phase III which have not yet reached the planning stages. It is unclear how much of this site will be available for additional employment purposes.

Aylesham Development Area

This site is situated to the south of the Aylesham Conference and Training Centre to the south east of the existing settlement. The site is situated within good proximity to the local centre and community facilities. The site is constrained in terms of access and is situated away from existing industrial uses within Aylesham. There is the potential for this site to come forward in conjunction with additional homes in Aylesham to create sustainable employment opportunities.

Sandwich Industrial Estate

Located to the northeast of Sandwich Town, the site has good access to the strategic road network, but there are site constraints with the industrial estate situated within the flood risk zone and in close proximity to the area of ecological interest. There is potential for further development of employment uses at the site. Improved connectivity with Sandwich would make the site more accessible.

Discovery Park

Discovery Park Enterprise Zone, formerly Pfizer’s Research and Development facility, at Sandwich has an established employment function. The site benefits from good access to the strategic road network and Manston Airport. It is the largest employment site in the District and comprises around 280,000sqm of high quality research and development buildings, offices and ancillary facilities set within a landscaped campus. The site has been an Enterprise Zone since 2011 following the Local Development Order (LDO) which removes the need to make planning applications for some types of development on the site in order to encourage start up businesses and investors. It provides a clear framework for business development making it easier to achieve economic growth. It is likely that additional land will be required within the plan period to accommodate further expansion outside of the existing site boundary.

Ramsgate Road, Sandwich

A sprawling industrial area which borders the A256 and the River Stour extending from the Former Richborough Power Site to the north of Discovery Park. The existing employment uses along this area benefit from good access to the strategic road network and Manston Airport. There are a number of site constraints on parts of this area to include flood risk and the adjacent sensitive ecological protection area, but it is considered there is the potential for further intensification of uses to capitalise on the location and accessibility. The site could be better connected with Discovery Park and there is scope for an intensification of employment uses in order to fully utilise the land available and improve the overall quality of the employment opportunities on offer at the site.

Dover Waterfront

Dover Waterfront is centred on Wellington Dock in Dover's Western Docks. The Docks are owned by Dover Harbour Board and are currently subject to a multi million pound regeneration project (Dover Western Docks Revival Project) to transform the seafront and deliver a new marina, cruise ship terminal, cargo terminal and distribution centre. Work on this project is on-going.

Dover Waterfront occupies a key location in Dover and covers an area of approximately 11 hectares. The site consists of Wellington Dock, the former De Bradelei Wharf shopping centre, the seafront including existing buildings which are listed and within a conservation area, the Camden Crescent car park and public garden, the promenade and beach. The majority of the site is owned by Dover Harbour Board, apart from the Camden Crescent car park area, which is in the Council's ownership.

The site is separated from the Town Centre by the A20, which acts as a major barrier to movement between these two areas. A key element of the strategy for Dover Town is therefore to improve the connectivity of the town centre with the seafront and this will be facilitated through a variety of projects, including the development of Dover Waterfront.

The site's location offers a unique opportunity to create a mixed waterfront development at Dover of sufficient scale, quality and substance to become a major attraction and modern day symbol for Dover. This will help to generate jobs and capture visitor expenditure, thereby increasing the centre’s overall market share. Creating a complementary offer between the town centre and Waterfront area will further enhance visitation, footfall and linkages between the two locations, subject to the provision of attractive, convenient and safe pedestrian routes. It also provides the Council with a focus to help reposition and proactively promote the town centre and direct the flow of visitors from Kent and especially the Port area.

The following policy identifies Dover's employment allocations, where new employment generating development of employment uses will be promoted and supported. These sites are shown on the policies map.

Strategic Policy 9: Employment Allocations

The following sites are allocated for business and employment purposes:

  • Whitecliffs Business Park, Whitfield
  • Aylesham Development Area, Aylesham
  • Sandwich Industrial Estate, Sandwich*
  • Discovery Park, Sandwich
  • Ramsgate Road, Sandwich
  • Dover Waterfront*

In order to achieve the economic growth aspirations for the district, uses will be restricted at the allocated employment sites to employment uses (Use Classes E - Office, B2 and B8), and not including main town centre uses as defined in the National Planning Policy framework.

*These are flexible employment sites, where wider employment generating uses will be allowed in addition to Classes E - Office, B2 and B8 uses. Development must be compatible with neighbouring uses. Proposals for main town centre uses should also comply with the sequential test policy where necessary.

DM Policy 18: New Employment Development

New Employment Development

Delivering new employment development requires a combination of both the identification of specific allocated sites, as well as a criteria based policy. We would expect new employment development to be concentrated within existing employment areas, to include existing industrial estates and the town centres, and on allocated employment sites. By supporting the development of existing employment sites, we can enable businesses to adapt to changing conditions and retain local job opportunities. New employment development opportunities may come forward outside of the existing or allocated employment sites. Proposals would need to be situated in locations which provide suitable access to the local road network, and which can also be accessed by a range of means of transport, create additional employment and would not have any other adverse impacts.

We want to enable businesses to be able to adapt to market changes and encourage creativity and diversity across all sectors. We also expect new development to adhere to our climate change agenda.

New employment development should be provided at a scale that is appropriate to the existing settlement, without detriment to its amenity, character or setting.

We want to continue to improve the prosperity of the rural economy within the District. The NPPF indicates that Plans should support the sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business and enterprise in rural areas. It is desirable to enable jobs to be provided locally to cater for the needs of residents in the rural areas and to avoid unsustainable patterns of commuting.

There are a number of industrial parks in rural locations and we will look to protect employment land, whilst allowing for changing business needs.

Proposals for extensions to existing employment premises in the countryside will particularly need to demonstrate that they would not have a detrimental impact on the character of the landscape.

It is important that the rural road network that supports any new development is suitable for the scale and type of vehicle movements associated with new employment proposals. Proposals will be considered within the following policy parameters.

DM Policy 18: New Employment Development

Provision of new employment premises, and the redevelopment, extension, enhancement and reconfiguration of existing employment premises will be permitted on existing employment sites, employment allocations set out in Strategic Policy 9, and areas within or immediately adjoining the settlement boundaries of designated settlements identified in Strategic Policy 3 (residential windfall development), provided that:

1. It is compatible with the layout, density, fabric and appearance of the existing settlement and surrounding area;

2. The level and type of activity the proposal generates and the functional and visual relationship it has with adjoining uses would not result in harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding area;

3. It would not result in harm to or the loss of important green spaces within the confines that contribute positively to the existing character of that settlement;

4. It would not result in significant harm to heritage assets, landscape character or biodiversity;

5. It would not have a significant adverse impact on the living conditions of existing adjoining residents;

6. Appropriate provision can be made for parking and access;

7. It is demonstrated that traffic generated from the development can be safely accommodated on the local road network, and the development will not generate a type or amount of traffic that would be inappropriate to the rural road network.

DM Policy 19 & 20: Existing Employment Sites and Premises

Loss or redevelopment of employment sites and premises

We need to protect the most sustainable employment sites in order to ensure sufficient land is retained to meet our employment needs and allow for future change and growth of existing businesses.

The sites to be retained have been identified through an Employment Land Review of all the suitable employment sites within the district. Uses falling within Use Classes E - Office, B2 and B8 will be supported at these sites where they will not be significantly harmful to the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers of land or buildings. Some of the sites to be retained have been identified as flexible employment sites, where wider employment generating uses will be allowed in addition to class E - office, B2 and B8 uses. Development must still be compatible with neighbouring uses. Proposals for main town centre uses should also comply with the sequential test policy where necessary. Flexible uses include leisure, tourism and other town centre uses which, due to scale and format cannot be accommodated within town centres. They also include sui generis uses which do not fall into a category in the Use Classes Order.

It is desirable to enable jobs to be provided locally to cater for the needs of residents in the rural areas and to avoid unsustainable patterns of commuting. Proposals for the loss of existing employment sites as identified in the list of employment sites to be retained or adjoining the more sustainable rural settlements will not be supported.

When considering an application for the loss of an employment site, an assessment will need to be made as to the viability of the existing use or an alternative employment use. In order to demonstrate that a site is no longer viable for an employment use, the applicant must provide robust evidence that the premises have been marketed unsuccessfully for both the existing use and any alternative suitable employment use for a period of at least 12 months on terms that should compare with other similar premises and locations being sold or let for employment purposes. The extent of any marketing carried out and the prevailing market conditions will also be material considerations in the Council's assessment of viability evidence. Marketing should also extend to the potential use for other suitable employment generating uses for which the particular location and premises may be suitable.

DM Policy 19: Retention of Existing Employment Sites

The following sites will be retained as employment sites and the Council will support uses falling within Use Classes B2 and B8 and use class E - office, where they would not harm the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers of land or buildings:

  • Ramsgate Road, Sandwich
  • Discovery Park Enterprise Zone, Sandwich
  • Sandwich Road Industrial Estate*
  • Pike Road Industrial Estate, Eythorne
  • White Cliffs Business Park, Whitfield
  • Barwick Road Industrial Estate, Dover
  • Deal Business Park
  • The Worth Centre, Worth
  • A20 Sites
  • Aylesham Industrial Estate
  • Port Zone*

*These are flexible employment sites, where wider employment generating uses will be allowed in addition Classes E - Office, B2 and B8 uses. Development must be compatible with neighbouring uses. Proposals for main town centre uses should also comply with the sequential test policy where necessary.

DM Policy 20: Loss or redevelopment of employment sites and premises

Proposals for alternative uses on the employment sites to be retained, and other buildings and land currently used for employment within the district will only be permitted where:

a. It has been demonstrated that the site is no longer suitable or viable for employment purposes following an active and exhaustive marketing process for a minimum of 12 months;

b. The proposal would not undermine economic growth and employment opportunities in the area;

c. The proposal would not result in a significant, or harmful reduction in the supply of land available for employment purposes for the remainder of the plan period, having regard to the type of employment land proposed for reuse and its location;

d. The proposal would not prejudice the ongoing operation of remaining businesses nearby;

e. The proposal would result in a good standard of amenity for existing and future occupants.

DM Policy 21: Home Working

Home Working

The level of home working is increasing. As well as allowing more flexibility for the work force and businesses within the district, there are also benefits for the co-location of home and work with reduced car use, which can help to contribute to our climate change agenda.

Flexible office space (workhubs) with professional equipment and meeting space that can be hired and used in an ad hoc manner by home based workers can also support home working. It is considered that these facilities can be accommodated on identified business parks or in the town centres.

Some small scale home working may not require planning permission. However, where home- working does require planning permission, consideration should be given to the impacts upon the neighbourhood, including for example traffic, noise and disturbance and any impact on character and appearance issues which may be applicable.

DM Policy 21: Home Working

Proposals for the establishment of a business operating from a residential property will be permitted, provided that it can be demonstrated that the proposed use would not result in:

a. Detrimental impacts on residential amenity by reason of dust, noise, light, smell, fumes or other emissions;

b. Additional traffic flows or vehicle parking in the vicinity, at a level that would be harmful to residential amenity or highway safety; or

c. The erosion of the residential character of the area.

DM Policy 22: Conversion or Rebuild of Rural Buildings

The Rural Economy

The Council wishes to support a sustainable rural economy and rural economic development of an appropriate scale. Sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments that benefit businesses in the rural area and promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities will be supported.

There is demand for rural employment space in the Dover District (EDNA, 2017) with continued growth of this type of premises considered inevitable to meet the needs of the local rural business market. These premises can also play an important role in providing affordable workspace and retaining home based businesses within the local community.

The NPPF supports the conversion of rural buildings to support sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business and enterprise in rural areas. Some agricultural and other rural buildings may no longer be suitable for their original purpose and their reuse can provide a useful and viable means of enabling the local rural economy to evolve and diversify without requiring new buildings to be developed in sensitive rural locations.

Conversions of rural buildings might be particularly desirable where buildings are listed, or have other landscape value, and their long-term retention may be sought for these reasons.

It is acknowledged that through permitted development rights, in some cases the change of use of agricultural buildings does not require planning permission. Where planning consent is required the following policy will apply:

DM Policy 22: Conversion or Rebuild of Rural Buildings for Economic Development Purposes

Proposals to convert or, where not capable of conversion, rebuild rural buildings, for employment, non-residential tourism, leisure or community-related uses will be supported subject to meeting all of the following criteria:

a. The building is of the same form, bulk and general design,

b. The building is to be converted or rebuilt in a way that preserves the rural character of the area,

c. It can be demonstrated that the development will not generate a type or amount of traffic that would be inappropriate to the rural road network that serves it and,

d. The scale and nature of the proposed use would not result in any significant adverse impacts on the character of any settlement or buildings, the surrounding landscape, its biodiversity value or the amenities of local residents.

DM Policy 23: New Employment Premises in the Countryside

New employment premises in the countryside will not be permitted unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated to set aside the normal presumption against such developments. Such circumstances may include the functional need for a countryside location, such as the processing of local agricultural products. New employment sites in the countryside will need to have regard to the need to protect countryside sites with specific landscape, biodiversity or historic qualities.

Development should have regard to the Kent Downs AONB Farmstead Guidance produced by English Heritage (now known as Historic England), Kent Downs AONB, KCC and Kent Design.

DM Policy 23: New Employment Premises in the Countryside

Proposals for employment development in the countryside, which are not specifically allocated for development in this Plan and where DM Policies 18 (New Employment Development) and 22 (Conversion or Re-build of Rural Buildings) do not apply, will not be supported unless all of the following criteria can be met:-

a. It is essential for the proposal to be located in the countryside;

b. Development can be integrated sensitively into its context respecting the character of any important existing buildings, the landscape setting and sites of biodiversity value;

c. There would be no significant impact on the amenities of any neighbouring residential occupiers; and,

d. It can be demonstrated that the development will not generate a type or amount of traffic that would be inappropriate to the rural road network that serves it.

DM Policy 24: Tourism and Tourist/Visitor Accommodation

Sustainable Tourism and Tourist/Visitor Accommodation

The visitor economy, visitor experiences and tourism are increasingly important catalysts for social, economic and physical regeneration. The Tourism Strategy (‘Destination White Cliffs Country – A Growth Strategy for Tourism and the Visitor Economy 2020 to 2030’ due to be adopted in 2020) aims to encourage investment in the tourism industry, attract new providers and increase the number of staying visitors year on year and to increase visitor spend per trip.

Both the strategic location and the District’s rich natural and historic environments attract many millions of people to Dover each year, and we want to increase the number of over night staying visitors within the district, which has been disproportionately low and capitalise on our excellent location internationally important connections to and from Europe.

Improvements to infrastructure and the facilitation of new hotels, particularly 4* or 5* rated, restaurants and attractions, as well as business and marketing centres, will help to enable and achieve the aspirations for the tourism sector within the Dover District. The tourism industry is a major contributor to the local economy and a proactive approach to encourage the expansion of our existing tourism offer within the district will continue to grow the tourism sector, further boosting the economy and creating more jobs.

White Cliffs Country has over 100 recognised visitor attractions, which are currently history and heritage focused, supported by leisure and activity, as well as culture. By allowing these existing attractions to fulfil their full capabilities and encouraging new and creative tourism opportunities, we can further increase the tourism contribution to the local economy.

A broad range of accommodation, both serviced and self catering must be available to meet the tourism requirements in sustainable locations. The aim is to create sustainable tourism which offers a choice of transport options for visitors and employees. Visitor accommodation in the District has been heavily dominated by the self-catering market, we want to enable more serviced hotels and Bed and Breakfast accommodation as well as continuing to expand and diversify the self catering market.

DM Policy 24 - Tourism and Tourist/Visitor Accommodation

Proposals will be supported which deliver a high quality, sustainable tourism experience for visitors to the district, and ensure proposals benefit the local community and businesses.

Proposals will be supported where they contribute to at least one or more of the following criteria:

  • Enhance and improve the quality and diversity of visitor experiences
  • Increase the number of visitors, the length of stay of overnight visitors and the range of high quality accommodation available
  • Encourage a year round sustainable tourism industry
  • Increase the number of jobs, opportunities for training, skills development and apprenticeships within the Visitor Economy.
Tourism Proposals

Tourism proposals will be supported where they:

  • Are located within or adjacent to an existing visitor attraction or accommodation site; or
  • Rely upon a geographically fixed resource which justifies the development; or
  • Are within or well related to an existing settlement

Tourism proposals must be at an appropriate scale that does not detrimentally impact on the surrounding area, including impact upon the road network and will be accessed by a range of means of transport.

Serviced Tourist/Visitor Accommodation

We will seek to retain and evolve a broad range of high quality serviced tourist accommodation. New serviced tourist/visitor accommodation will be supported, including extensions and improvements to existing accommodation, where proposals are well related to existing built development and can satisfy the following criteria.

Proposals will be supported where they:

  • Are at an appropriate scale that does not detrimentally impact the surrounding area, including the impact upon the road network.
  • Are in a sustainable location and accessible by a range of means of transport, including walking and cycling.
  • Respect landscape character and nature conservation value.
  • Provide appropriate mitigation to deal with any increase in recreational pressure on designated nature conservation sites.

Proposals for conference and exhibition facilities in the Town Centres, potentially in association with hotel development, will be supported subject to other Local Plan policies.

Proposals that would result in the loss of existing high quality tourist/visitor accommodation with 10 or more bedrooms will not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that the hotel/guesthouse or self catering accommodation is no longer viable for such use.

Self Catering Tourist Accommodation – Caravans and Camping

We will seek to retain and evolve a broad range of self catering accommodation to suit a variety of budgets. Proposals for the development, diversification, upgrade or improvement of self-catering tourist/visitor accommodation (including caravans, camping, glamping, lodges, huts, tree house accommodation, and pods) will be supported subject to the following criteria.

Proposals will be supported where they:

  • Are of appropriate siting, design, scale and access
  • Are related well to the primary and secondary road network
  • Are consistent with the landscape character and capable of being extensively landscaped, with screening and landscape recovery incorporated

We will only permit the loss of tented or touring caravan uses to other forms of caravan and camping accommodation where:

  • There is a good range of caravan and camping accommodation maintained in the local area
  • The proposal would broaden the range and offer of accommodation available through the provision of new types of accommodation.