The Historic Environment

Dover District benefits from a particularly significant archaeological and historical heritage, in part due to its strategic location as a gateway to Britain. This wealth of heritage assets includes those of national and international importance, such as the Roman lighthouse and Norman Castle at Dover, the medieval town of Sandwich, the Tudor castles at Deal and Walmer and the defensive, anti-invasion structures from the Napoleonic and World War periods above Dover at Western Heights and Fort Burgoyne and along the coastline. Inland, the district is rich in historic villages of agricultural origins, many with flint and brick churches dating from the Anglo Saxon and Norman periods, while the surviving buildings of the East Kent coalfields and the planned settlements built to serve them largely between 1920s and the 1950s, still survive in northern and western areas of the district.

The district is home to almost 2,000 listed buildings, 48 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, 57 Conservation Areas, 21 historic parks and gardens, one protected wreck site and 12 museums.

The current development plan for the District includes only one historic environment policy and a strategic site policy for Dover Western Heights. Such an approach is at odds with current government advice which requires that local planning authorities set out in their Local Plans a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage that is most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats.

Draft Historic Environment Policies Map

What are the key issues to consider?

From initial consultation, and the evidence we have collected so far, we have identified the following key issues in respect to the historic environment:

  • To promote the conservation and, where appropriate, the restoration and enhancement of the District’s heritage assets, in order to protect their significance and to ensure that they can be best appreciated and enjoyed by future generations.
  • To encourage the role that the District’s historic environment and heritage assets can play in the local economy and in enabling and informing new development to secure better outcomes from sustainable growth.
  • To reconcile the need for energy efficient and low carbon building technologies and design, with the need to ensure that the historic and architectural character of the Districts heritage assets is sustained.
  • To improve access to, understanding of, and enjoyment of the Districts historic environment, including the securing of a sustainable future for the Dover Western Heights Fortifications through the unlocking of the value of its military heritage and its unique setting and by widening its appeal as a strategic location for inward investment.
View our Evidence Base

How could these be addressed through planning policy and what is our preferred approach?

The policy options for addressing the key issues identified are set out below:

Historic Environment Policy Options

The current planning policy framework for the District includes only one historic environment policy (for applications affecting Historic Parks and Gardens, Policy DM19), and a strategic site policy for Dover Western Heights (Policy LA11). Such an approach is at odds with the NPPF which requires local planning authorities to set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats. A strategic policy for protecting the rich historic environment of the district is therefore considered to be essential for the Local Plan 2040.

In considering the delivery of such an overarching strategy, policy options include separate policies for different categories of heritage assets; namely listed buildings, conservation areas, archaeological remains and scheduled ancient monuments, historic parks and gardens and protected wreck sites or one generic policy for all heritage assets. Given the exceptional wealth and diversity of the heritage assets that Dover District enjoys, policies for different categories of heritage assets is the preferred approach, with the exception of including a standalone policy for the one protected wreck site in the district, which it was felt would be adequately covered by both the strategic policy and a policy for designated heritage assets.

As this district is particularly rich in heritage assets, a number of them iconic, the option of having site specific policies for significant heritage assets was also considered. Of the principal assets, there is a substantial evidence base for the Dover Western Heights fortifications and therefore a policy for this important site is considered appropriate.

Finally, following the Council’s declaration of a climate change emergency and commitment to the delivery of a carbon neutral district by 2050, it is considered important that the Plan include clear policy to guide proposals for energy efficiency improvements to heritage assets in order to ensure that their heritage significance is sufficiently protected. Current advice from Historic England, which requires clear adoption of a ‘whole building’ approach, forms the basis of the preferred approach. It is considered that this best ensures that proposals are based on an understanding of the methods of construction, fabric and history of the individual building or assets, in order to deliver solutions that sustain heritage significance, save energy and maintain a healthy indoor environment for the occupiers. There is the option of a standalone policy for such retrofitting proposals or to include policy on this issue within the policy on designated and non-designated heritage assets. The preferred approach is for the latter, given that the majority of such proposals that will come forward will do so as applications for alterations to listed buildings or to non-designated heritage assets in conservation areas.

View the Draft Local Plan on our Consultation Portal