The Council is committed to improving the overall quality of the District's built environment. It is supported by the Government through, in particular, PPG1, which requires the Council to consider design matters. This chapter sets out the general criteria for the design of new development in the District. Development affecting buildings and areas of historic or architectural interest is considered in Chapter 9, while additional design policies for the planned expansion of Aylesham are considered in Chapter 14.

Applying the Plan's Aims and Objectives


The siting and design of development can further sustainability (Aim 1) in several ways. For example, the orientation of buildings and materials used can save energy through lower heating costs (Objective 5), design flexibility can lengthen the useful life of a building (Objective 7) and consideration of the amenity value of open space is a design issue (Objective 3).


An attractive built environment not only provides a better quality of life for local people, it also encourages visitors and investors. In this way, design can support Aim 2, especially Objective 21.


Physical access to buildings and the spaces between buildings affect people's ability to use the environment. In line with Aim 3, design can be used to help achieve greater accessibility (Objective 22) and create a better quality environment (Objective 23).

Development and Design Strategy


Based on the Aims and Objectives, the Plan's Development and Design Strategy will seek to:-

  1. create a more sustainable pattern of development;
  2. improve the general attractiveness of the District's built environment, by encouraging a high standard of design for all development;
  3. promote the issues of safety and accessibility in all development;
  4. encourage energy efficient development; and
  5. use design to help minimise the harmful environmental impacts of development.

The ability of the Plan to fully implement this Strategy is limited. For example, improving the overall quality of development is a very long term goal, and planning control over matters such as energy and accessibility standards for new buildings are limited. Nevertheless, the Plan can directly influence the design of new development and, together with other Council functions, especially Building Control, encourage developers to adopt good practice to meet accessibility and energy efficiency objectives.

Horse-Related Development


Horseriding is a popular and growing activity. At the same time, changes in agriculture are encouraging farmers to diversify and many are interested in catering for this demand. This can range from setting up commercial riding establishments to subdividing fields for individual owners to keep their horses. While horseriding is largely a rural pursuit, keeping horses and horse-related development can, in particular,  adversely affect landscape interests (which can, among other things, lead to sporadic development). Unless a high standard of stable management is adhered to, this can create a potential health and pollution hazard. It therefore needs to be carefully controlled.


Planning permission is not needed for simply grazing horses. Within specified limitations, planning permission is not required to house pet horses kept within the curtilage of the owner's dwelling or for horses used solely for agricultural purposes. Planning permission will be required when these limitations are exceeded and in all other instances when horses are bred, kept or housed on land. PPG7 (Annex F) provides guidance on development involving horses. Additional advice can be obtained from bodies such as the British Horse Society, the Association of British Riding Schools and the Countryside Agency.


Wherever possible, privately owned horses should be kept close to the owner's home - preferably in the garden or adjacent paddock - in order to provide maximum care and security for the animal without the need for frequent car journeys. Commercial stables, which meet a largely urban demand should always be located in or close to the urban area in order to reduce the need to travel. Keeping horses in the countryside will not be acceptable if any related development, such as fencing, structures and facilities, would lead to an adverse impact on the landscape. All proposals will need to demonstrate ease of access to suitable riding country, be otherwise acceptable in transport terms and meet the drainage requirements of the Environmental Health Authority and Environment Agency.


Overgrazing and poor land management can lead to soil impoverishment and erosion, and this may become an eyesore. In such circumstances, the Council may use its powers to require the land to be restored and properly maintained (see paragraph 8.77).


Horses need protection from the weather. The conversion of existing buildings, rather than new build, is preferred. Keeping horses can harm residential amenity through noise, smell, dust and, in the case of commercial stables, disturbance. Wherever possible and subject to the advice of the Council's Environmental Health Officer, new buildings and facilities should be grouped near existing buildings. Where this is not possible, they should be sited so as to take advantage of natural screening, such as trees, hedgerows and landform. Proposals should also be acceptable in highway terms. This includes considering the level of traffic generated by the use and the suitability of the local road network to accommodate it. Wear and tear arising from vehicle movements on unmade surfaces and the likely consequences of such on visual amenity and the enjoyment of the countryside for others is also relevant. 


high standard of design and materials will be required, especially if the setting of listed buildings, conservation areas, the AONB or SLAs are affected. Conditions may be imposed to remove buildings or structures when the use ceases.

Policy DD21 –

Horse-related development will be granted provided:

  1. it provides for the safety and comfort of horses in terms of the size of accommodation and land for grazing and exercising;
  2. ease of access to suitable riding country can be demonstrated;
  3. buildings are of a high standard of design and construction and they, together with the related equestrian activities, do not adversely affect the character or appearance of the countryside or areas of historic environment;
  4. where possible, existing buildings should be converted for such use in preference to the erection of new buildings but where new buildings are required these should be sited to relate visually to existing buildings; and
  5. the amenities of nearby residents are not adversely affected.

Conditions may be imposed requiring jumps to be removed when not in use and for buildings or structures to be removed when the use ceases. Conditions may also be imposed to limit the number of horses on the site.

Environmental Appraisal

The policy supports the Objectives of protecting the countryside from development, reducing pollution and minimising the need to travel. No Objectives are adversely affected.



Owing to the chalk geology and topography of the North Downs lying within the District, development can cause unsightly scars. Therefore, proposals which would cause these scars will be resisted. Exceptionally, if building is allowed and scarring should occur, developers will be advised on after-treatments appropriate to the site's setting. This treatment may be a gradual process taking a number of years.


Additionally, large amounts of spoil can be produced, as a result of cut and fill operations, and require satisfactory disposal. Such operations can cause a great deal of disturbance over a wide area, through noise and dust. Excess spoil should not be left on or around development sites since it is visually intrusive. Policy ENV25 of the Kent Structure Plan requires a scheme for the transportation and routeing of such materials, together with proposals for the disposal of surplus spoil, to be designed into relevant development proposals. In line with the objectives of this policy, developers will be required to remove excess material in accordance with a programme agreed with the Council. Calculations of surplus material will be required, and information requested on the method of disposal in order that the Council can advise on the need to contact Kent County Council, as minerals planning authority, regarding the need for separate permission for disposal of the spoil. If planning permission is given, hours of working will be strictly controlled and damping-down will be required.

Policy DD23 –

Development which would result in chalk scars will not be permitted unless an overriding need for the development can be demonstrated. In such exceptional cases, planning permission will be subject to conditions and/or prior legal agreements will be sought by the Council covering:-

  1. after-treatment of the scar;
  2. hours of working;
  3. damping-down of loose material and wheel washing; and
  4. removal of excess spoil material from the site, and its transportation.

Environmental Appraisal

The policy supports the Objectives of protecting the countryside, managing and enhancing habitats, species and landscapes, reducing pollution and using redundant resources before new ones are exploited.



Land and buildings that are not properly maintained can become an eyesore and so affect the amenity of an area. In such cases, the Council may use its powers under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) to require owners and occupiers to restore and maintain land and/or buildings adequately. Exceptionally, the Council may undertake the necessary work and recover the cost.



European Union Directive EC/85/337, which requires the environmental assessment of specified projects, has been effected by the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 and is explained in Circular 15/88. It is intended to ensure that a full range of environmental impacts is taken into account, from creation of pollution and nuisance to impact on flora and fauna, and that adverse effects are prevented or ameliorated at source rather than subsequently trying to counteract them. Developers proposing specified major projects must submit an environmental assessment (EA) with their planning applications. The Council will advise on the need for an EA. Circular 3/95, APermitted Development and Environmental Assessment, advises that certain developments which would otherwise benefit from permitted development rights under the Permitted Development Order, will lose these where an EA is required by the Regulations. In view of the sensitive nature of much of the District and the range of issues that may arise, prospective developers are advised to contact the Council at the earliest opportunity to establish whether an EA is needed. This will avoid wasted time and expenditure.