Adequate housing is a basic human need, but not everybody's needs are being met. While the planning system cannot solve housing problems, it can ensure that enough land is available for housebuilding and seek to ensure that housebuilders cater for the needs of the population. Although the Council no longer builds houses, it remains the largest landlord in the District (with some 5,000 homes) and works in partnership with housing associations to provide new homes. The Council, therefore, has a dual role through use of its planning powers and as a provider of housing. Consequently, the Council's housing strategy will be implemented through the joint working of the Planning and Housing Departments.

Existing Situation


The District contains two urban areas, Dover and Deal, the small rural town of Sandwich and a large rural area with many villages and hamlets. The population of the District, according to the 1991 Census, is 103,216. The County Council forecasts that this will increase to 106,800 by 20061. Despite the relatively small increase in population, a demand for new houses is expected because there is a strong trend for the size of households to decrease. In 1981, the average size was 2.62 people per household but by 1991, this had fallen to 2.41. By 2006, it is likely to have fallen again to 2.19 people per household - the third lowest in Kent.


About two thirds of the population lives in the urban areas. This proportion has remained constant since the 1981 Census. The household size and age profile of the urban and rural populations are very similar. Deal, however, has a higher proportion of retired people than Dover. The 1991 Census also revealed a quarter of the population to be suffering from a limiting long term illness and that, of these people, over one half are above retirement age. While this is about the same as the national average, it points to the importance of new housing to cater for the specific needs of the District's population. The main areas of specific need concern the elderly, the disabled and those people who cannot afford adequate and appropriate housing. Owing to the role of the public sector as enabler, rather than provider, of housing, the planning system is increasingly looking to the private sector to make a significant contribution to meeting those needs.


There is a strong unsustainable characteristic to the District's pattern of development, in terms of the relationship between where people live and centres of employment. This is particularly the case in Deal and the rural areas. In this respect, an analysis of the location of housebuilding between 1986 and 1993 shows that the proportion of houses built in the rural area closely reflects the distribution of population. In addition, the poor economic outlook for the District makes it particularly important to ensure that the level of housebuilding is geared to meeting the needs of the existing population and not allowed to run at higher levels, which could encourage people to move into the District. With the exception of Aylesham, the Structure Plan housing land quantities have been set with this in mind.


The 1991 Census has revealed that the District's housing stock grew over the period 1981-91by 11%, while the population increased by about 2%. This underlines the point that the demand for additional dwellings comes mainly from household formation, as a result of the strong trend towards smaller households. However, in 1991 the District contained 2,634 more dwellings than households, which indicates that 6% of the housing stock is lying vacant. This compares poorly with the national average of 4.8% and suggests that making better use of existing housing is an important issue. However, while the Council can take this into account in the management of its own housing stock, it does not have any influence over the private sector on this matter.


Other changes in the housing stock included an increase in the proportion of single person households and non-household residents who live in some form of care, an improvement in basic household amenities (although lack of amenities remains higher than the national average), and a large shift away from local authority and privately rented housing to owner occupation and housing association rented. Over the period 1981-91, the percentage of local authority rented housing fell from about 25% to 15%, while owner occupation rose from about 59% to 72%. The indications are that these trends are likely to continue during the Plan Period.

Applying the Plan's Aims and Objectives


In relation to Aim 1, Objectives 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 13 are relevant. The thrust of these Objectives is to concentrate housing development at the urban areas, avoid building on fresh land, maximise the re-use of previously developed land, meet the needs of the local population, encourage energy efficient development, provide adequate open spaces and encourage high densities near major public transport routes and town centres.


In relation to Aim 2, Objective 18 seeks to protect the local economy by not allowing housing on employment sites.


Aim 3 concerns equality of access. Objective 22, which is concerned with physical access and financial constraints on access, and Objective 23, which seeks to encourage housing development to be built to the highest design and amenity standards, are relevant.

Housing Strategy


From the existing situation and the Objectives, several strong themes emerge and together form the Plan's housing strategy. The strategy seeks to:-

  1. control the upper and lower levels of available housing land;
  2. direct provision to the urban areas;
  3. target provision better towards the needs of the local population;
  4. provide a choice of housing opportunities in terms of size, type and location of dwelling within the constraints set by the Plan's objectives;
  5. manage the existing stock in a way which reflects local peoples' needs; and
  6. to accommodate future employment generated housing in a sustainable manner.



The relationship between the location of jobs, shops and social facilities, and where people live, has a strong bearing on the amount of travel people undertake and the type of transport they use. A more sustainable pattern of development would reduce the need for travel by ensuring that people live as near as is practical to facilities. It would also ensure that there is a viable choice of means of transport, which would help to reduce peoples' reliance on the private car. This approach is reflected in Structure Plan Policy S1 which seeks to achieve a sustainable pattern of development which will reduce the need to travel.


The first aim of Structure Plan Policy S6 is to concentrate housing provision at the urban areas, while recognising that the rural settlements have a role to play in contributing to overall requirements and choice of location. The task of the Local Plan is to apply this approach to the particular circumstances of the District. Residential development should be concentrated at Dover and Deal within the urban boundaries shown on the Proposals Map. In the District's rural area residential development will have a lesser role being generally limited to that necessary to meet local needs or sustain local communities and adding to choice of location.


While 36% of the economically active population lives in the rural area, in 1993 this area contained only 25% of all the District's jobs. However, many jobs in the rural area are located at Sandwich and as a result there is a large imbalance between resident workforce and jobs in the town. More housing may help to redress this and create a balanced settlement. However, there are particular reasons for not allocating fresh housing land at Sandwich in the Plan. Firstly, the Structure Plan Policy H1 housing requirements are met and there is no need to allocate additional housing sites. Secondly, the scale of housing development required to redress the imbalance would involve a substantial release of fresh land contrary to Structure Plan Policy S6. Thirdly, Sandwich is a small historic town of great conservation merit and its character and setting within an open and largely flat landscape would be undermined if such development was allowed. Fourthly, the majority of the built-up area of Sandwich and its countryside setting lies within a flood risk area and, taking a precautionary approach, new residential development should be directed away from areas at risk from flooding in order to protect life and property. In assessing the employment generated housing requirements of Pfizer, the Council has identified sites in sustainable locations, taking into consideration the role of the various settlements distributed through the northern part of the District, accessibility, environmental and conservation interests. This approach is in line with PPG3, PPG7, PPG13 and Kent Structure Plan Policies S1 and S6(a). Similar considerations will be taken into account when determining proposals for windfall developments.


Additionally, in the rural area services are sparse and in long term decline. This trend is a national problem which has its roots in increasing personal mobility, new forms of commercial competition and financial decision making. Consequently, previous levels of rural housebuilding have made little difference in slowing down, let alone reversing, the trend. The result is an increasing need for people in rural areas to travel and an increasing dependence on private transport. The Plan's approach to rural settlements is, therefore, to support the maintenance of existing services and their expansion, wherever possible, while limiting housebuilding to that required to meet specific local or community needs. Restraint policies have been applied for many years but they have primarily been based upon countryside protection. This Plan widens the justification for, and degree of, restraint to include the new sustainable issues of reducing the need to travel, restraining travel generated pollution, and encouraging choice and ease of access to jobs, shops and other services.


Higher density residential development within urban areas can help to make public transport more viable and, in doing so, provide people with more choice as to how they can travel. Following the advice in PPG13, the Council will support higher densities near public transport centres, and along routes well served or with the potential to be so served by public transport and close to local facilities. The Council will also ensure that developments at least achieve the minimum density advised in PPG3. However, higher density development will not be supported at the expense of open space requirements or the erosion of the character of an area.


A mixture of residential with other uses, especially within the centre of urban areas, can provide the potential for people to live close to their work and to other facilities and, consequently, reduce the length of journeys. This could be achieved through, whenever feasible, requiring large scale developments to include a mixture of uses and through encouraging residential development next to commercial, subject to there being no conflict with the policies of the Plan, especially the supply of land identified for other uses. This matter has been addressed in relation to land allocated through the Plan and, where appropriate, the policies in Chapter 15.



Structure Plan Policy H1 sets out the number of new dwellings which should be planned for in the District over the Plan Period. It also gives an indication of how the total should be divided between the Structure Plan Areas of Dover and Deal. This is shown in Figure 10.1.


Source: Kent Structure Plan 1996
Note: Deal Planning Area includes the provision of 1,000 dwellings at Aylesham (see Chapter 14)

The supply of land for housebuilding is assessed annually through a joint study carried out by the Kent Planning Officers Group. The Plan is based on the study that was carried out in 1999.


Housing land supply consists of sites which either have an unimplemented planning permission or are allocated in a local plan. The sites are broken down into two categories:-

  1. Large sites:Those capable of accommodating five or more dwellings net. Such sites are assessed individually by the Study.
  2. Small sites:Those capable of accommodating up to four dwellings net. Such sites are not individually assessed. Instead, an annual average figure, based upon the previous 5 years construction rates, is used to calculate their contribution to total supply. The 1999 study estimates that small sites will contribute 66 dwellings per year throughout the District.

The supply of housing land is constantly changing, due to planning permissions expiring and not being renewed, new permissions for conversion and redevelopment on sites not previously identified, and to alterations in density on identified sites. Such changes can result in both losses and additions to the supply. Additions to the supply are known as bonus. By its very nature, it is an unpredictable source of housing land but it can also be highly significant.


To reflect the fact that the proposals for Aylesham are not related to the District's general housing requirements, the 1999 Study draws a distinction between the special allocation at Aylesham and the general requirements for the District. Figures 10.2 and 10.3 are based upon the Study's results. The figures which exclude Aylesham, provide an accurate picture of the general housing land situation and will be used to implement Policy HS2. Figure 10.2 shows that in relation to the District's five year requirement there is an over-supply of housing land for 160 dwellings or 15% (1229 - 1069 = 160). Figure 10.3 shows that the total land supply exceeds the housing requirement over the whole Plan Period - an over-supply of 226 dwellings or 15% (1755 - 1529 = 226). The specific allocation of housing land for the expansion of Aylesham is considered in Chapter 14.




The actual rate of housebuilding is outpacing not only the Structure Plan rate, but also the rate implied by the supply. This is due to the take-up of bonus permissions. The implications of this are serious in terms of undermining both the Structure Plan and Local Plan strategies. In the Deal area, it could cause an even greater imbalance between population and jobs and, therefore, increase out commuting. In the Dover area, where the housing requirement is already set above the trend, it would encourage in migration at a time when economic prospects are at best uncertain.





From survey work, the Council has found that many shops in the town centres only use the ground floor for retailing, with the upper floors remaining vacant or used for storage. Owing to their lack of use, such premises often have a neglected appearance and are an under used resource. The Council wishes to see this accommodation put to better use, and considers housing particularly suitable as it would bring increased life and vitality into the town centres outside shopping hours. It would also create further opportunities for people to live close to shops, services and public transport and in doing so reduce the need to travel.


In many cases, it will be difficult to meet full car parking requirements. Equally though, occupants will have much less need for private transport. Any dwellings will need to be accessed separately from the shops. The Council's Housing Department will investigate providing this type of housing in conjunction with other agencies, including housing associations. In certain circumstances, the use of the upper floor of a commercial property as a single flat does not require planning permission. When planning permission is required the relevant policies of this Plan will apply, in particular Policy DD1 where an important consideration will be whether the upper floor(s) of the property is of a sufficient size to allow subdivision to a separate dwelling.


1Structure Plan Technical Working Paper 1/94
2 The following sites allocated in previous plans are not being carried forward into this Plan:- Broadacre/Marshall's Wick, Lydden; land rear of London Road, Beachwood Avenue and Park Avenue, Deal; land south west of Northwall Road, Deal; land rear of Delf Street and Moat Sole, Sandwich; land opposite St Mary's Church, Strand Street, Sandwich and land off Sandwich Road and Shooter's Hill, Eythorne
3 Department of the Environment discussion paper >Housing in Rural Areas: Village Housing and New Villages (July 1988)