Conservation officer says TDC plans for Ramsgate harbour railings will ‘seriously disfigure’ quay

TDC wants to install railings for public safety

A Thanet council proposal to install additional railings around Ramsgate’s harbour edge has been approved approved despite objections from the authority’s own conservation officer.

The railings are to be placed at the inner and outer harbour, extending from the slipway on Military Road to the south,  at the East and West Cross Walls and part of the Western Pier.

Thanet council says the three-bar ‘keylock’ railings are necessary for public safety following seven incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles leaving the quay, and falling into the marina or onto pontoons since July 2014.

Three of the incidents were along Military Road and four on the harbour cross walls.

‘Increased risk’

In a report to planning committee members meeting on December 13 it states: “These new uses along Military Road have increased the amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic to this area and the external seating along Military Road has reduced the available space.

“As a result of this change in character, it is clear to see that there is an increased risk to pedestrians and vehicles without railings in this area. This change in character and risk has been recognised by the Ramsgate Design and Heritage Forum and the conservation officer, however it has been noted that from the submitted application it is not clear whether other options have been explored to minimise or mitigate these risks and it is these features of the heritage assets that contribute to their historical and architectural significance.

“Military Road continues to move away from its working character, with the most recent application for a mixed use development granted on the 29th November 2017 and therefore the risk to members of the public within this immediate area is only likely to increase.”

Listed status

Photo by Brian Whitehead

The Harbour cross walls, sluices, bollards, dry dock, basin gates, wing wall and Dundee steps are grade II* listed and the Inner basin wall, slipway, steps, West Pier, bollards, iron crane and fairleads are grade II listed.

All of these individual listings include the granite walls with the granite coping stones that extend around the inner and outer marinas. The work to install the barriers will mean cutting holes into the Granite coping stones.

Some amendments have been made to the design of the railings following comments from the conservation officer but they say the heritage quality of the existing railings would suffer significant harm.


How it could look

The officer adds: “I acknowledge the key reason of the development is the mitigation on public safety risk. However I am not clear whether other options have been explored whereby such risks could be minimised or mitigated. These heritage assets may appear a safety risk but what may make them more of a theoretical risk is also what makes them historically important, attractive and interesting meriting their preservation. The proposed railings could be unsightly and could seriously disfigure and clutter the view of the quay.”

The planning officer admits there will be harm to the historical and architectural significance of the designated heritage assets but says this is outweighed by the need for public safety.


  1. Although the council might have a general duty of care to take reasonable measures to make its property safe, it doesn’t have to go ‘overboard’ (Ha-Ha!) Ultimately individuals are responsible for their own safety. Where would this ‘nannying’ end – railings on every part of every harbour wall, quayside, river bank and cliff? What makes Military Road attractive to its new audience is its almost unsanitised character as part of a real, working harbour. Leave it alone!

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