Thanet council refusal for harbour railings at Ramsgate overturned after authority appeals against its own decision

Two areas proposed for railings

A Thanet council refusal of a listed building planning application has been overturned – after the authority appealed against its own decision.

The council refused an application made by its own officer for listed building consent for railings to be installed at Ramsgate Harbour, against a recommendation for approval, and then lost a subsequent appeal – against itself.

In May 2019 the council’s Head of Maritime and Technical Services, Mike Humber, applied for permission – on behalf of the council – to install 652 metres of quayside railing on the grade 2*  Crosswall and West Pier at Ramsgate Royal Harbour.

The application followed previous approval to install 216m of railing to the Military Road area of the harbour and on the South West side of the Inner Basin for public safety reasons after a number of incidents with pedestrians and cars going over the edge.

The new request was for further ‘infill’ railings at the Crosswall and West Pier, saying it was “to address the risk to the public presented by the open quay edge. It is further proposed to install railings of the same design to part of the West Pier to improve safety for customers accessing the Western Outer Marina.”

One area without the ‘infill’ railings

Planning documents for the scheme said: “The character of the harbour has changed in  recent years with the various restaurants, cafes and retail outlets along Military Road  increasing the appeal of the harbour as a tourist destination and subsequently increasing the amount of visitors along the Crosswall and Western Pier.

“The harbour also has capacity for over 600 permanent and visitor berths, with the main visitor berths being located along the Western Pier.

“Information has been submitted during the application process showing the location of seven incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles leaving the quay, and falling into the  marina or onto pontoons since July 2014. Three of these incidents have occurred along  Military Road and four on the harbour cross walls. As a result of this changing character, it is clear to see that there is an increased risk to pedestrians and vehicles without railings in  these areas. “

The planning officer recommended approval, saying despite causing “harm to the historical and architectural significance of the designated heritage assets” this was outweighed by the increased risk to the public.

But councillors on the planning committee last August disagreed and voted to reject the application saying the harm to the Grade II* Listed structure was not outweighed by public benefits.

How the new railings would look

Officer Mike Humber then submitted an appeal on behalf of Operational Services at Thanet District Council against the council planning committee’s decision saying installation of the railings would not “cause harm to the historic fabric, they will be sympathetically installed.”

The appeal outcome, published this month, shows the Planning Inspectorate agreed with Mr Humber and permission for the railings scheme has now been given.

In his report the inspector said: “I saw that beyond the location of the proposed railings towards the water, in many places there was a sizeable drop off the edges of the Crosswalk and West Pier.

“Moreover, the Appellant (Thanet council’s Mr Humber) has submitted examples of where health and safety issues have arisen over the past few years, owing in part to the lack of barriers in the places sought. In this respect, the erection of the railings sought would provide a substantial public benefit that would significantly reduce the potential of accidents of vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians using the harbour. In this respect, whilst the proposal would fail to preserve the special interest of the Grade II* listed building and therefore result in less than substantial harm the manifest and significant public benefits outweigh the harm in this case.”

An appeal for costs was not made.


  1. You could not make it up. Do all the staff have mirrors in front of their desks so they can have a conversation with their selves.

  2. What? 200 years we manage without rails. Let the idiots drown if they are that stupid. At least they might not reproduce and perpetuate the decline into snowflake gormlessness.

    • Just like the telegram the father sent his children in Swallows and Amazons
      If not duffers won’t drown!

  3. Absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary. But then look who the original applicant was. The same genius who reckons Berths 4 and 5 in the port need replacing, despite the buried engineering report from 2016 stated exactly the opposite. It’s not just the pipework that’s bent here…

  4. The council refused an application made by its own officer for listed building consent for railings to be installed at Ramsgate Harbour, against a recommendation for approval, and then lost a subsequent appeal – against itself.

    If anyone was left in any doubt what an utterly dysfunctional organisation TDC is they just need to re-read this paragraph.

    What a joke. Next time they are crying about having insufficient resources and funds please remember this.

    • Sad but true, TDC are the worst council I have ever had to deal with. A clear out of the most senior officers is long overdue. Until they go there is likely to be no change for the better.

  5. Perhaps it may stop the youngsters diving into the harbour when they are not supposed to ?

  6. I think this is a great idea. As an officer of the port he sees these issues regularly. Moaners saying it’s a waste of our money would only be moaning more if someone died or injured from accidentally falling in and the council sued. We want to build the port up as a recreational village and therefore safety has to be paramount as Tourism brings in a lot of money to our local economy.

  7. And all this came about as some silly woman couldnt be bothered to hold onto her push chair with baby in it.

    • While I agree the railings would be a good idea, making the areas much safer, I am still struggling to understand how the council can lose an appeal against itself?

      It’s like going to the supermarket, and picking something up in your left hand, then the right hand putting it back, because it’s not needed.

  8. Yes, why not at the same time put railings along busy roads to prevent people crossing, and along cycle paths, and then lets install railings wherever there has been an accident.
    Yes, in areas where there could be confusion which compromises safety apply safeguards, but people must be responsible for themselves and not expect a nanny state to provide them.

    • Exactly, if your too stupid and fall into or over things then that’s your problem.

      Why do we cater for people who have no intelligence, most of the time it’s because they are too busy on their phone. Look up from the screen and see what the real world is like.

      I once fell over in a park, was it my fault? yes it was, as I was very very drunk.

  9. Having railings is a good idea. How easy is it to get out of the harbour if you’ve fallen in? Not as easy as choosing a safe place to cross the road, I bet.

  10. At least the Council can not be accused of sitting on the fence, on this. As they would appeal against themselves having a fence to sit on. The Council remind me of Colin Bomber Harris from Monty Python. I know it is a old chestnut but you really could not make it up.

  11. TDC ia supposed to be a body corporate – not a dismembered corpse.

    How much is the 652 metres of railing now going to cost ?

  12. TDC have a duty of care. They have seen what can happen by not having railings fitted so they are now for-filling that duty of care. The railings on the Cliff top are also there for good reason.

    • There is a fundamental duty of care that we each have for ourselves.
      For example, if you go in the sea, you must expect to get wet. If you go in the sea and can’t swim, you must expect even worse. But no one is suggesting that we should fence off the beach.
      Common sense seems to have gone out the window.

  13. Of course it now needs railings! The marina is getting ever more popular with bars etc and the idiots that say oh it’s been like this for years need to get with it!

  14. Thanet council are useless , I contacted them about my neighbours breach of planning regulations and they sent their reply to me to my neighbor by mistake which was supposed to have been annonomous ! They really couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery !

  15. 99% of you have never felt the way wind can whip around that harbour. It could pull a grown man off his feet!

    As a 15/16 year old Sea Cadet before the railings where installed I was terrified about being pulled off my feet and into the harbour during heavy winds – despite being on the other side of the road! And before you say it – some people don’t have much choice about walking in gales…

  16. Railings would make the area safer. Of course, many contributors to this discussion are confident that THEY would never be foolish enough to fall in as THEY are superior beings. But everybody who ever had an accident believed that THEY would never suffer from one. Until they did.
    Most of us, at any one time, are not suffering from a serious illness. But we are sensible enough to create the NHS so that we are prepared for it when it happens. Most people do not break the law but we are sensible enough to have laws and Courts and Police to try to deal with the minority that DO break the law.
    Most of us never have a house fire or flood or burglary, but we still take out home insurance and we regard that as common sense.
    So why complain about some railings to keep us all safe even if only a few might make an error and put ourselves at risk?
    As for banging on about the “Nanny state”, I would be happy to have one back!! A country that looked after it’s citizens from the cradle to the grave. Provided health care and education, decent affordable housing, well-paid work, paid holidays with wages that could cover the cost of a small holiday away, retirement at an age early enough to be able to enjoy it and with a better pension than we currently have. None of this is impossible as many other European countries have proved.
    But, here in the UK, if we argue for a civilised society, we are shouted down for wanting a “Nanny State”! No wonder the population gets poorer and more stressed by the day!

  17. The planning system requires the council to apply to itself for permission – that seems pretty daft on the face of it but It’s true all over the country not just in Thanet. Elected members have to hear any applications from the council to apply a degree of separation – in order that officers can’t just give themselves permission.

    In this case members of the planning committee disagreed with the application from the officer. He appealed to an independent inspector as any other applicant would have the right to do and won.

    It’s a great yarn and easy to ridicule, but actually this is how the system should work. It shows members are independent minded enough to challenge proposals put forward by officers and that the council is treated by then like any other applicant, which is a protection for the public.

    This is an unusual one, but it derives from the legal requirement for the council to apply to itself got consent – which isn’t down to TDC.

  18. In this day & age railings are a must health & safety must come 1st the crazy situation is departments disagreeing with each other it would have been better for both departments to meet together to discuss the issue hence saving money

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