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.”
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.
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.