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Priority One: Beach Management and Development

Thanet’s beaches, bays and cliffs are among its strongest assets.

They are overwhelmingly what motivate people to visit. Their development, management and presentation should be excellent in every way. Well-maintained beaches are particularly important because everyone will visit a beach during their stay; they showcase the destination.

Beaches are well-used and a number of the bays have Blue Flags. However, the coast is a corrosive environment, so beach infrastructure can be costly to maintain. They are part of the public realm and traditionally the maintenance costs fall to the local authority. Thanet’s beaches are not all the same. It is important to play to those differences and see each beach as an attraction in its own right or as a local community asset, and develop and manage it accordingly.

It is essential that coastal wildlife and natural habitats are valued and remain protected in this process. The quality of Thanet’s coastal wildlife and habitats are nationally recognised in SSSI, and pMCZ and NNR designations, and internationally within the Ramsar, SPA and two SAC[6] designations. These designations are collectively known as the ‘N.E. Kent MPA’. New beach developments, trails and other coastal activity provide an opportunity for visitors to learn more about Thanet’s coastal wildlife and to communicate responsible visitor behaviour.

Beaches can provide the location for new styles of relatively inexpensive, flexible and fun visitor accommodation – a modern rework of the traditional beach hut – through the introduction of well- designed pods or individual units that can offer a stylish self-catering option in superb locations to appeal to Thanet’s priority markets.

Thanet will prioritise:

  • Measures to improve and focus the day-to-day management of the beaches and the water quality with the effective deployment of resources along the Thanet coastline, taking a beach-by-beach approach.
  • Actions that encourage the development of new activities along the coast and introduce new management models for beaches where appropriate
  • Encourage the development of beach-based units to provide new visitor accommodation opportunities.

The three principal actions are to:

Develop a Beach Management Plan – a beach-by-beach approach that draws on best practice to inform and inspire. The objective is to provide a clearer understanding of the resources available to each beach and how they are deployed. The plan will give all stakeholders access to the management costs and revenue from each beach and that means a better understanding of what’s involved for infrastructure provision, amenities, facilities and services, signage, enforcement and operational issues as well as for planning and conservation policies. It will ensure joined-up working across Council departments responsible for beach management.

Establish a Beach Business Group – to foster collaborative working and shared experience, and to explore an industry led membership programme to generate additional funding for targeted beach management, possibly as part of a DMP-wide delivery approach. It will meet 2 to 3 times a year to share information, for members to network, and as a forum to explore new ways of raising revenue and extending capacity. Membership will include beach businesses because their livelihood is dependent on effective beach management.

Develop opportunities for managed beaches – Thanet will make a detailed case, drawing on international best practice and building on initial work undertaken by the CAST Programme for East Kent. It will develop and pilot innovative and creative approaches for some beaches, e.g. themed beaches with bespoke facilities for particular users.

 

[6] SSSI - Site of Special Scientific interest; pMCZ - potential ‘Marine Conservation Zone’; NNR - National Nature Reserve; SPA - Special Protected Area; NE Kent; MPA - North East Kent Marine Protected Area