Chairman – John Wotton
Secretary – Graham Horner
Kent is home to some 18,400 listed buildings, more than in any other county, and several thousand more unlisted but valuable historic buildings and structures. Owing to its importance as a gateway from the continent since Roman times, its proximity to London and its largely rural nature, Kent has retained more than its fair share of medieval buildings. The larger towns and cities contain many fine examples, as do the Cinque Ports of Sandwich, Dover, Hythe and New Romney, Tenterden, Faversham and many smaller towns and villages which prospered through farming and the patronage of the Church and royalty. The area around Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks and the sea-side towns are also rich in post-medieval buildings, all contributing to the attractiveness of Kent as a place to live and a place to visit.
The CPRE Kent Historic Buildings Committee specializes in Kent’s built heritage. It was formed in 1961 by CPRE (Kent) and the Kent Archaeological Society, and exists:
“…to foster the care, repair, preservation, recording and protection of historic buildings and other Heritage Assets … of any period, (together with their environment) whether or not on the statutory Lists of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest and to foster the process of education in such matters.”
The Committee reviews listed building consent and other planning applications throughout Kent on behalf of the Council for British Archaeology, working with planning authorities to safeguard this heritage. It also provides specialist input on heritage issues to CPRE’s campaigns and communications with government. Recent successes include obtaining listed status for the 19th and 20th century lifeboat buildings at Hythe, saving them from demolition, and making a strong and detailed response to proposals to demolish important buildings at Sheerness docks, which were consequently withdrawn.
Our members are qualified in architecture, architectural history, surveying, planning, conservation and engineering and can provide informal advice to CPRE members on any heritage matters.
The Committee publishes the Kent Historic Buildings Index, recognises buildings of quality via a special plaque scheme and sponsors a prize for outstanding student work.
- The National Planning Policy Framework has removed much of the detailed planning guidance on Heritage matters from national policy. This puts more onus on Planning Authorities to set out their approach on these issues. We are urging councils in Kent to take a positive attitude, including preparation of “local lists”. CPRE Kent commented extensively on Dover’s draft Heritage Strategy and our response may be found here.
- We have objected to other recent proposals to relax planning rules for listed buildings. In our view, the existing system is not a significant brake on the government’s push for sustainable development.
- Recent cases the Committee has been active on are described here.