An eight-week consultation on KCC’s latest plans for protecting the county’s heritage is under way with residents and businesses encouraged to make their views known.
Among the county’s historic features are one world heritage site (Canterbury), 352 scheduled monuments, 17,432 listed buildings, 503 conservation areas and 407 historic parks and gardens.
The tourism industry is an important sector providing 67,000 jobs and contributing more than £1.4 billion to the Kent economy. It is estimated that nearly a third of the annual spend from domestic and international tourism in the UK is attributable to activities broadly defined as heritage-related.
Visiting heritage sites generates money for the local economy – for every £1 spent as part of a heritage visit, 32p is spent on site and the remaining 68p is spent in local businesses: restaurants, cafés, hotels and shops.
The draft Strategy outlines how KCC intends to protect its heritage assets, while tackling a number of challenges, including climate change, coastal erosion, rural activities, housing developments, and infrastructure requirements such as sewers, water supplies and roads.
Another challenge is finding a solution to the issue of archiving artefacts discovered during excavations. KCC is already the owner of more than 2,500 boxes of archive material deriving primarily from the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project and has a direct responsibility to find a home for them.
KCC is also responsible for the long-term storage of archives from road schemes and other county council developments and is keen to continue working with partners to develop a solution for all Kent’s archives, as the retention and deposition of archaeological archives is regarded as national good practice. As the main archaeological curator for Kent, KCC has a responsibility to help find a solution to the archives problem and improve access to information.
Among its other proposals is that metal detecting on KCC-owned land will only be allowed as part of an archaeological investigation or to search for a specific lost object.
Susan Carey, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Kent has a rich and varied heritage which continues to influence our lives. KCC has a key strategic role in helping to safeguard, manage and make that heritage accessible to current residents as well as future generations.
“Each generation leaves its mark and Kent will continue to change. The challenges and opportunities of this are outlined in the consultation document. Do please give us your views and help shape this important strategy.”
The draft Heritage Conservation Strategy can be found here: www.kent.gov.uk/heritageconservationstrategy. Feedback can be provided via the online questionnaire before 13 December 2021.