Issue details

24/00068 - KCC Heritage Conservation Strategy Revision - Change to Windmills Policy

Proposed decision


KCC should seek to divest itself of the windmills it currently owns by a method that ensures that the windmills have a sustainable future in which they are appropriately cared for and maintained as community assets, and that the Heritage Conservation Strategy is updated to this effect.


Reason for the decision


This is a proposed change in the policy on KCC owned windmills as set out in the adopted KCC Heritage Conservation Strategy. The decision affects more than two electoral divisions.


The proposed decision would allow alternative ownership arrangements for the eight historic windmills which KCC owns to be explored whilst seeking to ensure a sustainable future for the care and management of the windmills as community assets with the aim of reducing KCC’s long term financial obligations.


The county is sensitive to the importance that communities and volunteers place on windmills, and wish to work with those who are committed to them to secure their future.




KCC currently owns the freehold of eight historic windmills, located in eight different districts and boroughs across the county. The windmill properties, all of which are designated (listed) buildings of high grade, were acquired by KCC as ‘owner of last resort’ between the late 1950s and the mid-1980s. Financial responsibility for the maintenance and management of these eight windmill properties rests solely with KCC, apart from small-scale investment by the volunteer mill groups.


KCC’s approach to the management and maintenance of the windmills is set out in the adopted KCC Heritage Conservation Strategy.


A strategic review of KCC’s windmill assets was undertaken in 2022-23 by a task and finish group comprising officers from Infrastructure, Environment and Circular Economy and Finance (see report for ETCC on 15 11 2023). Five key considerations were evaluated:

A) The heritage value of the windmills,

B)   Current arrangements for managing the windmills,

C)   The potential for divestment of the windmills,

D)   The potential for alternative uses for the windmills,

E)    KCC’s current financial situation


Divestment of each of the eight sites was identified as the most financially advantageous option for KCC.


Divestment of the windmills would be a change to the policy set out in the adopted Heritage Conservation Strategy. As the Heritage Conservation Strategy was adopted following a public consultation, a public consultation is required in advance of a final decision on the change in policy. Agreement was given at a meeting of the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 15th November 2023 that this public consultation should go ahead.


The subsequent public consultation ran for nine weeks from 28th November 2023 to 29th January 2024. On the proposal to amend the windmill policy section of the Strategy. There were 2,330 responses to the consultation. 11% of respondents agree in principle with KCC’s proposal to find alternative arrangements for the ownership and/or financial responsibility for KCC owned windmills and 87% of respondents disagree (79% strongly disagree).


Options considered:


Option 1: Do nothing and retain ownership of the windmills. This option does not reduce the cost to KCC of maintaining the windmills. Option rejected.


Option 2: Retain the windmills but look to reduce the financial input from KCC. No new proposals for how this might be achieved came forward through the consultation process and the deliverability of this is unclear. It is likely that more options would be available to a trust or similar body than to KCC. Option Rejected


Option 3: Recommended Option - KCC divests itself of the windmills. Officers are proposing to explore the most effective way to divest, based on the local circumstances of each windmill, and mitigating as far as possible the concerns raised during the consultation and the unique character of each windmill. The consideration of divestment options would be subject to feasibility and alignment with KCC’s objectives, KCC’s Property Assets Disposal Policy where applicable and KCC’s Heritage Conservation Strategy. There will be small-scale costs associated with obtaining legal and other professional advice as divestment options are explored.


How the proposed decision supports Framing Kent's Future


The proposed decision aligns with the Strategic Statement by aiming to reduce KCC’s financial burden and at the same time meeting the commitment under Priority 3 to consider Kent’s environment as a core asset that is valued, strengthened, and protected.


How the proposed decision supports Securing Kent’s Future 2022 -2026:


The proposed decision is compliant with the Strategic Statement in that it aims to reduce KCC’s financial expenditure whilst meeting the strategic priority of protecting, valuing, and strengthening Kent’s environment.


Financial Implications


The total annual revenue budget within the service and Corporate Landlord amounted to £236,800 in 2022/23 which was inclusive of a £200,000 annual revenue contribution to capital outlay (RCCO); this RCCO reduces to £150,000 in 24/25. It should be noted that the 2022/23 revenue outturn includes £13,143 for marketing advice, valuations and legal costs associated with this project that do not form part of the normal running costs or budgets of windmills.


Expected capital costs in the next five years for essential safety related works at the windmills which would be funded through the RCCO are shown below:
















In the long term if all the windmills were divested there would be savings to the revenue budget of between approximately £124,000 and £220,000 per annum if the windmills which still require urgent work were divested without the work being undertaken.


Decision type: Key

Decision status: For Determination

Notice of proposed decision first published: 02/07/2024

Decision due: Not before 31st Jul 2024 by Cabinet Member for Environment
Reason: To allow 28 day notice period required under Executive Decision regulations

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Environment

Lead director: Matthew Smyth

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: Lis Dyson, Heritage Conservation Manager Email: Email:


Public Consultation:

A public consultation on the proposed change in windmills policy has been undertaken: Windmills owned by KCC | Let’s talk Kent. The Consultation written report will be published shortly.


Cabinet Committee:

The proposed decision will be considered by the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 9th July 2024

Financial implications: Please see detail above

Legal implications: There are legal implications in relation to the two windmills which have long term leases, one windmill which has a restrictive covenant and in relation to creating a trust or similar body which will be investigated further.

Equalities implications: Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment will be prepared relevant to the divestment option(s) that are progressed. Data Protection implications: This project does not require the processing of any personal data and therefore falls outside of the remit of the DPIA requirements.