Friday, 23 January 2009

Albion House Plans

A friend of mine pointed out to me some problems with the plans for Albion House, they relate to putting a shop front on the side of it for access to the part of the building on the ground floor that is to be used for public functions and the Mayors parlour.

This means that when it is used for public occasions, wedding receptions or even something like a royal visit, entrance would be through a small door in a shop front on the side.

I am afraid this one rather slipped under the radar while I was involved with having the flue and Christmas, so I am uncertain if it is to late to object or not.

The planning application reference is L/TH/08/1377 click here to go to the council planning website.

Below are some thoughts that may be useful when framing an objection.

The building is a residence and is and always has been in a residential area.
Planning permission would not be given for a shop or a shop front in this position.

A shop front is not only inappropriate for the area but also as an indication of what it is: the entry to the Mayor’s Parlour, the Secretary’s Office and Assembly Rooms of the town of Ramsgate. It detracts from the purpose of the building and from its architectural and historic integrity.

If this is to be used for special civic occasions or for private hire such as a wedding or for a fund raising event, functions which would raise money for the upkeep of the premises, entry through a shop front is not a very strong selling point nor good marketing strategy in selling the building as a block of expensive, top line apartments.

However, the plans for the installation of new access and shop front within side elevation have failed to take into account the heavy use of this entry to the Council Chamber by the general public.

Large numbers of people of all ages attend functions in the Council Chamber.

The building stands in a prominent position in a residential area overlooking Ramsgate Sands. It is clearly seen in the picture of that name by W.P. Frith and bought by Queen Victoria; it is still in the Royal collection.

Albion House was used as a holiday residence by the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria and later for Royal visitors such as Leopold of Belgium on their way to or from the continent via the Port of Ramsgate.

It has more recently been used as Council offices; the Ballroom has long been used as the Council Chamber. The mayor of Ramsgate’s parlour is still there.

There was a public outcry when the Council tried to turn the whole building into apartments. A compromise was reached with the town retaining the Mayor’s Parlour and Council Chamber for communal use. Meetings are held there regularly.

The application to make the entrance to the public parts via a shop front degrades this building. The proposals are lacking in any sensitivity for the area, the purpose of the building, or its architectural and historic significance.


  1. Michael, I was at the CT meeting. I reckon its a good idea. Why do we have to have a useless town council?

  2. Hi Michael where is the acsess for my wheelchair ? Don

  3. Michael,
    Although most of the reasons you have listed are good ones they are not valid planning reasons for turning it down it has to be something like 'not in keeping with the character of the surrounding area' I also suspect that given the location there would be serious Highways issues here as well given the blind bend in the road and it more or less being on the corner of Cottage Road as well.
    one of the reasons that TDC want shot of the place is that they are reluctant to spend any money on making it DDA compliant so simplistic solution is get rid of it and its not our problem,,that hasnt worked either.
    On the subject of the Councils Asset Disposal programme designed to bring in some capital receipts to spend other things so far they have managed to raise the magnificant sum of err, erm, err,,
    So another glorious failure!!

  4. Another example of another botch-up by TDC. A half-baked solution will not work. Either sell the building outright or keep it intact. The first floor with a repaired balcony would make a super wedding venue and the floors above could become accommodation for the immediate family members. As it stands the current accomodation for the mayor of Ramsgate and their secretary is sub-standard and not really suitable for civic receptions let alone weddings. Half the attraction of the venue however is its super location and the view as you stand on the entrance steps. Do they really expect everyone to traipse through a sort of tradesmen's entrance in future.Don is of course right too - the building is not currently DDA compliant but unless money is spent on this building and soon it will not be fit for purpose for anything. Why are TDC so short-sighted? To revive our tourist industry we need to restore and revamp our heriateg not destroy it.

  5. OOps - last line should read "heritage" of course

  6. this ugly old building needs a small thermo nuclear device to improve it. if we saved all our old buildings we would be living in mud huts

  7. Mike I would have thought that a shop front there would be a reasonable planning objection, after all do you think I would get permission for a shop front say in Wellington Crescent or facing onto Albion Gardens?

    That said as you obviously agree with most of what I have said, perhaps you could help frame a valid objection.

    It is obviously quite the wrong time to dispose of assets, any sold would be at a knockdown price, this is very much the time to try and do the best with what we have, hoping the low pound will attract some tourism.

    Millicent I am afraid years of neglecting the council owned properties and infrastructure in Ramsgate has left us with more pressing public safety issues than aesthetic ones. With Albion House I am told there is a very real danger of the balconies collapsing. Some of the cliff face supporting structures are also in what appears to be a dangerous state.

    I don’t believe that the council have the money to resolve these issues without business funded development projects financing them in the long to medium term, in the short term and I mean probably the next 18 months I think there is little chance of this without loan guarantees.

    With problems like Albion House there may be some grant funding available, hopefully the new town council will prioritise obtaining grant funding for Ramsgate projects.


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