Saturday, 24 October 2009

Royal Sands Development Ramsgate

It is important understand that in terms of Ramsgate this development is not like any other in recent years, both because of its size and position.

The only other comparable development on Ramsgate’s prime foreshore of comparative size is Ramsgate harbour, because of this the development will have a considerable impact on Ramsgate throughout this century.

We are now at the fifth crunch time with this prime site and the last twelve years. By this I mean after it closed as an amusement arcade the first crunch was it was to open as a factory outlet in the existing building in 1997. Second crunch was the Whitbread development to be built by the contractor Featherstone Construction that failed in 2002. The third crunch was the very high development to be built by contractor Robert Leonard Group Plc, they pulled out in 2005 after doing a certain amount of boarding up of the site and not much else. The fourth crunch was even more surreal Contractor Knight Developments told everyone on several occasions that the start of building work was imminent, this was despite knowing that the cliff needed repairing first, what they did do though was the last lot of roadworks down there, what amazed me was that they did them despite knowing that the Environment Agency had strongly recommended a flood risk assessment before any work commenced. Knights pulled out somewhere early in 2008, leaving the site pretty much as it is now.

Now we have a new contractor Cardy Construction and new and different plans from previous ones. For about the last year I have tried to engage them in some sort of dialogue in the hope that at last, of some sort of safe and viable development. My main objective being to warn them of the previous contractors pitfalls and get them to proceed in a way that may finally lead somewhere, in this I would say I have had a modicum of success but my patience is wearing thin.

My main gripe with them is that I have failed so far to get them to engage in any sort of way with the people of Ramsgate, by this I mean using the usual forms of communication to tell us what is going on and to endeavour to take the people of the town with them with a project that will be broadly acceptable.

The type of public engagement I have been asking for is for occasional drop in sessions in Ramsgate, say in Albion house or some other venue where plans, artists impressions and samples of the building materials would be on display and local people could ask questions about the development and some sort of web presence, at the moment there is nothing on the contractors website http://www.cardyconstruction.co.uk/ and nothing that I can find on the council’s website http://www.thanet.gov.uk/system_pages/search.aspx?terms=pleasurama and http://www.thanet.gov.uk/system_pages/search.aspx?terms=royal+sands

At the moment the only source of information about this project is on a few local websites and blogs, something I find inadequate in view of the scale and location of the project.

Now we come the problem with this blog and how it relates to the development, by this I mean that my concerns about the sort of development we are going to get in terms how it looks and how it functions have been overshadowed by my concerns about safety.

Most people I speak to assume that these concerns of mine will all be covered by the various types of building legislation and are far more concerned about what the development will look like and how it will effect the view from the cliff top.

I believe the greatest concerns here are to do with the roofs of the new development, right next to the conservation area on the cliff top, these roofs are huge and around the level of the cliff top.

I say around as I have reason to suspect both the architect’s competence and the planning departments ability check on the height.

By way of example this link takes you to one of my surreal correspondences with the planning department about the height http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/pleasurama_update.htm at the bottom of the page you will find an email from the planning department conceding that the section AA is taller than the elevation where it intersects section AA, by this I mean that had the building been built to this particular set of plans, it would like the Tardis have been bigger on the inside than on the outside.

Anyway sticking with section AA for a moment, this section is shown on all of the plans including the latest ones that Cardys intend to build to, a very pertinent point here being that at here the font edge of the roof of the building that you will be peering over the top of is 160 feet away from you, which is a lot of roof to peer over.

Now at the previous public drop in session at Albion house, years ago now when the proposed roof was to have been made of corrugated tin (like a factory unit roof) quite a few local people didn’t like this idea.

We then went through a period of time when it was explained that this roof would be changed to a planted (sedum) roof and to it would look quite attractive.

Now the word is that this would be impractical because seagulls would nest in it, so the roof is to be made of what looks like grey ribbed rubber, rather as though the architect has been inspired by a contraceptive device.

I suppose his remit was to design a block of condominiums so one way or another there may be some sort of logic at work here.

Anyway back to my patience wearing thin, I tried as I know others did to get temporary use of the site for leisure for last summer and was told that the contractor needed the site as they would be working on it. No work happened and this prime site was wasted for the summer season, much to the detriment of Ramsgate’s economy during a time when other seaside towns benefited considerably from people holidaying in the UK because of the recession.

I tried throughout the last year, with both Cardys and the council to get them to engage in some sort of dialogue with the people of Ramsgate, I got assurances from the planning department that Cardys would renew the promised consultation process.

I think probably what has brought my patience here to an end is the new boarding, not because it is unreasonable to enlarge the boarded up area but because it is unreasonable to do this without informing local residents.

There were not even any signs notifying us of the loss of half of the promenade, nothing on the councils planning website either, now ordinary people if they want to close part of any public pedestrian route have give public notice and get council permission.

What worries me here is that someone here feels that they are above the law, something I find particularly worrying because aspects of the planning application don’t make sense.

I will add to this one as time permits......

24 comments:

  1. "My main objective being to warn them of the previous contractors pitfalls and get them to proceed in a way that may finally lead somewhere, in this I would say I have had a modicum of success but my patience is wearing thin."

    Michael, you're way above your station, and damned arrogant to think you know more than Cardy Construction.

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  2. to annonymouse above,

    And what pray do you know about,if anything? You appear to have a nanny knows best approach to this matter. Your faith in authority is quaint.

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  3. To JH above - there's no 'e' in 'anonymous', and thanks for the short sermon on my integrity.

    I was commenting on something I had read, whereas you are commenting on something you have absolutely no knowledge of.

    Speaks for itself really!

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  4. to annonymousee above,

    You feel free to comment on Michael's integrity but resent it when others appear to do the same to you. I find that curious. As far as I know, your integrity remains intact. It is your opinion that amazes me. Do you always give authority carte blanche to do as they wish with you, in the mistaken belief that they always know best? On the other hand, perhaps you are the authority and truly believe that you do know best?

    You say that you are commenting on something that you had read. Please tell us about.

    I am confused, what do you imagine "Speaks for itself really!".

    PS. You are correct to point out that there is no 'e' anonymous. But you failed to spot the additional 'n' that I had included.
    The misspelling was quite deliberate on my part. Did you not spot that?

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  5. 23.45 I am sorry but your statement doesn’t make sense without some explanation about what it is that I do or don’t know, for instance Cardy Construction have consulted with me about aspects of the development, from which I infer I knew something they didn’t.

    There is nothing unusual in this sort of thing other firms have consulted with me over aspects of various major local projects, as an example Vattenfall consulted me over the routing of the supply cables from their windfarm project.

    The history of any site is an important aspect for any developer, with the Pleasurama site the history of its flooding and the tunnelling in the cliff that has weakened its infrastructure are important.

    Little things like that a car driver lost control and their car went over the cliff where the development will be, are also pertinent as the developer may wish to get the kerb raised there to prevent the development’s occupants from having unwanted cars coming through the roof.

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  6. Apologies if I didn't make it clear. I did take the trouble to copy, italicise and put in quotes what I was refering to. Perhaps you could do the same, because I'm not sure how you have drawn your conclusions about my opinion.

    It may interest you to know that I don't always give authority carte blanche to do as they wish with me. I am currently in quite a serious dispute with T.D.C.

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  7. to annonymouse,

    I would welcome your comments on Michael's post at 1105.

    I was referring to your comments and to those of Michael. Both of which I had read.

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  8. 11.27 etc it would be helpful to me if you could use a nickname, it won’t effect your anonymity but would help me from muddling you up with other commentators.

    It is obvious that you are a bright sort of person and familiar with blog posting, the fact that you were able to use italics made me assume you have your own website or blog, so I am having trouble quite understanding why you are having difficulty with what I am referring to.

    I would have thought your statement "damned arrogant to think you know more than Cardy Construction" was pretty all inclusive down to the price of meat.

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  9. the serious dispute being an argument about wearing no clothes

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  10. Michael,

    Whilst your commitment to the good people of Ramsgate should be commended, it should also be noted that you are an unelected representative and that the ultimate powers of decision relating to this project lie with those elected representatives sitting on the TDC planning committee, the district council, together with highly qualified planning officers and consultant engineers.

    Obviously you are fully entitled to your own opinions regarding this development but one would have to ask:-

    Where is your mandate from the people of Ramsgate?

    Are you acting in the best interests of the majority?

    Have you canvassed the people of Ramsgate or are your criticisms measured purely on your own lone opinions and those of your close circle of regular bloggers?

    Are your continuing criticisms and objections helpful to the majority, my guess is you wouldn’t know or care because you haven’t asked the majority?

    Is your objective ultimately to delay this project for another 12 years?

    Our elected representatives whether town, district or government are entrusted to make decision on our behalf and whilst we may not always agree with them, through the electoral process we have given them such powers. Have you undergone a similar process? I think not……………

    You make comments regarding how bothered you are that you have not been consulted, I would suggest that in order you continue to work for the good people of Ramsgate you start by consulting their opinions and publish the outcome on you site.

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  11. To the annonymouse at 1541hrs,

    Why are you so intent upon silencing Michael on this issue? Do you perhaps have a vested interest somewhere?

    Why are you in a "serious dispute" yourself with TDC on another matter? To pursue your own logic: surely the TDC as our elected representatives should make the decision for you. It is no business of yours to disagree with them. After all Nanny knows best.

    Still following your argument: please consult the good people of Ramsgate about your dispute with TDC. Is it really about your wearing no clothes? If I am to infer from this that you wish go naked in the street then I'm with the TDC. It would frighten the horses.

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  12. 15.41 First the electoral mandate, I was talking to our deputy mayor the other day who pointed out that although he had in fact received far more votes from the people of Ramsgate than any of the TDC councillors he was excluded from part of the TDC council the meeting about the Pleasurama development.

    As far as the views of the people of Ramsgate and Pleasurama go I do hear a fair amount of them, working as a shop assistant in the town as I do.

    I am wondering from your comment if you actually read this post or the other ones that I have put up over the last week, perhaps I could trouble you to do so.

    Anyway that said, were my criticisms not valid and by that I mean if the EA had not made recommendations that so far have been ignored, or if the professional report on the cliff face didn’t say that it has a short serviceable life and you have more up to date and conflicting professional information, you can always site it and present some sort of argument.

    You do seem to have missed my point that it is not failure to consult with me but failure to consult with the good people of Ramsgate that I am bothered about.

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  13. You seem to repeat " you`ve missed my point" on a number of occassion on your site, maybe you are also missing mine and other residents points.

    It would appear from your last comment that your mandate is based soley upon the fact that your a local trader and talk to your customers.....I rest my case.

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  14. On the matter of spelling.
    "occasion" is spelt with one "s" in the middle but should have had an additional one at the end.
    "solely" has two "l"s.
    and "your" should be spelt "you're"

    As far as Michael having a mandate from the people of Ramsgate, he has more supporters than you would imagine.

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  15. to annonymouse above at 1655,

    I for one am delighted to hear that you have rested your case.

    But I am sure that I am not alone in wishing to hear more about your "serious dispute" with TDC. Which you say is all about not wearing clothes. You should discuss this with the good people of Ramsgate. As you have encouraged Michael so to do.

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  16. JH and Michael - As there are now at least two anonymous contributors on this post who are not necessarily members of Michael's fan club, I've chosen the above nickname. I've no idea what it means but JH seems to like it!

    Michael, I assume from your comments in your 11.05 reply that when you refer to developers "consulting" you, this is about historical matters. You have a good selection of local history books in your shop and it makes perfect sense that they should come to you. However, the majority of your observations on this blog are regarding engineering matters about which you appear to have no formal qualifications. This is why I consider you arrogant to infer you know more than Cardy Construction. Of course, I concede that if Cardy Construction were consulting you over the price of meat (your 12.07 reply), you may well know more than they do!

    The reason I have commented on your post is the way in which you portray yourself as an expert on all thing connected with construction. This can easily fool people into thinking you're an authority and therefore influence their decisions.

    For any discussion forum to work properly the debate should be accurate, informed and balanced. As you're kind enough to allow comments on this blog, I hope you don't mind a few that don't agree with you - in the interests of a balanced debate of course.

    JH - you appear to be getting into an awful muddle here. Not only have you confused yourself about my opinions, you have also confused Annonymouse with Anonymous and drawn all sorts of weird conclusions about one of us riding naked in the street. To help you with this, Annonymouse is responsible for the Anonymous postings of 23.45, 09.47 & 11.27. All other Anonymous postings are anonymous. I hope you don't find this confusing as well!

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  17. To annonymouse at 2246,

    Does this mean that you will not in fact be riding through the streets naked?

    I thought you said that you had rested your case as far as Michael was concerned? Yet you are still blogging away.

    Your para 3: You appear to be contradicting yourself here. How could Michael fool your friends on TDC and at Cardy if they are the experts? You cannot have it both ways.

    It's all a bit of a muddle.

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  18. Concerned Ramsgate residentOctober 26, 2009 5:48 am

    Sounds like some of you shoould get out more and not spend so much time at your computers! I can only say that almost everything I have evr read on Michael's various blogs has always made sense - he thinks things through very carefully and argues his points very thoroughly - which as we can see from Thanet Strife's entry today is not always the case with the TDC planning committee. I have always suspected that there is some skulduggery going on over the Pleasurama site and that certain Thanet individuals are not declaring all their interests - after all no-one knows who SPK Ventures are. When TDC dropped the amount to 1 million recently before work could go ahead I suspected more skulduggery and have yet to be proved wrong.

    Keep it up Michael

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  19. As anyone who has had any building work done, the advice from trading standards and local councils is always use a developer that can demonstrate a track record of similar projects. Its a golden rule that no one with any sense would break. TV is littered with programmes on building disasters where no reference where taken up. So please tell me why TDC has not followed this basic rule? I know the builder has a track record but he is not the developer.

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  20. Annonymouse, thanks the nickname is a great help from my point of view and certainly I welcome comment that disagrees with me, I often seem to get involved in fairly complicated issues, the comments help to both clarify my thinking on them and highlight where I have expressed myself badly.

    I am afraid with the technical aspects I can only say that I consult with people who are experts, many of whom read this blog I believe if I get technical facts wrong the corrections would be fast and furious.

    The main problems with this site, flood risk and cliff collapse risk have to be addressed with a mixture of technical and historical information and really some knowledge of both to make the development safe in terms of acceptable risk.

    As an example with the flood risk it is both necessary to be able to evaluate the environment agency’s report and be aware of history of flooding on the site.

    The technical aspects I have of course discussed in detail with the experts employed by the council to look into the main safety issues and the historical aspects I have discussed with local historians.

    05.48 and 10.27 What I find so difficult about having an absentee developer is that no one is in overall control so it is impossible to find anyone to coordinate all of the different people concerned.

    With building a development between a cliff face and the sea, I don’t think anyone involved has any experience, apart from the environment agency expert that prepared the report recommending the flood risk assessment.

    I have done my best with my replies here however the bookshop is very busy today so pleas excuse any muddled thinking on my part.

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  21. JH – No, I will not be riding naked through the streets, that was something to do with Anonymous, not Annonymouse.

    Re: paragraph 3, I don’t have friends at T.D.C., I’m Annonymouse that has a dispute with T.D.C., not Anonymous. And by ‘people’ I meant ‘people’, not organizations (who usually employ experts). I know it’s confusing but stick with it and it may become clear.

    Concerned Ramsgate resident – I agree with you whole heartedly. Michael makes a very good argument. My point is that there may be other factors that he is not aware of that ‘experts’ should be. He should not portray himself as an expert because it can be misleading. Poor old JH can't work out who's who, let alone the validity of what they're saying.

    Keep it up Michael, but stick to what you know and beware of what you don’t know.

    P.S. Michael, just as a matter of curiosity could you tell me what aspect of the routing of supply cables from their windfarm project it was that Vattenfall consulted you over?

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  22. @Annonymouse 12:28 – If I remember correctly, Vattenfall asked generally if anyone had any knowledge or plans showing the distribution and make up of the reclaimed ground in Pegwell Bay. Presumably there were no official records available.

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  23. Most of this was done by phone and I am now a bit vague about it.

    Below is a copy of the email from them, after they rang me up I suggested among other things that they send me the text for a blog post about it post about it.

    I managed to get information for them from several sources on the location of the old town dump, as far as I remember.

    The technical problem being that the EA wouldn’t allow them to disturb contaminated land adjacent to an internationally acclaimed wetland.

    Michael

    Thank you very much for taking my telephone call.

    Thanet Offshore Wind would like to investigate the possibility of using the route of the cycle path that runs through the nature reserve at Pegwell Bay, as a cable route for the export cables from the offshore wind farm. The export cables at present are due to be buried under the A256 from the landfall at Pegwell Bay to the disused power station at Richborough.

    It was appreciated that the initial attempt of putting traffic controls on this road in October, in order to start the work caused traffic chaos and we would like to try and avoid a repetition.

    As the nature reserve was a landfill site, we would like to try and ascertain the extent of the landfill site and whether the present day cycle path passes over any of the old landfill areas, which would naturally cause problems with the cable burial.

    If anyone has any knowledge of the extent of the landfill site, or has any detailed maps we would be very interested to hear from them.

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  24. Thanks for that Michael. I'm surprised TDC or KCC didn't have the necessary information. On second thoughts, no I'm not surprised!

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