Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ramsgate Seafront Developments a bit of ramble

Having just phoned the architects for the slipway because their flood risk assessment just doesn’t make any sense, this is really case of time is running out to comment on the application and the flood risk assessment appears to have errors in it.

What is seems to be saying is something akin to the tallest person is four feet high, therefore we propose to build as house with all of the ceilings five feet high.

There are several examples of this in the document, here is one of them; it actually says on page eleven of the document is. “Spring tides can reach 5.4m above chart datum”.

This weeks tides see http://easytide.ukho.gov.uk/EasyTide/EasyTide/ShowPrediction.aspx?PortID=0102&PredictionLength=7 Thursday 5.4m, Friday 5.6, Saturday 5.7.

Now you would think that the architects would have something to say about this, some sort of explanation, but know it would seem that my only approach here is to use this as part of my grounds for objecting to the development.

Next door to this site is the pavilion and here they seem to be painting and filling the cracks in the outside, with no real reference to the problems inside the building.

Also this work seems to be going on without any thought to the flood protection, it would seem that a lot of money is to be spent on Margate’s flood protection, but nothing on Ramsgate’s.

I wonder if the council have read the wrong figures for a high tide in Ramsgate too, this is something that would explain quite a bit.

Over the road the building on the back of the Belgian Café is still proceeding with the windows about a metre lower that they should be according to the plans.

Back to my conversation with the architects for the slipway development, they really don’t seem to appreciate that what they are building is in fact a short pier and that the building of piers is a specialist business.

I asked about wave heights and the architect that I spoke to said that this wasn’t a problem with the Clock House, he didn’t seem to understand that the stone apron at the back of the Clock House dissipates the waves, something that doesn’t happen with a pier.

On to the Pleasurama site, all work seems to have stopped there now, understandable really now I know the sequence of events, which is.

Cardy Construction the people building the development started clearing the site about a month ago, this has exposed the bottom of the cliff wall, which frankly looks a bit dodgy.

I now know from the HSE that they expressed concerns about the cliff wall, foundations, weeds, cracks, strange damp patches and so on to the council.

The council reassured them saying that the cliff wall was perfectly safe and work continued.

Then a lump of it fell off that was big enough to kill someone below.

Now they have stopped work and left the site.

The HSE have now told me that they are going to send one of their construction engineers to visit the site.

During the war cliff maintenance, weed removal, keeping the drains clear and so on didn’t happen as people were busy fighting Hitler and after the war we had several cliff collapses in Ramsgate.

Once again and I don’t really know why cliff maintenance seems not be happening quite as it should, this is an example from another part of Ramsgate.
The picture above is of another blocked drain and illustrates what I mean about recent cliff maintenance about as clearly as I can.

The pictures below are of when this part of cliff in Ramsgate collapsed just agter the war.

The pictures apart from the one I took at the top, are courtesy of Margate Museum, click on them to enlarge them and click on them again to make them even bigger.
I should stress that this was only one of several cliff collapses in Ramsgate and that the most likely cause of them was poor maintenance.

The trouble is that once water has damaged the chalk cliff it stays damaged. It doesn’t really matter what is done to the cliff facades, it is the condition of the thousands of tons of chalk behind them that causes the problems.
In a natural state it is the sea undermines the chalk and the cliff steadily collapses at about the rate of a foot a year, so if man hadn’t intervened with sea defences then most of our famous cliff top buildings in Ramsgate would have already fallen into the sea.
I don’t fully understand the business of building foreshore and under cliff developments here in Thanet recently.

We had a spate of this mostly in Victorian times when either these were leisure buildings, most of which have now vanished, like Ramsgate and Margate piers or most of the other Thanet pavilions. Or they were major pieces of civil engineering integrated with the cliffs, like Westcliff Hall, The Winter Gardens or the arches in Ramsgate.
Now we seem to have a group of developers that only ever seem to have experience of building inland who seem to think that they can ignore the major civil engineering challenges posed by these sites and just build any old thing there.


  1. "this wasn't a problem for the Clock House" During my tenure (1985-2004)we experienced flooding in the museum undercroft on several 'above prediction' tides due to wave action. Mean tide level did not overtop the south wall but waves breaking against it rapidly cascaded down the steps and half filled the cellars. We learnt to live with it and it was, to be fair, only occasional.

    However, the undercrofts regularly flood on big springs anyway, with water percolating through the chalk. High Water in the museum undercroft (and in the 'dry' dock) is approximately 2hrs 15mins after high water in the harbour.

  2. tdc prefers to waste money on shiny new empty business parks, rather than look after is existing portfolio properly. The case of different buckets of money, and repairs to get your picture in the paper....cynic
    With reference to the tides the highest predicted is i think 5.6 or 5.7 but with the right (wrong) weather conditions that could increase by a metre. This is the figure that should appear in any flood risk assessments.

  3. Michael you tried to impress upon HSE the gravity of the situation.

    But gravity, acting as is its wont to accelerate a mass of detached terra firma downwards, seems to have eloquently concentrated HSE minds.

    Fortunately no one was hurt and it is safe to say that HSE found your reports clobber-rated.

  4. I rowed over the harbour Xwall in a dinghy in 1953 during the floods.


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