Friday, 30 March 2012

Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama Site Ramsgate Update.

The decision about development agreement by Thanet District Council Yesterday was deferred to an extraordinary cabinet meeting on 5th April, and I have received an email asking some questions about the development from Allan Poole who is the cabinet member handling this issue.




 Here his response in red.

Hi Michael,



I have spoken with our engineer about your concerns.



He says the points raised by you are not new and that many of the statements made are not an accurate account of actual events. He points out that you say you instigated the HSE intervention which resulted in emergency repairs and a safety cordon.  This is certainly not the case. The HSE viewed the cliff condition report and found no reason to take action or make recommendations.



He points out that there is no comparison between the Northern Sea Wall failure in 1953 and the sea wall at Ramsgate.  These are quite different types of construction and are subject to very different conditions, it is therefore not possible to make such a comparison or suggest that a similar failure would occur without any meaningful evidence to support the claim.  You are correct in that TDC do not hold drawings of the 1860 sea wall at Ramsgate but this is to be expected given the age of the structure.  There is however nothing to suggest that the wall is inadequately constructed.  It also enjoys the protection afforded by the wide sandy beach which stops it from being subjected to regular wave energy (which is the normal mechanism by which a sea wall's condition deteriorates).



Any design changes to the foundations for the development would have been checked by the company undertaking the building regulations work.  It would be surprising if the building is to be founded directly on sand, although this alone does not mean the foundations are inadequate.



You first started making enquiries about the cliff facade wall and site several years ago and claimed that the facade had inadequate foundations and had been undermined by excavation undertaken as part of the development work, these claims was investigated and found to be incorrect.



Yes the cliff facade is only a facing and not a retaining/supporting structure, but you have rather missed the point of a facing structure which is to protect the cliff from weathering to preserve its condition.



The need for a flood risk assessment was discussed with the Environment Agency at the time of the application.



I hope this clarifies most of your points.



Regards,



Alan


I have done my best to answer the issues he has raised below my reply in blue.

Hi Allan many thanks for taking the trouble to look into this issue, my main concern was that because of the secrecy surrounding every aspect of this development there could be some disparity between the information available to cabinet members and real events.

As you are probably aware I have put the majority of my information about The Royal Sands or Pleasurama Development on the internet, so it has been in the public domain since events occurred, and so there has been plenty of opportunity to refute any of this information.

I think the best road to go down here is for me to give you my version and anything that doesn’t make sense to you I will provide the substantiating evidence, emails between me and the HSE, council officers, Jacobs, the various contractors, The Environment Agency and so on.

I will include some links to relevant information that I have published online, although in most cases I have removed the names of the individuals involved.

Starting with the cliff façade, image 1 makes this easier to understand.

Yellow portals I would guess this bit was built between 1940 and 1950

Green arches built I think in the 1930s

Purple brick built in the 1860s

Starting with the purple bit, this was built in 1860 as part of the tunnel entrance about half of it collapsed in the 1960s and the bit between the two pillars had the bottom exposed recently and the front bit which you could see doesn’t extend down to solid chalk, photo if you want.

This is half in and half out of the site and wasn’t surveyed or repaired when the rest of it was.

The sequence of events with this was; we had a lot of heavy rain in the autumn of 2010 and because the drain on top is blocked, the surface of the thing became very wet and some came lose so it was hanging partly over the public highway and partly over the people working on the site below.

I reported it to the council’s engineer who said it was safe.

I reported it to HSE who told me they had contacted the council’s engineer, who said it was safe.

The following weekend a lump weighing about 70 kilos fell off it from the height of about forty feet, it would certainly killed or injured anyone underneath.

After this the council removed the lose bits and the vegetation growing out of the façade and put a safety fence below the cliff on the public highway side.


Onto the green bit, the council sent me the HSE and Cardys the wrong plans for this, actually this whole part of the cliff façade is cast concrete has deep foundations and seems to me to be pretty sound, but the plans they sent showed a similar arched façade from a different part of the town, which had shallow foundations and concrete blocks between them.

When Cardys started digging away at the base of it I made a lot of fuss as I genuinely think had the façade been designed to the plans the council sent me, there would have been some sort of accident.

In the end I found the correct plans, there were a lot of emails and phone calls about this, including one from Cardys asking me for the plans.

Personally I think the HSE and the council should have taken the precautionary measure of closing the cliff top footpath while they worked out what was wrong, particularly as there was no dispute about the plan showing the shallow foundations and block infill being the right one at the time.

Anyway as soon as I discovered the error with the planning sheet I took the path of least resistance and apologised to everyone involved for making a fuss.

Next up the yellow bit, the correspondence about this area is extensive and goes back to when the scaffolding was erected for the major cliff façade repairs, which exposed the bottom of the cliff façade.

This showed that there was nothing underneath parts of it and so I contacted Jacobs geotechnical engineer who wrote the survey report http://www.thanetonline.com/cliff/id2.htm he assured me that there was a continuous 2 metre thick concrete foundation under it. I went on site and poked a stick under it, he then conceded that part of it had no foundation. I have this exchange in writing if you want it. Since then I have been trying hard to get the council to survey the façade foundations as well as the façade that was exposed in 2005 that has already been surveyed.

Shortly after the main contract was completed I did point out a defect and the council eventually conceded that it was serious and spent £22,000 on rectifying it.

It is this part of the façade, the yellow bit on the picture that deteriorated rapidly after the £1,000,000 repair job, I would have to check the figures but I think SFP contributed 10% towards this and the rest was funded by TDC. I say this as obviously TDC officers and the TDC employed consultants supervised this work and should it prove defective it wouldn’t reflect well on them.

I discussed this part of the façade with Cardys and sent them the emails between me and Jacobs. So Cardys did what I assume was a preliminary examination of this part of the façade, see http://www.thanetonline.com/cliff/index.htm they examined some of the infills and dug out only one of the buttress foundations. Make no mistake here “Made up Ground” means a pile of muddy earth and chalk.

After this I asked them why they hadn’t continued and examined the other foundations and they said that the council had assured them that the façade was sound so they were working on the council’s assurance.

Next is the issue with the weight limit topside, the instruction for this comes from Jacobs and I have had promises that it will be instigated from the council’s engineer, so I don’t think there is any dispute that allowing heavy vehicles on the edge of the cliff is dangerous. Several incidences of this have occurred and the promises date back for years.

My understanding from the email I received from the HSE is that the program of regular cliff inspections was required by them as result of the concerns I raised.

That said I am not saying that the cliff is dangerous, all I am asking for is a thorough survey of the façade, including the foundations, that is independent of the people who supervised the £1m contract to stabilise it.

On now to the flood risk assessment.

The Environment Agency’s letter to the council about this is published at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/id2.htm and at the time I thought “we would highly recommend that a full FRA is undertaken” was pretty clear.

However on discussing this with council officers inferences were made that the EA Technical Specialist was wrong in some way, had exaggerated the issue. Personally I concluded this was because the engineer involved was female, (at that time we hadn’t had the experience locally of a female engineer successfully demolishing a power station with high explosives) if you have any other idea as to why the council officers would ignore the recommendation of the EA’s technical specialist I would be interested to hear it.

Some time later I learned that Roger Gale and Laura Sandys were meeting with the most senior EA officers in the southeast, and so in view of this I asked them to check the EA’s position and get it again in writing, I think I best quote from Laura’s email, I don’t want to be responsible for any inter party misunderstandings:

“The Pleasurama development gained planning consent prior to the publication of the latest government guidance on development and flood risk, PPS25. When we were consulted in 2003 our floodplain maps did not show the site to be at risk and the design, at that stage, had clear evacuation routes to the the top of the cliff. But, having received revised plans for the development last year, we highlighted our concern over flood risk and recommended that a site-specific flood risk assessment be undertaken. This would inform appropriate mitigation measures such as recommended floor levels, flood resilient design and an evacuation plan to ensure that the development is made as safe as possible.”

On to the sea wall, this was built in 1860 as part of the railway extension from Herne Bay, aspects of the civil engineering related to this are the subject of historical record.

In the first instance several of the bridges were condemned by the governments inspector and lead to the opening of the railway being delayed.

There were several accidents at Ramsgate, some fatal, which were probably due to the incline being too close to the roundabout.

The Northern Sea Wall Failure in the 50s, which you mention.

The collapse of the tunnel entrance in the 60s.

The 1953 storm was associated with a northerly wind i.e. blowing the sea away from Ramsgate, the only recorded incidence I am aware of in that storm was that a ten ton crane that had been working on the beach was thrown by the sea into the middle of where the development will be.

Certainly there was no significant damage to the harbour, however a much less severe storm with a different wind direction in 1978 did damage the harbour wall, see image 2

Another mitigating feature is indeed the large sand beach, this doesn’t appear to caused by the lee of the harbour as all of the pre 1914 photographs show no build up of sand in front of the site. My understanding is that this large build up of sand was caused by the defences for both world wars.

The majority of this sand was used for infill when Port Ramsgate was built and since then the amount of sand there has been much less and of variable amount.

I don’t think there is any question that the foundations, already constructed, are entirely founded on the sand that forms part of the beach, plenty of emails about this between me and the contractor and plenty of photos of the construction.

As no plans of the 1860 sea wall exist it would be difficult for me to guess what its structural integrity would be or how it would fare in a large storm with the wind in a different direction. I am however certain from my correspondence with the contractor that there was no awareness that there was anything other that a solid modern sea defence in front of the development, when the shallow foundation on sand was designed. I have his email thanking me for drawing the uncertainties regarding the sea wall to his attention and promising to draw it to the attention of the designers of the foundations, this is dated after the foundations had been completed to the stage they are now.

Once again though I am not saying that this combined information means that the development is dangerous, what I am asking for is a survey of the sea wall and flood risk assessment.
Best regards Michael

66 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Before you or any of your readers start drawing conclusions, it is purely coincidental that many of the comments in the email from Allan Poole appear to correlate with my observations in replies to your post dated FRIDAY, 23 MARCH 2012. I have no connection whatsoever with TDC, Allan Poole or anyone else involved in the development. It is reassuring however to know that I’m not the only one who doesn't blindly follow your lead, and even more reassuring to know that the comments in the email come from professional people who should be in possession of fact.

    In your online response to the email there are more inaccuracies which I will try and find time to draw attention to if nobody else bothers.

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    1. RP I am afraid to say that once again your comment was spammed by Google, as the previous one you left was spammed after it had been published for some time, please accept that this is something I have no control about and I will restore your comments as soon as I notice they have been spammed.

      In the past Allan Poole has commented under his own name and I doubt he would wish to hide his identity with this issue. Some time ago we had a considerable dialogue about grammar schools, something we disagree about, now all lost somewhere amongst the 2,000 old posts on this blog.

      I must apologise if there are errors in my response, I have to admit that it has been a busy day and in view of the timing of the next meeting I wanted to reply as soon as possible.

      Any corrections would be gratefully received, it is a complex issue spanning ten years with considerable room for error, I for instance forgot to mention that the safety fence that the council put up after the masonry fell off is still there.

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  2. Michael, it’s getting near bedtime so I’ll be brief. First, thank you for keep publishing my comments after they’ve been spammed. Your blog would be pointless if you restricted adverse comment, so thank you for that.

    It’s a little difficult to follow exactly which parts of the plan you’re talking about, but I assume the brick pillars in the purple section are the original large brick structures either side of the railway tunnel entrance. If my assumption is correct, I have seen the original plans for these pillars which clearly show foundations extending at least 16 feet below ground level. I assume you have also seen the plan. I would guess this is down to solid chalk but I stress that it is only a guess as I don't think it was specifically shown. I’m not familiar with the section you say doesn’t extend down to solid chalk.

    Moving on to the 1953 storm, you appear to be under the impression that a northerly wind blows away from Ramsgate Harbour. In fact a northerly wind blows FROM the north and as such passes over several thousands of miles of the North Sea before it arrives at Ramsgate.

    The harbour wall faces approximately north east and you can draw an uninterrupted line at 31 degrees north which extends some 650 miles to Oslo roughly in line with tidal flows, giving the sea plenty of time to build up wave energy as a northerly wind passes over.

    The sea wall in front of Royal Sands faces approximately south east towards Dunkirk. An onshore wind to this sea defence would only pass over 40 miles of the English Channel and across the tidal flow.

    I think you will agree that a northerly wind has a far greater potential for damaging the harbour wall than an onshore wind coming across the Channel would have on the sea wall in front of the Royal Sands. Surely, also, any wave action caused by a northerly wind would lose energy in changing direction before hitting the south east facing sea wall. I don’t understand how any of this supports you argument about the inadequacy of the sea wall.

    I must stress that these are merely the observations of a layman based on a lifetime of living in Ramsgate, and an education that taught useful and interesting things rather than a curriculum.

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    1. RP comment in the spam again, but bizarrely making the comment counter count, I am up against the peculiarities of google myself at the moment as a friend of mine has book with excerpts on googlebooks.com which I can’t view from the uk.

      No I haven’t seen the plans for the brick pillars but know they supported a pedestrian bridge, all a bit odd as you could walk around the side of the bridge to get to the other end. It is the bit between the pillars that looks like it is resting on made up ground and that the masonry fell off.

      I would guess that the 16 feet is to the solid chalk the distance sounds about right, I would also guess that they looked at this structure carefully when the rest of it collapsed in the 60s and if the surface and drainage above had been properly maintained it would be as good now as it was then.

      The whole business of wave height is a complex one, the factors involved are pretty roughly, wind velocity, storm duration, fetch which is the distance across the water and the depth of water. The main mitigating factor with the Royal Sands being depth of water. Very roughly indeed, your 16 feet down to the chalk seabed would mean that before the sand was laid down you couldn’t get a wave higher than 16 feet at the bottom of the cliff where the brick pillar is now.

      I did cover some aspects of this at http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/how-high-is-high-tide-at-ramsgate.html which may interest you. In the cases of both the harbour wall and the sea defence the chalk bedrock is approximately at the same level and it is this which is going to be the main regulating factor in a big storm, not the fetch.

      In practice the wind direction varies as a storm passes over us because weather systems are circular. All of these very complex interrelated factors is why they base flood risk assessments partly on models, Wallingfords are the main people for this in the UK and a fra done by them would probably pay off in terms of insurance premiums many times over during the life of the development.

      A factor here on the flood risk front is that assuming this development is going ahead, it needs to viable so that people can finance buying the apartments, as since the plans were first approved the site has been re designated 3a high probability, one of the things a mortgage company will look for is the flood risk assessment.

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  3. Allan Poole Clearly disagrees with Michael. However, he does so in a polite manner and under his own name. For what it's worth this earns my respect.

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    1. John missed your comment here, I have to say I am interested in the way the Labour cabinet are performing.

      I think it is more a case of he is doing his job properly in questioning officers and responding to me with their replies, something I respect and is very helpful.

      In the past getting information from officers, through the proper channels, about this development, has taken me anything between a fortnight and about a year.

      What is so strange to me is that information about something so large and prominent should be so secret.

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  4. John Holyer: A very interesting contribution to the debate! Personally I judge replies by their content, not who wrote them. Some of us have busy lives beyond this blog and prefer to keep the various aspects of our lives separate.

    Michael: I should give up trying to understand Google. Sometimes I don’t think they understand their selves.

    Thank you for explaining the forces of nature but I do understand a certain amount about the weather and its effects as I have studied meteorology. In your explanation you forgot to mention the main causes of damage in the 1953 storm. These were the effects of a strong spring tide surging northward with storm force winds blowing in the opposite direction. The friction of the wind on the water blocked the natural northward flow which led to a higher than usual tide. The causes of the 1953 storm are well documented and I don’t want anyone to assume I am claiming this analysis as my own. Even though I understand it I am not qualified to make such a judgement.

    With regard to Royal Sands, assuming your claim that the height of the bedrock is the regulating factor in a big storm, how is it that the same sea wall in front of the Granville Marina is still intact after some 150 years? There is very little if any beach to mitigate the effects of wave height in this area as the water reaches the wall soon after low tide.

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  5. The trouble with understanding storm damage is the infrequency of bad storms, a one in 50 year storm, is not as bad as a one in one hundred year storm, which is also not as bad as a one in two hundred year storm. There are not many people living who would remember the 100year storm and nobody the 200year storm.

    It therefore follows that sometime in the next fifty years we are likely to encounter a storm worse than 1953,tidal surge,tidal flow, tide times and wave height can all coincide to make a worse storm than 1953, we should not be complacent because nothing has happened in our lifetime,SO FAR!

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    1. Ken, I have hesitated to mention the business of rising sea levels, which are of course the reason for the incline downwards of the seabed as it moves away from the sea here, and has been happening since the last ice age. That of course was an over simplification, so I await correction.

      But at the moment the consensus of opinion is that as global warming increases the storms will get worse and the sea level increase more rapidly. As the 1897 storm flattened everything down there apart from the concrete station, this isn’t a new problem.

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    2. Ramsgate PersonMarch 31, 2012 7:55 pm

      Was the sea wall flattened as well Michael? I wasn't around for that storm.

      It looks as though it would be prudent to put any construction work on hold for the next few hundred years until we know just how high the sea will get!

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    3. RP as far as I know the sea wall in front of Granville Marina was built in 1877 by J T Wimperis and consisted of a wall of stone blocks. Over the years this was replaced at different times by cast concrete, there hasn’t been any reason for me to examine this in detail as it poses no particular risk and is in good well maintained condition

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    4. On that basis it might not be unreasonable to assume that anytime now we could suffer a large meteor strike, not unlike the poor old dinosaurs, so on that basis perhaps we should build nothing. As for our stupid American cousins still building along their eastern sea coast when we all know that a large chunk of the Canary Isle is imminently going to plunge into the sea sending a huge tsunami gathering height and speed as it goes towards the US of A. Add the risks of rising sea levels, a nuclear winter, Iran with bomb, North Korea having long range ICBMs and Milliband as PM and I think it is time to take that little black capsule.

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    5. Tom a difficult one this, there are aspects of the council’s engineer’s reply, like moving the bit of cliff – the one with the brick pillars each side – out of the site completely, that worry me.

      Obviously we all risk our lives crossing the road, but at least expect the engineering community to ensure that road vehicles are able to stop when we walk out in front of them.

      In this case I am saying something akin to I think there may be a problem with one of the four wheels and the council’s engineer is saying something akin to the car only has three wheels, the wheel I talking about being elsewhere.

      Here in Ramsgate everyone can see which part of the cliff is in the building site, or that the car has four wheels.

      Now I have chatted with you before so I know you are pretty smart, so will be interested in what you have to say, particularly on whether we should have a cliff survey and flood risk assessment, or sort of carry on regardless.

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    6. Michael, thanks for the compliment but I cannot be that smart or, looking round at our sad and morally devoid world, I would have taken the little black capsule a long time ago.

      Seriously though, I just find it hard to credit that after all this time, considerable investment and the ongoing support of the council and its officers, nobody has considered the problems you highlight. I have also seen many quite credible responses to your queries from those in authority or a position to know and sometimes wonder what it will take to finally convince you that all is well. After all, there are already buildings further along from the site that have seemingly survived the dual risks of avalanche and flooding for many years. As a kid I often took advantage of the rides in Merrie England and was never struck by a falling cliff or swept off the carousel by a tidal wave. Surely that was in the same spot.

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    7. Tom there is a sense here where you have answered your own question, council spends £1m on filling the cracks and painting the cliff wall, council engineer supervises and signs off job. Almost immediately after this new cracks appear, I make so much fuss about one bit because it is so evidently dangerous, council spend another £22,000 patching it up, another bit comes lose, I contact engineer and warn him, he says it is safe, lump falls off, council repair cliff, don’t include cost in accounts and say they haven’t repaired it again, pictures if you want.

      I ask for independent survey, council say it doesn’t need one.

      Evidently you aren’t old enough to remember the last cliff collapse there, 20,000 tons flattened one of the arcades I think it was 1967 but would have to check, pictures and newspaper articles if you want. Nasty for the fire crew involved and it took ages as they didn’t know if anyone was buried underneath and then they surveyed the cliff got the concrete halfway up and it all collapsed again, one thing about thousands of tons of chalk is that it tends to go where it wants.

      The other buildings along the cliff, No1 Granville Marina recently rebuilt, pile bored, flood risk assessment, behind a modern good condition sea defence. The rest of Granville marina, part of an arched cliff support structure as the engineer says above the cliff wall behind the site isn’t a cliff support structure (this translates into unsupported chalk cliff), good modern sea defence too.

      Anyway as I have said over and over I am not saying it is dangerous, just that I want the cliff and sea defence assessed.

      Having tired of answering this form an engineering point of view I will answer the one about the sea defence biblically for a change. All of the foundations they have built so far are on sand, the engineer in his response to Allan above admits the sea defence is 150 years old and he hasn’t even got the plans to show how it was built, let alone holds any maintenance plans but he says this is ok because it is protected by sand.

      Incidentally the last big tidal wave to hit Merrie England left a ten to crane in its wake that it had swept off the beach.

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    8. Michael you old flatterer, first I am smart and now not old enough to rember the 1967 cliff fall. Actually I don't but that is more to do with being in some far flung place serving HM than lack of age.

      Obviously you have your concerns, but I still find it hard to belief that anyone would risk such an investment without looking into the site properly first. Nor do I think the appropriate officers in the local council would be so remiss as to recommend planning approval without due research.

      As to the sand base, well the pyramids seem to have lasted a fair while.

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    9. For 'rember' read 'remember' - perhaps a sign of age, who knows!

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    10. Tom glad to know you are smart, but am on firmer ground about your age now, there is an element of particle physics here where you can’t measure the time if you can measure the place and vice versa. I was saying to my son that one has to do this particular experiment in the lab to believe it.

      Actually despite the various comments suggesting the Romans invented concrete it was I believe the Egyptians.

      On the subject of anyone investing that much money, I would want some information about other developments they have produced and would just like to confirm that we are talking about the same figures here, the preliminaries were £1,402,040 and the enabling works prior to transfer slab stage estimated at £2,237,022 but this stage hasn’t been reached yet.

      Cliff works additional to these figures approximately £900,000 from the council and £100,000 from SFP.

      There is also the self financing form sale of apartments, aspect of the development to consider, so the actual amount invested fluctuates, of course I am no expert in this area.

      I have no argument over the sand base being sufficient to support the development, providing the sea defence keeps the sand where it is and when the council’s engineer says the sea defence is protected by more sand, I am of course reassured by the pyramids, although for some reason still have to buy new razor blades. I guess because I lack faith, two year as an Anglican contemplative religious, makes me difficult to persuade in some areas.

      As Alice said “I forgot”

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  6. RP spot on with google.

    I guess if you have studied meteorology then you must see how difficult it is to predict just how high the tide can get.

    My calculations came much closer to those in the last FRA for the slipways proposal than I expected.

    Anyway on to the Royal Sands, you ask; how is it that the same sea wall in front of the Granville Marina is still intact after some 150 years?

    The answer here is that it isn’t all of the rest of the sea walls in Thanet are much newer, unless you count the eastern harbour arm, which in view of the picture in the post I guess you wouldn’t want to live behind. One thing about the three ton slabs of granite it’s made of, that the sea throws about like toys, is that they are a bit uncompromising.

    The rebuilding and reinforcement of the sea wall in front of Granville Marina is managed by the EA I have published some of the planning sheets for you interest at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop312/id15.htm

    As you can see an important feature is concrete founded in the chalk seabed, despite these relatively modern well maintained defences the council acted as building control for 1 Granville Marina, recently rebuilt, and insisted it was pile bored into the chalk bedrock.

    As a point of interest here, do you feel there should be a flood risk assessment or not?

    My take is that one would be beneficial to most of the parties involved, I mean it wouldn’t cost much, would make the apartments much easier to sell and presumably increase the value of the development much more than the cost of having one done.

    I know this may be a bit strange to you, but I have just read through the old comments and I really can’t seem to find any argument for not having a flood risk assessment.

    I would guess that there may be some need to reinforce parts of the old sea wall, or there may not, and I would guess the costs would come out of the public purse like all the rest of the sea walls around Thanet. They are doing the one behind Margate Sands at the moment and no one seems to be saying don’t.

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  7. Ramsgate PersonMarch 31, 2012 7:47 pm

    Yes, it is me but I can't get Google to accept my logon details now, so I've posted in this way.

    Apologies if I’ve got it wrong, but acting from memory I can’t recall exactly where the old sea wall finishes and the new one starts.

    However, that’s an interesting drawing you have highlighted from Norman Page dated 1973 (http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop312/id15.htm) as it shows the existing sea wall (presumably the original) as having concrete footings at least as deep as the new wall. Is there any reason why you think this may not be the case with the remainder of the original wall?

    You’re right in that you can’t find any arguments from me against a flood risk assessment. I don’t argue this point in public because I’m not qualified to do so. If I had concerns I would take them up with the relevant authorities in private.

    To clarify my position, I applaud anyone who follows their convictions. What I do think very wrong is that you portray yourself as an expert in all matters and then make public statements as if they’re fact. It’s also noticeable that they usually involve TDC. When challenged to explain how you are qualified to do this you have repeatedly avoided answering the questions, leaving us with no alternative but to draw our own conclusions.

    What I do know is that planning consent was granted, it has been revised, is approved and is legal. If the development had been built on time would you now be asking for a FRA with a view to modifying the structure? Or is it not that important?

    I dread to think how much council time and expense you have consumed over the years. I also dread to think how much damage your negative, dramatic and unqualified proclamations have cost our local economy.

    Sorry if I sound a bit harsh, but I genuinely believe you’re damaging the town. Why don’t you use you blog to promote the good things that are happening in Ramsgate?

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    1. Sorry you are having so much trouble with Google I know how irritating this sort of thing can be, I finally managed to read the article my American author friend wanted me to.

      The cast concrete sea wall post dates WW1 I expect it was put in when the Marina Swimming pool was built, but I would have to check.

      The old sea wall, and this is for want of a better name as it is mostly made of flags laid on a pile of chalk the upper section of this was I believe relaid consolidated 250 granular infill 1000mm sand an cement mix I think in 1998, further down no record exists. Extends from the pavilion end of the site to around the Augusta stairs area.

      The new cast concrete sea wall starts from the Augusta stairs area and extends as far as the park, there is no sea defence below the park as there are no residential developments or roads near the cliff.

      I won’t endeavour to contradict your other points as we have been here before.

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    2. Ramsgate PersonMarch 31, 2012 9:52 pm

      If you look closely at the drawing you will see that the "flags on a pile of chalk", referred to as as "existing block work" on the drawing are laid on "existing concrete footing". There's also some confusion over the "new" cast concrete wall as the drawing I'm looking shows a concrete wall laid in front of the "old" wall and is dated 1973.

      I have stated on here that you don't appear to have any qualifications for the subjects you write about. I would like to know where you have contradicted this.

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    3. RP all of these drawings are of the ferro concrete sea wall from Augusta Stairs along Granville Marina, not of the sea wall in front of the of the development site.

      In Allan’s response above the council’s engineer clearly states: “You are correct in that TDC do not hold drawings of the 1860 sea wall at Ramsgate but this is to be expected given the age of the structure.”

      With respect I should point out to you that ferro concrete first patented in 1867 is unlikely to feature in its construction because of this fact.

      I made it quite clear early in our dialogue that any qualifications I may have on any subject are not something I am going to put on this blog, Cllr Moores did this and had to put up with people who completely misunderstood the nature of his qualifications attempting to discredit him because of this.

      I have now conceded that I was one a blackboard monitor and frankly if the significance of this eludes you it isn’t my problem.

      Delete
    4. Ramsgate Person,

      It is clear that you are peeved by Michael's posts about the Pleasurama Site. I get the impression that you are irritated by what you see as his temerity in contradicting those you perceive to be in authority. You feel that Michael is wasting the time of his betters. In this your spirited defence of TDC is admirable, if rather curious. If you think Michael is wrong, and he may well be, then it behoves you to challenge his argument on engineering grounds. I find that your resorting to gratuitous insults and then making a patronising apology for being harsh rather odd.

      Delete
    5. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 3:57 pm

      Sorry Michael but the drawing I have in front of me from 1973 clearly shows an "existing blockwork wall" built on "existing concrete footing" which is remarkably similar in design to the existing wall which extends in front of the Royal Sands development. The drawing also details a slightly different design for the new wall "at the ramps". Although not stated on the drawing I would suggest this positions the section at the northernmost of the two ramps, which is where the new sea wall starts.

      I'm not sure of the relevance of the ferro concrete issue as it's not mentioned on the drawing I'm referring to. As the structure appears to date from around 1873 it is quite possible ferro concrete was used but it's not detailed on the drawing.

      Delete
    6. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 4:01 pm

      John Holyer: What I am really peeved about is the negative impact Michael's pronouncements are having on Ramsgate.

      I can assure you I am in no way defending TDC; you couldn't be more wrong. I am trying to defend Ramsgate from the vagaries of the bloke from the bookshop who thinks he’s a qualified engineer.

      I’m not qualified to challenge Michael’s arguments on engineering grounds the same as he’s doesn’t appear to be qualified to state to his thousands of readers that the cliff is collapsing or the development will get washed away.

      I’m sorry if my “patronising” apology to Michael upset you, but it was a genuine attempt to keep things on a non personal level. I do realise the printed word often appears harsher than the spoken word, and it appears you are more sensitive to this than Michael.

      Delete
    7. RP the sea defence in front of the royal sands inclines at 30 degrees to the horizontal and is made of flagstones, the top part of which were relaid recently on a sand cement mix, unless you are splitting hairs here and talking about the small part of the fero concrete modern sea defence at the Broadstairs end that extends in front of the development a short way.

      Of course the pavilion which at a stretch could be called a sea defence, extends a short way past the other end of the development, when I examined the foundations of the pavilion last year I noted that they are part cast concrete and part pre cast concrete blocks, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/pav2010/id3.htm for the pictures.

      Not sure what you are drinking here, is it the water or the wave?

      Delete
    8. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 8:02 pm

      Michael, to clarify: I’m looking at the 1973 drawing by Borough Engineer & Surveyor Norman Page at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop312/id15.htm which is titled “Marina Esplanade Sea Wall Repairs Plan & General Details”. The reason for the plan appears to be the construction of a mesh reinforced concrete wall in front of and pinned to the existing wall. The extent of the repair is not clearly defined but could possibly be to the north of August Ramp as this is where the sea reaches the wall and would no doubt have had an effect on the wall in the previous 100 years.

      The 1973 plan shows what at that time was described as “existing blockwork” which is inclined. The section is described as “typical wall detail”. In the plan you can clearly see “Existing Concrete Footings” which extend down into the bedrock.

      I am suggesting this is typical of the original sea defence from Augusta Steps to The Pavilion, and the plan is possibly the only evidence of the original sea wall foundations.

      From memory I recall the recently re-laid area of the wall being steeper, or it seemed that way when I climbed up and down it as a child. Presumably the blocks have been re-laid on a shallower incline either for safety or structural reasons. Presumably also they have recently been passed as acceptable for their purpose. Only a qualified engineer could confirm this.

      I like the pictures of the Pavilion, but it’s difficult to assess the foundations from inside the building.

      Delete
    9. RP having examined a number of pictures that were definitely pre 1930 as this was when the pier was demolished, looking at the shore going from the pavilion, you have a concrete stepped area where lifeguard station is now, I would guess this area is fairly solid, you then have the, 30 degree sloped part which I think dates from 1860, and is mostly still there with the council holding no plans of any serious modification, then at around the Augusta stairs area you then have the 65 degree to the beach to near vertical part. This is a totally different construction i.e. a wall of stone blocks inclined to a lesser or greater degree between 65 degrees and almost straight up this extends around the bend where Neros was to the cliff. The swimming pool not having been built then. The 30 degree part however is much more of a sloping pavement than a wall.

      Looking at pre WW1 pictures, evidenced by bathing machines, after the trenches this sort of prudery seemed laughable, the 30 degree sloping paving extends much further and I guess was replaced between 1918 and 1930 with the much stronger wall. I would expect that this had a concrete foundation.

      With the recently relaid area only the top part of this was relaid, not the continuation of the slope beneath the sand to the chalk bedrock, this issue isn’t one of dispute between me and the council’s engineer, as he also agrees that this part dates from 1860.

      I have to admit to being much more of an engineer than historian and this is really a question for a Ramsgate historian, I only developed an interest in our local history in 2005. I am however very slightly acquainted with our local history having edited and published 140 books on the subject since then. Fortunately I have a small collection of about 5,000 historic pictures of Ramsgate, which does make this sort of thing easier.

      I took the Pavilion photographs in November 2010 so I am afraid I misinformed you when I said it was last year, I was particularly interested in the construction, as I am sure you know it was originally built as a Concert Hall and Assembly Rooms in 1903. Designed by Stanley Davenport. Adshead and built by F.G. Minter of Putney.

      I have never come across any other source of pictures of the foundations so I can’t help you much there.

      Delete
  8. On the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic, it may be worth reflecting that men believed it to be "unsinkable".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ken this is your field I think, I am having a bit of an uphill struggle explaining why a ferro concrete sea wall wasn’t built in 1860 I doubt the fact ferro concrete was first exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1867 is going to help me much.

      I suspect the next argument will be Joseph Monier sneaked some into Ramsgate early as I guess he probably invented it in about 1860.

      But yes I do indeed feel like I am asking for more lifeboats, answering so there are enough to hold all the people on the ship, and being asked, why I am not asking this secretly, what qualifications I have to count etc.

      I guess if I said I used to be a blackboard monitor few would pick up the literary allusion.

      Delete
    2. Michael, there's no need to argue over when concrete came to Ramsgate.

      I think you'll find the Granville Hotel buildings were constructed by Edward Pugin and friends around 1870. Local history books tell me the Marina was constructed soon after, shall we say around 1872. If my maths are correct this is 12 years after your guess at when concrete was invented and five years after the Paris Exposition. Jules Verne also visited this exposition and probably took the recipe Around the World in Eighty Days!

      The truth is neither of us know for sure if the "old" sea wall is the original wall. But it does appear it was surveyed at least partially in 1973. http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop312/id15.htm

      Delete
    3. Ramsgate Person: You say, "If my maths are correct this is 12 years after your guess at when concrete was invented......"

      You should know that concrete was invented by the Romans.

      Delete
    4. Used to build the coliseum John, it’s however ferro concrete that is used for sea defences and I am pretty sure that the date I gave for Granville Marina, taken from English Heritage is actually wrong by about ten years, but will have to check.

      Delete
    5. Ramsgate Person,

      You probably meant to say 'Ferro Concrete'. This reinforced concrete was invented (1849) by Joseph Monier, who received a patent in 1867.

      Delete
    6. Yes Michael, I re-read your article and realised that you were talking about ferro concrete. My apologies. It seems that ferro reinforced concrete was invented in 1849 by Joseph Monier, who received a patent in 1867. But then that is according to Wikipedia.

      Delete
    7. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 2:40 pm

      John Holyer, no I didn't mean to say "Ferro Concrete". I was quoting accurately from a 1973 drawing by the Borough Engineer. I don't presume to know more than he does.

      Delete
    8. Ramsgate Person,

      I do not suppose for one moment that you know more than Borough Engineer. Unlike you, the Borough Engineer will know that concrete was invented by the Romans who used it extensively. Do you doubt this? Ferro Concrete is different and was patented in 1867. I suggest that you have your concretes mixed up.

      Delete
    9. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 4:07 pm

      Oh dear John, you don't appear to get it. I'm not doubting that concrete or ferro concrete was used. I'm just stating what the Borough Engineer stated on his 1973 drawing.

      Incidentally, I did have a very interesting lecture on concrete when I visited the Colosseum a few years ago.

      Delete
    10. Keep it going, Ken. What no more ships now in case they sink?

      Delete
    11. Tom I think perhaps the argument is a little milder that that, along the lines of in view of the Titanic ships should have sufficient lifeboats and in view of the Environment Agency saying so Royal Sands should have a flood risk assessment.

      Delete
    12. Or alternatively, all the experts were wrong about the Titanic so have they improved for the Royal Sands.

      Delete
  9. Ramsgate ResidentMarch 31, 2012 7:57 pm

    Quite right Readit. Best not build anything until we know for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  10. RP, from the progress on site or lack of it, I would suggest the developers have taken up your last suggestion.

    If you are truly a Ramsgate Person and /or Resident I would suggest you have been walking around the town like the three proverbial monkeys for the last 12 years. A building site for 12 years, planning permission 2003, £1m of your and my money spent on the cliff face, contract commencement 7 years after permission granted with 5 year limit, 100+ flats plus a hotel being built by 3 or 4 part-time workers, offshore developer with no company information on sales brochure, gagging clause in the development agreement and council meetings behind closed doors. Nothing to get concerned about there then just a normal day in Thanet.

    If you go back and read the post you will see that Michael was not wasting council time but provided freely to the new Labour councilors his take on the situation, two councilors were polite enough to reply.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes Readit, Ramsgate born, bred and still resident, also possibly more active than you think. It's a little presumptuous of you to suggest I don't know what's going on.

    I have never been in favour of the development and I believe the delays encountered to be an absolute disgrace. That is something we are all qualified to comment on, but unfortunately many of us (me included) don't bother. I applaud Michael for regularly bringing this into the public domain.

    What I don't applaud is his unqualified statements about structural and safety issues that he is not qualified to comment about. These concerns should be addressed in private with the relevant people. What purpose does it serve telling thousands of people the cliff is about to collapse or the Royal Sands will get washed away in the next storm. It can only harm the town.

    Again, I applaud Michael for bringing his concerns to the attention of the cabinet but why did he have to do it in public? You will no doubt have read the response to his comments from Alan Poole which suggest Michael is wrong with many of his points. Now we will no doubt have another protracted debate in public to the detriment of the town.

    The Royal Sands is here. Let's just concentrate on getting it finished as soon as possible either by the current developer or another. Making false accusations based on inaccurate information and hypothetical situations just isn't helping.

    ReplyDelete
  12. As far as I can understand it, Michael did raise his concerns with all of the relevant people. However, he only started getting proper responses when he started publishing the letters online.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 2:27 pm

      Don't think so Anonymous and John Holyer. The letter was open from the start. To quote Michael: "I have sent an open letter to all of the cabinet members about the Royal Sands development, I did something like this with the previous Conservative Cabinet when it came before them about three years ago, so it will be interesting to see how a Labour cabinet responds to this one".

      Delete
    2. RP my correspondence about the development is extensive, extends back a long time about ten years, the great majority of it has never been published, on this aspect i.e. the foundations on sand and suspect sea wall, there is a long thread of emails between me and the contracting firms MD, and obviously between me and the council’s engineer.

      In much of it I made very clear that reasonable answers are what I would have preferred for publication, I also made it very clear with the open letter relating to this cabinet meeting that I intended to publish it and the replies.

      I also have the private internal documentation relating to the previous secret cabinet meeting where the previous cabinet decided to ignore officers recommendations and proceed with the development, why they did this is of course a secret, perhaps you could ask them.

      While I can see that there are areas where secrecy is beneficial, in this instance I think that without some publicly agreed plan that is agreed and followed more delays, more abandoned building site are most likely.

      Without my publicity it would be for instance impossible to tell that if work is behind schedule, or that the cabinet are to decide on re scheduling it again, as it is as least what the developer is supposed to be doing is in the public domain.

      Delete
    3. Ramsgate PersonApril 01, 2012 5:13 pm

      Michael, I honestly applaud you for your deliberations and perhaps surprisingly for some I agree with you on many issues. However, there are procedures for dealing with inadequacies in public life, including failure to adequately respond to questions, which should end up with the offender suffering, not the town. This is what I’m against and why I try to balance the argument by pointing out any discrepancies and inaccuracies.

      You’ll be pleased to know I’m away for a few days soon, and I won’t be reading your blog.

      Delete
    4. Not really RP you have done a lot to both clarify my mind on some of the issues and make me check my facts, as I am sure you understand there is no personal animosity here.

      Delete
  13. Can somebody clarify the current state of play with the development?

    I understood that the developer had agreed to pay a sum of money for the site, but no money had yet changed hands (i.e. TDC still owns the site). The money was going to be paid at some time in the future. I understood that the Council had put in place a safeguard against the developer failing to start construction and that the developer hadn't handed over the bond required under the terms of this safeguard. I understood that the developer had to build the hotel first because the Council didn't trust them to do this after building the apartments. Can somebody clarify who owns what, what money has changed hands and what is the status of the agreement to develop the site? If my understandings are correct, it doesn't look as if the developer has paid anything.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Broadstairs PersonApril 02, 2012 11:16 am

    Ramsgate Person, can I just suggest that you are wasting your time with John Holyer and Readit for they are both total Michael groupies who cling to his every pronouncement. As a bookshop owner he is evidently far more expert in these matters than the council, its officers, the developer and the architects, all of whom have failed to take account of the possibility of the Moon colliding with the Earth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Broadstairs Person,

      It is apparent that you selectively scan the substance of my comments and then go on to put two and two together and make make five. Which is a result that satisfies your rather poisonous prejudices. Your post is vacuous in the extreme.

      Delete
    2. Broadstairs PersonApril 02, 2012 9:59 pm

      And I love you too, John, even if you are a groupie with a spiteful turn of phrase.

      Delete
  15. Anonymous person with Thanet interests at Heart

    I’d like to thanks Alan Poole, Ramsgate & Broadstairs persons

    At last there are balanced comments on this site that rather than make the usual unfounded claims are actually based on the facts, the only shame is the potential damage unsubstantiated claims made by Michael have caused Royal Sands, Ramsgate and Thanet as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ramsgate Person, Broadstairs Person and Anonymous sound suspiciously one of the same. Trolling, I wonder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Broadstairs PersonApril 03, 2012 11:06 am

      Let me assure John that I am neither Ramsgate Person or Anonymous and if he bothered to look closer there are distinct difference in the literacy style and format of these various contributions. I am also not a creature who waits under bridges for unsuspecting billy goats, perhaps because of the scarcity of such locations and creatures in Thanet.

      John has long suscribed to the belief that calling yourself Joe Bloggs and opening a google account somehow makes your contributions to these blogs more credible. If it so pleases his tiny mind, who am I to deny him, but I would ask where would all the blogs be without the anonymous and psuedonym contributions.

      Delete
    2. BP I do try to reply to all of the comments that seem to need a reply regardless of the degree of anonymity, which does relate to the comments credibility.

      In your own case at least you have given yourself a pseudonym, which makes it much easier to distinguish you from others.

      The level of credibility is of course higher for John, posting signed on as under that petard his identity remains the same and his credibility rests on his previous posts.

      The highest level of credibility must of course be given to people who are known publicly in the area, like Allan Poole and I am very grateful to them for taking the time to contribute to the debate in this very public forum.

      Delete
    3. Broadstairs PersonApril 03, 2012 12:29 pm

      Michael, this issue was not so much of credibility but a response to John's allegation that Ramsgate Person, an Anonymous and I were one and the same contributor. He also threw in the troll label, whatever that means, hence my reference to a well known tale of childhood.

      Anyway thanks for your reply although mine was not directed at you.

      Delete
    4. BP merely trying to calm the waters here, in an area where a difference of opinion shouldn’t lead to personal animosity.

      Delete
    5. No animosity from my side, Michael, for it was John who threw out his accusations and troll label. It really does not bother me and if it makes the old chap happy, well who am I to deny him his little pleasures!

      Delete
    6. BP I have two ten year old girls who read this blog, most of my rather inept attempts at art and photography are for their amusement, so I try to keep levels of civility reasonable.

      I have explained to them that they are to be Ladies and that the mark of a lady is that she is only rude deliberately.

      I have also explained to them that they are to be intelligent and they should aspire to only misunderstanding people deliberately too.

      Delete
    7. Nice one, Michael, and excellent aspirations to pass on. By the way, are your daughters twins? Oh, and have they read any of Dr. Robert Hume's excellent books which are a good way to combine the pleasure of reading with learning some of the more obscure stories from history. Mind you, I suppose they are targetted at the sort of 13-15 level. Worth bearing in mind for the near future.

      Delete
    8. Yes, one appears top be reading Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the other Biggles Learns to Fly and possibly something on prehistoric mathematics from the conversation this morning. Living in a building that is also a repository for more than 30,000 books limits my control in this area.

      Delete
  17. Anonymous replies

    Just as I'd expect, if a responder doesn't follow Michael or his herd of sheep with typical replies, the content of thier blog is discounted or " your missing the point" used.....Bah, Bah, Bah

    ReplyDelete

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