Saturday, 20 October 2012

Councils collide over Ramsgate harbour Radar.

This picture is of the port control building at the moment



This picture is of what the port control building would look like with the new radar that Thanet District Council want to install.

As far as I can tell Ramsgate Town Council were the main objectors, objecting on the grounds that the new radar is out of keeping with the art deco listed building.

As the Thanet District Council administration is Labour and the Ramsgate Town Council is Labour with many of the councillors holding senior positions in both councils, this may be an interesting one suggesting either a conflict between the same people, or a conflict between officers and councillors.

I guess for me part of the problem relates to the way the council owned listed buildings are looked after, somewhere in there among the additions could be a reasonably attractive art deco building, I will try to find a picture of what it ought to look like now.


Obviously there was a short period between building the art deco Sun Café and removing most of its architectural merit, I am afraid this is the only picture I can find. I have to admit that I don’t have a deep enough artistic understanding to even have recognised this as an art deco structure until of course our town councillors highlighted the issue.     


Re comments this is a picture from the top of the cafe building from a 1939 guide it should expand if you click on it compulsively

37 comments:

  1. Would the councils agree to some art deco radar?

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    1. Careful John,a member of the Committee might think you are being serious and propose it as an alternative option.

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  2. I wonder how many decided to vote against the application because they were wrongly informed it was a listed building.

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    1. Please read the report put before the Planning Committee, Tony. Port Control may not be listed but it is upon a listed building, thus the impact of any changes to the Port Control will have an impact on the Pier and has to be considered by the Committee.

      http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/documents/s27310/D13%20-%20Port%20Control%20East%20Pier%20The%20Royal%20Harbour%20RamsgateCT11%208LJ%20-%20LTH120591.pdf

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    2. James I had the pleasure to discuss this issue with some councillors today and it was definitely what they described as the art deco building they were concerned about.

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    3. I was commenting on the listed or not status point, rather than the fact Members were commenting on the Port Control building. The main opinion was that the other site proposed by the Ramsgate Society was the preferred option, which isnt in my notes but I thought was the other Pier. One Councillor said that TDC should consider covering the cost of re-locating it.

      In retrospect a bit more time planning what I was going to blog about on this application would have helped but ho hum.

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    4. James I am assuming that the radar has to be higher than the other structures at the seaward end of the harbour so it can see over the top of them, the highest of the other structures being the navigational lights on to of the Sun Café which is on top of the east pier.

      On the end of other harbour arm is the Victorian lighthouse, which relatively isn’t that high, perhaps I should do an artistic mock-up.

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  3. James, what impact is a mast going to have on a listed pier (would a pier be a building or a structure?), it is not actually in contact it. As I wrote on your blog the so called art deco building has already been built on three times before, so how does a mast make a bigger impact?

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    1. James, forgot to mention I have read the report. I don't think an actual alternative site was mentioned,just a suggestion to look for one.
      Michael, interesting photo of the Sun Cafe any idea what year? I assume it's pre World War 2. Actually shows how much has changed from the original. I believe (I'm sure one of the old sea dogs will correct me if I'm wrong) that the Royal Navy took over the building for the war, reinforced it , and used it as an observation post. (No Planning Committee to worry about then,thank goodness) So which part of the "art deco" are they so upset about.

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    2. Sorry Tony I don’t know, I had enough difficulty finding any picture at all, I would guess that the structure was only in its original form for a very short time.

      The only guide I can find it in is the 1939 one, by which time it is called The Eagle Café, there is a picture in this guide which appears to have been taken from the top of the structure looking across the upper and lower sun decks.

      I will add the picture to the post.

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    3. Thanks Michael, just had a closer look and notice the proposed mast would have been on the extension that had been put round the original building, so it does not even touch the building they are getting upset about. It's so annoying knowing what the Harbour is losing out on, and considering how much money it brings into the area.

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    4. Can always trust you to find the pictures Michael.If you were to stand now where that picture was taken, you'd be looking out the front windows of Port Control. Another interesting point is English Heritage and the Conservation Team lodged no objection about this proposal. English Heritage, I imagine, would have been the first to complain if this building was so historically important.

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  4. From Images of England, Ramsgate and St Laurance, 2nd edition, page 56.
    The Eagle Café, situated on the end of the East Pier, c.1939. The Grummant brothers, a firm of local builders, were contracted to build this futuristic building. Alderman W T Smith, Mayor of Ramsgate, officially opened the premises in July 1938..... Total cost £6000.

    With the foresight that Ramsgate showed with its air raid tunnels, I wonder if this building was all part of the same preparations. If so, I could easily imagine the original architects backing the plan to install a new radar system.

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  5. Foresight, in Thanet, OMG, 12:24, you are seriously having a laugh. There is no comparison possible with the late 30s, when this was still proud England, and the strange nation and culture we have since become. Yesterday our illustrious unions, with their puppet prince, took to the streets opposed to the auterity cuts as not fairly shared, ignoring the fact that they themselves now largely represent the public sector only. Is that fair on the rest of us, but, with Pink Dave and Red Ed to choose between, what chance have we got.

    In such a land is it any surprise that bringing our port up to speed should cause such a dilemma over an 'art deco' shack. Bit like someone recently suggesting Arlington should be listed (preferably on a demoltion company's jobs outstanding list). Mind you, interesting that Labour controlled RTC should disagree with Labour controlled TDC on the radar issue. They are obviously looking at different screens and got their little green blobs confused.

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  6. I worked in a Grade 1 listed Government building on Whitehall. English Heritage understood out need to place aerials on the roof and, applying commonsense, did not stand in our way.

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  7. Does Thanet commerce have a death wish.

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  8. I have worked under the guidance of English Heritage. They do not seek to halt progress. They apply commonsense. I do not think English Heritage would obhect to a radar array provided it was not fixed to the building facade and could be removed in future without damaging the building. Perhaps, if they have not aready done so, our elected Coucillors will seek the advice and guidance of English Heritage.

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  9. Maybe they could hide this radar tower in the multi storey car park. Would be useless as a port control radar but it would keep Jocelyn and the other luvvies happy.
    Or maybe we could listen to the experts and put it where it would be most effective. Bit radical for Thanet I admit but ...

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    1. John, Jocelyn is the chairman of the Ramsgate Society. Contrary to all the rubbish being talked here, the Ramsgate Society suggested that the radar tower should be placed adjacent to the aggregate/cement plant on the far end of the new port, thus having a completely unobstructed view in all directions.

      Art Deco or not, the Eagle Cafe is prominent from all parts of the Royal Harbour. Standing on the Royal Parade this mast would dominate the skyline, when it can just as easily be sited in a better and less prominent position.

      If we do not start to protect Ramsgate's Heritage there will be nothing left to protect and in no way does this prevent progress as alternative proposals can always be found.

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    2. Readit,

      I take your point about heritage, I really do. However, we also need to protect Ramsgate's commerce. The Harbour can earn money for the town.

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  10. Readit, if you are looking for a sensible argument with these intellectual giants, forget it. Any question posed about anything, any objection about anything, you are labelled a nimby Luddite who wishes to send Thanet even further down the plug hole. You object, therefore you are a labour voting anarchist.

    I'd stick the radar somewhere vacant of any visually pleasing elements and lacking any frequency of visitors - perhaps the regular posters to this weblogs houses.

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    1. Anonymous @ 10:32,

      Have you considered the electronics when formulating your decision about where to locate the radar array. This is of course a rhetorical question. You flippantly dismiss the siting of the radar. Presumably this is because you personally do not need it. However, you may wish to spare a thought for those who do need it, whose life may depend upon it, the Life Boat for example.

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  11. The only problem with citing the masts somewhere the other side of the port from Port Control is hooking them up with the Port Control desks that are above the Eagle Cafe. Yes there is wireless connections, though in bad weather this can be unstable (anybody with Sky TV will appreciate this). The only way to do it would be by running a cable across the port, a cost that is not necessary.
    It makes perfect sense to place the radar systems for the port above Port Control. The hint is in the name! Just look at any other port anywhere in the world, the main radar systems are above or adjacent to the Port Control buildings.

    Nice constructive comment there, Anon 10.32, comments like yours are why you get called a 'nimby'.

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    1. Paul Appleyard,

      This is precisely what I intended to say, you beat me to it. I would suggest that a cable connection is more reliable than wireless. A cable run from the new port to the Eagle Cafe is feasible. It comes down to a balance between cost and aesthetics.

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    2. John, you mention costs. It comes down to two choices in the end.
      Choice one: you have a company willing to finance the installation of the latest system, so they can use it as a test centre, and can be used by the staff.
      Choice two: the present system will soon need replacing and, not being cheap, will have to paid out of the Council budget.
      I know which one I choose.

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    3. Tony,

      Thank you. This is something else that I did not know. Like you - I choose option one.

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  12. If the installation was by the aggregate/cement plant I think the view the Thanet Windfarm would be reduced even without vessels like Seajack being in the port. Like it or not, but UK is building electrical generation systems offshore and it makes sense to keep an eye on them. Recently the MCA held Exercise Guardex (London Array) with the scenario of a passenger liner loses power and is in collision with a wind farm accommodation ship resulting in a fire onboard. The cruise liner then collides into a wind turbine.

    The alternative position would presumably need the construction of a more substantial mast (expensive) and remote operation. The next question is why bother providing a feed to Port Control when it could just as easily be in Dover or London.

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  13. Anonymous @ 9:32AM,

    Thank you. I did not know that the purpose of the radar was to look at the Thanet Wind Farm. In the light of what you say the Eagle Cafe is the sensible location for the aerials.

    You go on to say that the next question is why bother providing a feed to Port Control when it could just as easily be in Dover or London. Precisely, and Ramsgate loses more jobs through our own inertia.

    If I may digress. I'm biased where wind farms are concerned. My preferred use for them would be as an RAF bombing range. The aircraft would be based at Manston. Some low level night flying would be necessary.

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  14. Michael could you, or one of your readers advise on political procedure. I have just seen the minutes of the Planning Committee which included the Port Control item. I believe Ramsgate Town Council (RTC) put in an objection about the proposal. There are six members of RTC who are also on the Planning Committee, two who were not present but had substitutes, one of which put forward the motion for resiting instead of referral. My question is this, as they had put forward an objection as RTC should they, and the substitutes not have stated a Declaration of Interest and not have taken part in this item?

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    1. Tony, in the first instance I would give the council’s planning department a ring Thanet 577150 and see what they have to say, my past experience is that officers are usually very helpful.

      On the point about declaration of interest, I think these declarations only apply to the councillors sitting on a particular committee for a particular meeting, where they are the people making a decision about something.

      I can see there are two reasonably valid cases with this one and as I usually do I try to remain as impartial as I can, both the preservation of the look of Ramsgate and the proper functioning of the harbour are critical to the success of Ramsgate and to an extent Thanet as a whole.

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    2. I did notice that Cll Lodge-Pritchard entered a declaration of interest on an earlier item, because she had opposed the development of that item.

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Im a bit rusty on this declaration of interests stuff with the Localism Act last year changing it all. Rules on predetermination changed because of this sort of situation, where people felt restricted speaking because of the danger of being accusing of having a "closed mind" and thus being in breach of the rules with some absurd results. Past statements are now treated as just that and dont in themselves mean a Councillor for example has predetermined.

      Your best bet, as Michael says, is to contact the Council asking for clarification on the rules of declaration. On this meeting, I dont think on the face of it there was any breach of the rules.

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  16. Why do they need the new tower? can the existing one not be utilized.

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    1. Anon 10:27 PM,

      I am sure the engineers will be considering this, along with the many other factors of this installation.

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