Monday, 18 August 2014

Save Ramsgate Shopping Centre

Thanet District Council seem to be deliberately trying to damage Ramsgate as a shopping centre. To be honest I haven’t seen anything from the council related to Ramsgate that looks more disastrous since the Pleasurama plans were submitted about ten years ago. What the council have done is to buy the largest shop is a fully occupied town centre shopping street with the intention of turning the shop inot social housing.  

I have endeavoured to start a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/815158441850840/ as I have never done this before, I guess there will be lots of errors there and any help would be appreciated.



Anyway here is my objection to the planning application:

72 King Street
Ramsgate
Kent
CT11 8NY
U. K.
Telephone (01843) 589500

Application Number F/TH/14/0660
Attn Emma Fibbens
Objection to planning application for change of use from retail to housing at 69-73 King Street, Ramsgate CT11 8NX
I am mainly objecting to this application on the grounds that all of the shops between this one and the centre of the town are let and running as shops, with the exception of one that is being refitted and one that was recently closed after a council health inspection.
That deliberately damaging a functioning busy fully occupied shopping street by converting the largest shop in it into social housing is contrary to town centre regeneration. 

Brief history dates and amounts may be inaccurate as I am writing this from memory

69-73 King Street traded for many years as a furniture shop, a significant part of their business was supplying furniture to residents of social housing and when they lost the contract about 15 years ago they went bankrupt.
The shop remained empty until about 12 years ago and then traded as a carpet shop until about 6 years ago when the carpet shop closed and the shop was sold at auction. 
The building was sold for around £90,000 and was then marketed for around £250,000 and failed to sell. It then went back into auction about 4 years ago with a reserve of 170,000, failed meet its reserve at the auction, but was sold after the auction for £160,000.
At the end of 2011 the new owners applied for planning permission to convert the upper floors to residential and the ground floor from one large shop to 3 smaller shops.
These seemed sensible plans and I don’t think anyone objected to them.
Most recently it was bought by Thanet District Council.
It is important to appreciate that this is the largest shop in King Street and it being closed for the last 6 years has had a very damaging affect on the other business in this part of Ramsgate town centre.
Despite this King Street still remains in a busy shopping street, with the shops on each side of it trading and the shops opposite also still trading apart from at one end of it where it is opposite part of the shop that the council closed down after their health inspection unit visited it.

Ramsgate shopping centre

The most vibrant and successful part of the shopping centre is based around the only viable public car park; Staffordshire Street Car Park Ramsgate 200 spaces. The other large town centre car park is; Leopold Street Multi-story Car Park Ramsgate 394 spaces, somewhere that few women (who do most of the shopping) would venture into, if driving alone.
Ramsgate is the main food-shopping town in East Kent, it has 3 butchers, 2 greengrocers, 2 bakers, 1 fishmonger, within the town centre and all a short distance from Staffordshire Street Car Park.
I have been trading in King Street, opposite 69-73 as a new and secondhand bookseller since 1987 and can confirm that food shoppers from Thanet, Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Herne Bay; all town centres with far fewer independent food retailers use the town and car park for their food shopping.

Councils

KCC has a strong vested interest in their large investment in Turner Contemporary and making the shops in area around it survive.
TDC has a strong vested interest in their large investment in Dreamland, a strong desire to see Westwood Cross Shopping Centre succeed and are more focussed on Margate and Westwood than on Ramsgate.  
RTC would like to see much more activity around their offices in Harbour Parade and are trying to move commercial activity that way, although this is hindered by the two nearest retail premises (at the harbour end of Harbour Street) of any consequence being empty, probably because they are too far from Staffordshire Street Car Park.      
The net result of this has been:
The removal of all of the free on street parking in the immediate area of the King Street shops e.g. Turner Street no-through-road and Belmont Street, while on street parking is allowed on narrow streets adjacent to school entrances in Ramsgate e.g. St Ethelbert’s School.
Rubbish and recycling collections taking place in King Street on market day the busiest shopping day there.
The pavement in King Street being in an appalling condition.
Part of the shopping centre within King Street being removed from the town centre for policing purposes.
I should reiterate here that despite these hindrances all of the available shops in King Street between Plains of Waterloo and High Street are open and trading apart from one which was closed by the council and one which is being refitted. 

Social housing

King Street in Ramsgate has several late night takeaways licensed until 4am and the street is often very noisy and lively until then. The removal of the town centre police beat means that most of it has the same level of policing as an out of town residential area, so inevitably drunken fights break out in the early hours of the morning.
Since 1987 I have had about 50 late night – early hours shop window breakages.
This is compounded by the situation in Trove Court and Kennedy House, where there is no doorman, so people use the corridors to rough sleep and for drug abuse, means that there is a lot of late night and early hours noise at street level in King Street
This development would mean housing people on the ground floor next to the street, perhaps this sort of social housing is intended by the council as some form of punishment, personally I think it inappropriate. 
Recommendations.
As this shop is in the main food shopping town centre in the area and very close to the only public car park that most shoppers feel safe using I would recommend that the council approach, Quex Farms and other local food producers with the proposition of turning it into and indoor market, primarily a farmer’s market.     


Best regards Michael 

The snags with this one are primarily that I am very busy at the moment my bookshop is busy and it is the long school holidays so I have to occupy my school age children. From the point of view of the councillors and council officers understanding where I am coming from here, my guess is that most of them would do their shopping in the supermarket, the independent food shops tent to appeal either to people who don’t have much disposable income or to people who take food shopping and choice seriously. 

I will do what I can to try and get a sensible solution from the council, I have already had a fair amount of correspondence with councillors over this one, but as I said some help would be appreciated.   

5 comments:

  1. Michael you should start up an online petition I will sign it and I'm sure many more will

    ReplyDelete
  2. Michael I can fully understand your concerns but the developer must have been given some intimation it would succeed it seems TDC is all out for houses rather than business it has no plans to promote the shops only a managed decline

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don I think you have missed the point here TDC are the owners and TDC have applied to TDC for planning permission so that TDC can develop the site as social housing.

      Delete
  3. Sorry, I live in Deal and I never ever go to Ramsgate and have stopped going there a long time ago. Most people in Deal shop in Deal or shop at Whitfield and or Canterbury, Folkestone. Deal has a large number of greengrocer's and butcher's and bakeries more so than Ramsgate. People from Deal do not shop in Ramsgate. Why would they. Deal isn't brilliant but Ramsgate is worse. At least Deal has M and S and Sainsbury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon 8:40pm,

      Well Ramsgate has a Waitrose, so there.

      Delete

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