Monday, 12 October 2009

Ramsgate royal sands development.

After the previous posts and associated comments one thing that keeps coming up in the comments from various people is why do I feel qualified to question the various experts involved in the development.

The gist being that it is better to leave matters in the hands of the architect, council and developer, rather than listen to the views of a shop assistant.

First I would like to thank all of those that commented and to stress that I expect lively comment, don’t expect everyone to agree with me and most particularly find arguments opposing my views helpful when preparing information to discuss with the contractor, developer's agent and the council.

There are many aspects of the plans and the documents relating to the new development that have called me to question the competence of the architect, council and developer and I shall use detail from the various planning stages of one small area of the building from the plans on the council’s website to illustrate this.

The area I am going to concentrate on here is the western end of the new development adjacent to the cliff, roughly next to where the lift is now.

This is from the first set of plans that were passed by the council (Drawing PL 13-106 Side elevation West 4.11.2003) I pointed out with several other people that the development if built to these plans would tower over the cliff top, in some places by as much as 3 metres.
The architects produced a set of plans trying to resolve this issue, I pointed out to them that that the sections were 1.5 metres taller than the elevations. By that I mean that the building if built to those plans would have the Tardis like quality of being taller on the inside than it was on the outside.
They then produced this set of plans (Drawing PL 13-106 Side elevation West 18.01.2005) as you see they have lowered the ceiling height to resolve this issue and unfortunately the lorry in the picture was too high. So in the detail above you can see that the lorry is embedded in the concrete ceiling.

I pointed this out to them and they resolved this by producing another set of plans detail from them above (Drawing PL 13-106 Side elevation West 22.09.2005) this was an easy one for them to solve they did so by making the lorry shorter.
It was a novel solution so I conceded this one, frankly I had no real idea of what to say to them.
Then when they they were working on the cliff façade repairs they exposed the bottom of part of the cliff and I found the foundations didn’t come down as far as the proposed level of road where the lorry was standing.

In fact some of the cliff had no foundations at all, I put this to the chap in charge of the cliff repairs and got rather a curt reply saying that the foundations were 2 metres thick concrete resting on solid chalk.

At this point I hopped over the fence down there with a camera and a stick and sent him a series of photographs showing that there were indeed no foundations and sent them to him.

Then this year another set of plans appeared (these are the current plans the ones they now intend to build to) they have resolved the problem of the cliff façade not coming down to the level of the new development by raising the road to cover up the absence of any foundations for the cliff face.

As you can see not even the shorter lorry can fit under the building so the road for the lorries and cars has been moved to between the cliff and the back of the development.
The only problem here is as this is the main access it has to be a two way road, however as you can see it is only just wide enough for one lorry.

Now I come to old problem of the height of the building.

First the building space available.

The measurements here are given as above datum (the height above sea level on the plans) the lowest part of the cliff top behind the building is 21.7 metres high.

The lowest the base line of the building can be has appeared on the plans in various different ways and probably at various different heights.

I have taken the minimum you can safely get away with from the flood risk assessment for the new Turner Contemporary because it is the most recent proper flood risk assessment done in Thanet that I can find.
My conclusions from this are you would need to build above and well behind a sea defence least 7 meters high. This leaves 14.7 meters between the floor level at the bottom of the building and the cliff top behind the building.

Now the height of the building.

There doesn’t seem to be any actual regulation height for ceilings in new buildings that I can find, so I took the minimum that the government requires for hostels for the homeless, this is 7 feet and added on a foot for luxury giving 8 feet or about 2.5 metres in new money, which is what I will work in as the other measurements are metric.

There are four residential floors, you need about 3 metres per floor to have 2.5 metre ceilings the thickness of the floor and a gap to put all the wires and pipes into.

Now the ground floor the ceilings here are will certainly have to be more than 8 feet, for one thing shops and other commercial enterprises down there are going to have a lot more in the way of pipes and wires.

I have been wandering around looking at ceilings in shops and the various ducts and thing that one would need above them I don’t really see it would be possible to get away with less than 5 metres including the concrete ceiling and the floor above.

This all adds up to 17 metres, which seems to leave 2.3 that don’t quite fit.

Hopefully someone will spot a mistake that I have made here because if not when it is built and you stand by the top of the cliff by the lift and look towards Broadstairs I think it quite likely that you won’t be able to see over the top of it.


  1. As a former contract civil engineer I'm astonished at this level of incompetence. I can't believe any of these plans have left a junior drawing board let alone seen the light of day.

    I'd walk away from the contract now - it is more Mickey Mouse than Disneyland and will only result in failure.

  2. 15.55 at one point in this saga a senior member of the council’s planning department dropped a set of plans that were submitted by the developer into the bookshop.

    These are the only set of plans for this development, that I have seen, that have never appeared on the council’s website.

    On one of the elevations they show people standing on the balconies with their heads embedded in the concrete balcony above them.

    I have many interesting and unusual pieces of historical ephemera that relate to Ramsgate and consider these plans to be one of the more unusual.

    If you ever find yourself in my bookshop, please let me know and I will show them to you.

  3. My name is Yvonne and I would like to say that when my mother was alive she used to take my grandsons to the beach at Ramsgate, and it was so lovely there. Safe for children to bathe also. I am not sure what is happening, but I do hope nothing is done to spoil the access and the lovely beautiful sandy area behind and beyond the old Casino building.

    Yvonne Chapman, Minster, Thanet.

  4. Depends on how you look at it Yvonne we have lost most of the parking for the main sands, which makes it very difficult for people with young children.

    The width of the pedestrian access has been reduced and a lot of the promenade is now boarded off, what really annoys me and a lot of other locals is the lack of the promised public consultation.

    For instance today I noticed that some of the rubbish and dog fouling bins have vanished behind the boards and as there is no information on what is going on no one knows if they will be moved to where you can use them.

  5. The evidence suggests to me that from the outset TDC has been content for the building to rise above cliff top level and obscure the view. They obscure this truth in the hope that they can present us with a fait accompli. Keep punching away at them Michael.

    John Holyer

  6. Your theme reminds me of a story I heard about Sylvanus B Thompson.

    His qualifications were seriously questioned when a number of Oxbridge academics wanted to stop him revealing to the masses that maths is really quite simple.

    The story goes that the criticism was so venomous the Times gave Sylvanus a right of reply which went like this :

    "The worst of their criticism is that it is all true.

    Unfortunately they stopped before explaining how it was I always got the answers right"

  7. Venice would never have been built if they knew what they know now. But what a delightful place that is!! In the Pleasurama days the view from the cliff top was of an industrial clad roof deck! I am sure this development will be an improvement. We will stand more chance of getting the arches to Nero's hill repaired with investment brought into the Town from schemes like Royal Sands.

  8. Michael - I have just been looking at your sketches. Can you please colour them in next time.

  9. Sorry to be tiresome, Michael but you seem to be floundering in the dark.
    If you arrange with the planning officer at Margate to view drawing PL13-107 Revision J which is in the public domain. ALL WIL BE EXPLAINED!.
    If any level exceeds 22 then it will project above the clikk top.

  10. Readit

    Perhaps your use of the word "Revision" would have meritted more thought by you before you posted ?

    But thanks for the smile.

  11. To wit (see what I did there a la ECR AWOL) who brought about Revisions A to H ?(It not being customary to label a Revision "I" in order to avoid people thinking TDC got it right first or second time)

  12. Sorry to go off thread. I became a follower of your blog Michael when I took it off my sidebar as I am only doing COPD posts now.

    We haven't had a Gerald document calligraphy puzzle for a while ?

  13. Rick,

    All 17 of these transcribed documents are available on a very basic webpage here. I plan to create a explanation of what these mean when I get some time - but I've been rather busy this year.

    btw: the bit of text that was a puzzle before ended up as being "We say". It was the start of a new sentence which was: "We say Received in full as aforesaid by us", which I discovered later was a standard phrase used in deed endorsements.


  14. Busy day today people so the replies will have to be brief.

    John I have been mystified by this one since the first set of plans, could they have been so incompetent not to realise the building was so high?

    I just don’t know, if not what would be the point in spoiling this area of such architectural significance?

    Richard it is often the problem when explaining the issues without getting technical that makes my posts come out that way, I think.

    22.47 have you seen a sample of the proposed roofing material? It looks like a very dark grey corrugated rubber to me, not attractive at all considering we are talking about around an acre of roof and as its so close to the footpath it is right in you face, not the landscaped sedum roof we were promised at all.

    I will cover the arches in the next few days but I wonder have you considered who will pay for the repairs?

    As for Venice it was built to the best understanding of water levels at the time, I am not asking for something that will last as long as Venice just 50 or so years.

    22.49 These are not my sketches but details copied from the developers plans from the councils planning website, I don’t think I had better change them in any way.

    Readit I already have my own copy the planning officers bring them round here when they come to talk about it, I believe you will find if you ask them informed technical questions and take a scale rule with you so you can read of the dimensions, you will find that they too are a bit uncertain as to just how far it will stick up, how much of the view will be obscured or what they will do if it comes out too high when built.

    Richard that is quite strange really as I only have seven sets different of plans and J suggests 9, I wonder where the other two went.

    Gerald this is my fault really I must get them sorted into some sort of publication, the trouble is that I have been so busy at the moment, I have the managing director of the contractor that intends to build the Royal Sands Development coming round this week in the hope that we can get the problems resolved.

  15. Thanks Gerald .. I thought "Persay" as the end of a sentence. I will visit the link.

    At primary school we learnt to write with a script called, I think, Marian Richardson. A script with no mirror images to trick those with dyslexia.

    When I went on to Royal Hospital School we had to write Civil Service script.

    My school reports for art record that I had absolutely no ability except for calligraphy.

    I have not picked up a calligraphy pen in years. But I found trying to solve the handwriting questions on your old docus interesting.

  16. Rick,

    Its quite common in these documents that some words will be almost unreadable and that you have to work out what they are from their context.

    Fortunately, these deeds tend to be made up of stock phrases that are used over and over again in different deeds. I wasn't aware of this phrase when I transcribed the early deed, but came across this in the later ones.

    I guess the endorsements are written at the time the deeds are signed, and are probably not done with so much care as the main text of the deed itself.

    It can quite often be a case of working out what a word is most likely to be, given the type of language the lawyers were using.

    People's names can be the most challenging, as there are no general clues what they might be - and in that case you often need to look at several instances of the name on the deed - or in related deeds - to work out what they are.


  17. Yes I think that was the difficulty the guy who wrote the endorsement may not have been the same as drew up the document. So looking at the letter construction of the main docus did not inform what the words are in the endorsement.

    In my time I came up against the redoubtable MI6 officer Sue Ryder. She was an impossible one to pin down on the words she had written.

    EG "Her passbook has come in meantime"

    Miss Ryder had taken possession of the deceased passport and her bankbook. Then gained the immediate habit of referring to each document as "Passbook". When asked had she hidden the passport from police oh shock horror now was it the bankbook or the passport she had held on to ?

    And what does "Meantime" mean ? When did it come in and where it had been ?

    In her autobiography she boasts of how she used her wartime training to bamboozle the German police in the 50/60s who arrested her on suspicion of espionage for UK using charity cover.

    It wasn't just German police she gave the lexicobamboozle treatment.

    So my experience is also that even when you can clearly read what is in the statement it still does not pin meaning down !


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.