Thursday, 26 August 2010

Royal Sands Development, work to start on the Pleasurama site

I have been reliably informed that work on the site will start next month, the first stage will be to set up all the Portakabins site security and so on. This will be followed by the ground works, pile boring pipe laying and so on. Steel frame construction should start by 1st March 2011.

There seems to be some different opinions about what work is going to be done to the cliff façade, the nearest I can get at the moment is that the council will probably replace at least one more block panel and they may well weed it again.

There seems to be no doubt that the development will still be very close to the cliff, something that I am not at all happy about. There also doesn’t seem to have been a proper site-specific flood risk assessment.

Over the past six years during which I have had an interest in this development there have been several announcements that work on it was either going to start, or even in one case that it had already started, frankly on those occasions I was unconvinced.

This time the information has come from two sources, one from within the council and another from the contractor that actually intends to carry out the building work.


I can only say that I am fairly convinced that work is actually going to start this time.

At the moment what I shall be pressing for is some sort of drop in session, at some prominent and accessible venue in Ramsgate, so that local people get some chance to get some idea of what is going to be built, what building materials are going to be used and so on.

One very important factor that seems never to have been properly addressed is what it is going to look like from above and how the view from the bandstand area of the cliff is going to be effected.

The two main concerns with this development are the development’s safety and appearance and I think it would be fair to say that were the plans, that I understand are going to be built to, presented today, they would be rejected on both counts.

My main safety concern relates to the stability of the chalk cliff and the condition of the concrete cliff façade, however I don’t think this would count for much even were the plans to be presented today.

I won’t go into this in detail again here, pretty much everyone in Ramsgate must know the council have spent around a million pounds on having the cliff façade repaired and painted. Anyone who wants to can look at the condition of it now and make up their own mind as to whether or not they think the work is satisfactory.

The safety consideration that would have had to be addressed were the plans to be presented today is the flood risk, the environment agency have designated this as a flood risk area.

The following is what they have to say about it:

“The land is in an area that has a significant chance of flooding which means that the chance of flooding each year is greater than 1.3 percent (1 in 75). This takes into account the effect of any flood defences that may be in this area.”

Anyone who missed their assessment of the site can read it at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/

The bottom line here is that if the planning application was made today a professional assessment of the flood risk would have to be carried out and its recommendations adhered to.

The council tell me that they have ticked all the right boxes that were required when the planning application was first made and there is nothing they can do to force a flood risk assessment to be carried out before the work starts.

Of course while the situation is as it is now, the development will to a lesser or greater extent be blighted as it is being built without following strong recommendations from the environment agency.

I find it particularly concerning that the developer appears to intend to proceed in this manner, after all a flood risk assessment could show there was no problem or could require relatively minor modifications to the design.

To go ahead with a twenty million project without first having this assessment done seems like driving a Ferrari around without insurance, in fact it just doesn’t make sense.


Since the plans were first submitted there have also been additional restrictions to what can be built adjacent to a conservation area and I don’t think that the plans would comply with these either.

Oddly enough when the opportunity to pull out of this development came up last year, because the developer had failed to comply with aspects of the development agreement. The decision was put to the council cabinet with a recommendation from the council’s director of finance to pull out.

Well I suppose we all know what happened and I would say that the decision to continue with the development rests firmly with our elected representatives.
It’s my day off today and I will add to this post as and when I get time.

18 comments:

  1. is this for real or just a fob off

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  2. Why can't OUR Council Officers, who receive their wages from OUR taxes, let US know on OUR website about OUR town!

    Perhaps they believe the most significant development in our town, on one of the most important sites is of no interest to us!

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  3. Plenty left to run in this TDC saga.

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  4. DJA I think so.

    13.40 frustrating I know, I think that over a period of time the council officers position relating to this development has become one of mostly not wishing to be too closely involved with it.

    I think at the beginning the intentions were probably good and that the initial project that involved Whitbreads would have been beneficial to Ramsgate.

    At some point during the change of administration the plans changed and Whitbreads pulled out, since then there has been a gradual understanding that the development is seriously flawed.

    The trouble is that our system of planning, local government and the advantages to the developer means that it is very difficult to back out.

    As I have said in the post an attempt was made at officer level to back out last year and this failed.

    Retired, we shall see, from my point of view a worst-case scenario would be if I am proved right and some disaster occurs involving a cliff collapse or tidal surge storm.

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  5. I should stop worrying. You won't be living there, tell relatives and friends not to move in there and just let the thing go ahead. I see no need in you worrying if it will flood or get squshed under a cliff fall. I will just be happy to see a building replace the mess, who lives in it doesn't worry me.

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  6. Anonymous 19:48 - That's OK if you don't care about Ramsgate's future, but we're losing a prime site to residential development that doesn't require a beach and sea views. This is all about financial greed, and it comes at my expense, and that of my children and grandchildren!

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  7. Even if the development goes ahead without the flood risk assessment, and close to the cliff face. Won't this have to be declared in the Construction Design & Management Regulations ?

    I understood that these regulations are used to alert those who will be owners, or operators of the new structure, to the risks which must be managed when the structure and associated plant is maintained, repaired, renovated or demolished. After handover, I gather the client is responsible for keeping the file up to date.

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  8. Anyone paying a bit extra for an environmental search will have the problems with this property highlighted.

    I live on the East Cliff and when I bought my house a few years ago my Ipswich based solicitor told me in very serious tones 'you know it's only 150 metres from a flood plain, don't you?' I had to inform him the 'flood plain' in question was the English Channel, and that fortunately the house was on a cliff 150 feet above it.

    No such favourable location for Royal Sands though and the poor sods who don't pay for an environmental search will be buying a pup.

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  9. The last time I bought a house, my solicitor sent me an environmental report including details of flood risks and other environmental issues.

    I don't recall asking for this or being charged (extra) for it. Maybe it depends on your solicitor whether or not you get this for free.

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  10. Posters here fail to mention two other important factors - insurance for the building, the commercial property contents and the private residents contents, as well as mortgages and business loans.

    As a banker, I would not give any mortgages or loans fit properties on the ground floor. Although the council are happy to give consent without a flood risk assessment, I would not allow borrowing against a property so close and low to the sea.

    Insurers will have a similar issue.

    Ask the harbour parade businesses about their insurance cover post the most recent flood. If they have any, it will not be renewed.

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  11. I am sure potential new residents could walk a few hundred yards along the front to speak to those already living down there and see who they use for home insurance. People are already living in those houses amid 'devastating rock falls, collapsing roads and floods'

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  12. As part of the covenants in the site leases, the *developer* has to insure the building. I would expect that the (sub)leases for the flats will have a clause saying that the developer is responsible for taking out the insurance and that the flat owners are liable to pay their share of the costs for this.

    I would expect that the developers will take out a block policy for the entire complex, or for each of the major parts of this: hotel, residential etc. The overall policy would be substantial, and the developers will be in a far better bargaining position with the insurers than the owners of the individual flats.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. with all his hate of r/gate T.G shuol leave the area he so dislikes

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  15. Sorry 15.43 I don’t mind you accusing me if insanity and spelling my name wrong, if it is your only argument for building this development without the basic safety requirements stipulated by the environment agency, perhaps it give you some sort of solace.

    But anonymous comment naming local people and calling them insane is not allowed here.

    Here is the 15.43s comment with the name deleted: "You are becoming a bit obsessed by this. xxx xxx became obsessed by the airport development and I see on his latest blog, he also sees the sea port also as a polluting waste of money that should be closed down. The bloke is clearly mad! so mind your step Micheal, you may end up the same."

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  16. It has been a long day I will try to respond to the comments here and try not to be too flippant.

    19.48 There is always the possibility that I may make friends with someone living there.

    20.04 I think we may need to consider at this point the probability that this prime site is going to be developed in this way.

    20.38 I am assuming that TDC building control are satisfied that the regulations have been complied with as they have assured me that the development is going ahead.

    22.52 The cliff is about 75 feet high at its highest. I believe the land registry certificate will contain the environment agency’s document saying “The land is in an area that has a significant chance of flooding which means that the chance of flooding each year is greater than 1.3 percent (1 in 75). This takes into account the effect of any flood defences that may be in this area.”

    Gerald I believe this is normal practice now.

    7.11 my understanding is that all of the sewage car park and road drainage will go into the already dubious drainage system serving Harbour Parade, it doesn’t really sound wise.

    I also wonder how the businesses down there will survive in the winter and with no car parking spaces allocated to their customers.

    When I said in the post, blighted, I was including insurance.

    8.16 the rock falls there have presented considerable problems in the past see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts11/id14.htm and in the 1953 storm a 12 ton crane that had been working on the beach was swept over the sea defence into the middle of the site. I think the problem here is that major devastation in this part of Ramsgate only occurs every 50 or 69 years the problem previous to 1953 was the storm of 1897 which demolished most of the buildings down there, so I don’t think any residents down there would be old enough to have been effected.

    Gerald again, I expect you are right, I wonder what happens if they can’t get insurance.

    15.59 you’ve lost me.

    All that remains is me sorting out 15.59 in the middle of a busy day I can assure anyone interested that I am finding exposure to the Katzenklavier therapeutic, see http://thanetblogs.blogspot.com/2010/05/is-blogging-activity-for-insane-i-have.html

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  17. Actually start rebuilding the old studio / restaurant - not taking more off it, return the Granville Marina to it's former glory with the fantastic tiled rooves, restore our shelters, give us back our 120 year old Marina theatre / nightclub, turn the old pavilion into an indoor swimming pool to replace our loss of the Marina pool.... and you can have your un-required apartments on Pleasurama. Over-wise it is just pure greed. The old shelter and lift site in Viking Bay would appear to be next...

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  18. David, regeneration of deprived areas is often triggered by developers and businesses taking the initial risk and not councils, new developments often bring further initiatives and allow new businesses to flourish resulting in increased employment, spend and revenue. A percentage of the increased revenues becoming available to local government for inward investment and thereby leading to local improvements and services such as swimming pools, lifts, shelters, etc.

    Putting aside the cliff, drainage, flood risk comments; if and when the Royal Sands development is completed further investors will undoubtedly be attracted to the area and this can only benefit the local community, clearly there are areas of historic interest and value which need to be protected but such protection should be balanced with the needs of and aspirations of the community as a whole.

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