A bit more information has come my way and here it is.
Today started with the information that the last date to comment on this application was this coming Tuesday, information about this application differs depending on who you ask.
I have since discovered directly from the planning case officer that last date you can comment is 1st of October.
For Ramsgate this application is a watershed and the choice is between having a working boatyard in the town and a single isolated slipway with a very small workshop. The main distinction is between a working harbour and a leisure marina.At the moment we have four slipways combined with a large workshop and yard area.
The intention is to turn most of this in to a restaurant and bar complex.
More information and pictures at http://www.ramsgateslipways.co.uk/ and http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet planning ref L/TH/10/0736
No. 1 Slip - 60 MTRS LONG X 12 MTRS BEAM
700 TON DISPLACEMENT
This is the main slipway, mostly used for plating, painting and repairs to small cargo vessels. Very roughly it is not available for use about half of the time, by this I mean it either has a ship on it or is down for maintenance.
No. 2 Slip - 36.6 MTRS LONG X 7.5 MTRS BEAM
100 TON DISPLACEMENT
The council surveyed this in April 2009 and declared it unfit for use.
No. 3 Slip - 15.3 MTRS LONG X 5.5 MTRS BEAM
50 TON DISPLACEMENT
The firm that operates the slipways recently spent quite a bit, rumoured to be about £50,000 repairing this and rebuilding the cradle.
No. 4 Slip - COVERED SLIPWAY 16.5 MTRS LONG X 4 MTRS BEAM
20 TON DISPLACEMENT
This is a small vessel slipway that takes vessels into the workshop and was largely replaced by the marina’s boatlift.
No. 5 Workshop - MULTI-DISCIPLINE FACILITIES AND PROJECT OFFICES
The general stance from the slipway operator has been that slipways 2, 3 and 4 are not profitable but slipway 1 is. I don’t really know if this is based on some sort of commercial evidence, certainly none seems to be available. I would think that the harbour’s lift has had an impact there see http://www.portoframsgate.co.uk/welcome_to_the_marina/booking_berths__fees/boat_lifting_charges_2010.aspx
Another consideration that comes into this is the future of the maritime museum, the historic vessel pontoon and how these integrate with the historic boatyard next door.
I suppose my assumption was that slipways 2 and 3 with their World War 2 heritage status would have had a part to play in this, I would assume that grant funding would have been readily available, particularly as the original wartime 1942 winding equipment is still there and working, something I assume is fairly unique. What I expected to see was these being used for modern boat repairs and historic boat restorations, providing a backdrop to our emerging café culture.
There is a bit of a balancing act here, on the one hand when it comes to what Ramsgate has to offer that makes it different from other towns is its unique heritage, something that is much more evident in most parts of the town than is usual.
On the other hand a working boatyard does produce noise and dust and to some people may be seen as a bit of a nuisance in the middle of our emerging café culture.
Another aspect here is the wind farm operators both Thanet Offshore Wind Farm and the London Array, the smaller slipways are ideal for the maintenance of their support craft. At the moment slipway 3 is used for this for much of the time.
A major factor in the decision about what happens here will depend the comment from local people both those supporting and those objecting to this application. At the moment my information is that no one whatsoever has commented at all.
The developer has recently restored The Custom House, something that I think most people would consider has been fairly successful, although in this case it puts the town council in the difficult position, that is should they wish to object to the application to demolish the slipways, as this application is being made by their landlord.
The developer also recently demolished The Granville Marina Restaurant, I would say that most people would consider that this restoration project has been less successful.
I should make it clear that the application that one has to consider is one to demolish the slipways and although there are potential development plans attached to the application, their approval isn’t being sought at this time.
There are several aspects of this potential development that concern me, the first being that the land has already changed hands.
The council own the freehold and the lease to the yard operator for the whole site was a twenty year lease dating from 1990. The developer paid the yard operator £90,000 for the remaining 10 years leasehold, for the part of the site that the development is to be built on, so the land registry now records two leases from the council.
This is unusual as normally there would be a sublease from the yard operator to the developer. It would seem unlikely that the developer would wish to construct an expensive development with only a ten year lease.
There is also a rumour that the council intend to grant the developer a 120 year lease, normally any lease over 25 years would be seen as an asset disposal and therefore have to go through the council procedures and scrutiny associated with this.
This rule doesn’t apply in some cases where tenants already hold long leases, however I am uncertain of the position should the council wish to use this exception in this case.
There are also likely to be conditions attached to the lease stipulating what this site can be used for.
There is also the problem of what could be done with the remaining slipway and the smaller workshop facilities, you can see from the plan above that the proposed bar and restaurant complex is very close to the slipway. As I have already pointed out work on vessels rends to be dusty and noisy.
Considering that a normal high tide comes up to the bottom of the slipway cradles when they are at the top of the slipways and the new workshop is much smaller, it is difficult to see where normal ship repair operations like bending a ships steel plate to shape could take place.
You can also see that what remains of slipways 2 3 and 4 would be submerged at high water, so they would not be of any use for anything.
The listed status of the slipways, in fact all of the harbour is somewhat fragmented and appears to be out of date, here it is:
“RAMSGATE ROYAL HARBOUR
TR 36 SE + TR 3864 NW
East Pier, No. 1
30.10.85 and Victoria or
Harbour pier, slipway and bollards. Circa 1750 to 1792; built in part round
the old pier. Later repairs. Thomas Preston, Harbour mason. Extension or
advanced pier to south west c.1788, with Smeaton as designer and engineer:
pier head repaired 1812-14 by John Rennie. Faced with granite; stepped
granite to inner walls, roll moulded outer wall below parapet. Stone flag
paving, largely covered now with C20 paving. Thirty eight painted granite
bollards along inner wall. Radial pattern paving slabs at pier head. No.
1 slipway against east pier inner face is a Morton's Patent Slipway of 1838
with travelling cradle running on inclined rails above granite sets,
originally steam operated. Victoria or Dover stairs of granite, 1831 against
inner face of East pier. (See Busson, chap. 3; also Maritime Thanet,
Listing NGR: TR3812864526”
What protection is affords in this case is uncertain, I suppose that most people assumed that the harbour would be better listed.
Something that also concerns me is that the delays in granting the maritime museum a lease, means that the people closest to this development are not in occupation and therefore not in a position to make the comments about the development that would hold the most weight, in terms of planning law.
With the pavilion vacant on the other side, the site has no immediate neighbours available to comment, a situation that makes the site vulnerable to unsuitable development.