Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday Ramble Royal Sands Development Ramsgate Pleasurama and so on

I will endeavour to add to this a the day goes on in the normal manner, that is between children F1 bits of shopping and even a walk if the weather clears up for a bit.

I didn’t post last week, for a number of reasons, top of the list was that most of what I did manage to write was fairly depressing, spending cuts, failings of the council and so on.

Pleasurama one again and it’s just the Royal Sands of embarrassment as far as I can see, a sort of emperors new clothes situation that can only happen where government is involved.

I have to discuss this thing with councillors and council officers where it is as though if they comply with all their rules and regulations this will hold back the sea and hold up the cliff.
The flood risk situation is best expressed by the development next to it being built on a metre high plinth, this is to keep the high tide out of the building, something that won’t be a problem for the Pleasurama development with its floor a metre lower, the sea is to be held back by a planning regulation.
The business with the cliff is equally absurd, after several weeks of my concerns that a lose bit of the cliff will fall on someone and kill them the council have finally put fencing at the bottom of the cliff stopping people from going where the lumps of cement have been falling.

Apparently this isn’t because there is any danger to the public, my email to them below in blue.

Unfortunately despite the work carried out on the cliff façade by TDC on 8th October (removing vegetation lose masonry from the portal blockwork on site and from the area either side of the site boundary at the eastern end of the site) more of the render has come away from the façade, I think over the last couple of days.
One again this is over the site boundary, so any of it that falls to the ground will do so from about 50 feet and probably land partly on the site and partly on the public highway.
There is a ledge immediately below the part I can see that has come away which may prevent part or all of it from falling to the ground, I would think this would depend on how far up the delamination extends.
As you know my concern is that the rapid deterioration of this part of the façade is due to the blocked drainage and damaged surface above it and my main concern is that water has entered this part of the cliff making its stability uncertain.
I am also concerned that both the council and the council’s advising engineers Jacobs have a considerable vested interest in the cliff façade within the site boundary being shown to be in good condition. I am further concerned that any survey of the cliff by ***** or the councils engineers after the main contract to repair and coat the façade would be influenced by the liability were the cliff to found defective.
I am also uncertain as to the situation relating to work on the site, by this I mean that all work on the site seems to have stopped since the weekend 2nd 3rd October when the piece of render fell off.
Is it your contention that it is safe to work on the site at the moment?
I have attached a picture with the loose part outlined in red, the render seems to be about 50 mm away from the brickwork behind, because the surface of the render hasn’t cracked this suggests that the delamination extends some considerable way up.
I am asking that you take the following action.
1 Cordon off and sign the effected area until the problem is investigated.
2 Institute a weight limit topside.
3 Investigate the localised area and remove the lose render.
4 Arrange for a full and independent survey of the cliff behind the site extending beyond the site to Augusta Stairs.
5 Please register this as official customer feedback.
Best regards Michael
Their reply below in red.
Dear Mr Child
Customer Feedback Reference:22375/1533347
Thank you for your recent communication which was received on 2nd November.
The section of render to which you refer was noted as being delaminated during
the inspection on 8th October, it is not a new defect and due to its size and
location was not considered to pose an immediate Health and Safety risk.
The inspection undertaken on the 8th October did not suggest any more serious
issues were present however the Council intends to carry out a further
inspection of the wall to test the bond strength of the render over the whole of
the rendered surface. To ensure that the whole surface is tested thoroughly it
will be more appropriate to use a scaffold to provide access. Any further loose
areas will be identified and removed through this work and repairs can then be
carried out to all such areas as necessary.
The area of unmade ground immediately below the cliff has been fenced to allow
these works to be carried out. I would like to thank you for your interest in
this issue. Whilst I cannot agree with your hypothesis on the cause of the
delaminated render your concern and reporting of the issue is appreciated.
We hope that this resolves the matter to your satisfaction.
If you are not happy with our response, you may write to us with your reasons
within the next ten working days, requesting a further review.
In order for us to respond as efficiently as possible, please ensure that you
quote the above reference number and address your communication to ******
- Customer Feedback Co-ordinator, Regeneration Services.
Yours sincerely
Building Control and Property Manager
Both pictures were taken today, due to the weather they are a bit gloomy, it’s easier to see what I mean if you click on them to enlarge them.
Anyway at least the whole of this dodgy bit of cliff is cordoned off so that it is difficult for the public to get below it.
Sorry I am not having a very good time with internet publishing at the moment and some of my line spacing isn’t appearing.

How I reply to the council on this one I just don’t know, the cliff is clearly dangerous and the firm of experts that they employ at great expense have said quite clearly that bits of it have foundations where they just don’t.
Some sort of expert opinion of the condition of the cliff before people have to live below it doesn’t seem much to ask.
Much talk about benefits at the moment with housing benefit near the top of the list.
The whole benefit thing was a bit on the odd side from my point of view inasmuch as the various tax allowances for having a family were replaced by various benefits and it took me some time to realise this, at some considerable cost.

I will ramble on about how benefits may have effected shops for a bit, sort of unclarified thoughts.

The housing benefit has rather a peculiar side effect in the part of Ramsgate where I live, I am not saying that it is deliberate just that it is what has happened.

The English were a nation of shopkeepers and King Street in Ramsgate was typical of this, now much of it has been converted into a residential street and it sometimes makes me wonder if we have become a nation of claimants.

While on the subject of shops I notice that the camera shop in Ramsgate is going to close, another victim of interesting times. As far as bookshops are concerned Canterbury Bookshop is closing next month, this is a secondhand and antiquarian shop, the last remaining Albion Bookshop, the secondhand one in Broadstairs seems likely to as well as the owner has recently died.

The problem here is a simple one based upon the value of buildings, and the way shop rents relate to this.

For many years the rent of a shop has been about 10% of the value of the building.

In Ramsgate and Margate a medium sized building on the edge of the town centre was worth about £40,000 or about £30,000 if it was in poor condition, the smaller ones that were a bit on the grotty side £20,000 or less, when I moved here just over 20 years ago.

No one much wanted to live on the edge of the town centres, as it is noisy at night so the flats over the shops didn’t really make much difference to the shop rents.

So a shop that you could live over the top of had a rent between about £40 and £150 per week, more in the town centre where rentals were more related to how busy the site is.

Now along comes grants to do up residential properties and housing benefit, combined with a lot of people who will live where they are told so long as the government pays the rent.
So a medium sized building on the edge of the town centre becomes worth about £200,000 converted into flats producing a rental of about £20,000 per year, all this for a part of the town where no one really wants to live.

There is a problem here too relating to housing benefit which is of course that the shopkeeper living in the whole building probably wouldn’t get it for the part of the building he lives in if his business produces a low income.
Fragmented town centres with relatively high rents during an economic crisis combined with the effect of the internet and out of town shopping on town centre shops, you could say we are in difficult times.


  1. At the current speed of things the cliff facing will fall down before the development starts. Unfortunately as always tdc are saying nothing is wrong and nothing is their fault.

  2. At the current speed of things the cliff facing will fall down before the development starts. Unfortunately as always tdc are saying nothing is wrong and nothing is their fault.


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