Monday, 8 August 2011

The Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate a reappraisal.

 For those of you unfamiliar with this ongoing building site in Ramsgate I will do my best to fill you in to start with.

If you want a lot of detail, click on this link http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/search/label/Pleasurama%20development?updated-max=2011-02-25T16%3A45%3A00Z&max-results=20 and every time you get to the bottom of a page of posts click on the “Older Posts” link. If you want to go back even further, I was writing about this development before I started this blog and this link takes you to that http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/

For those who want a quick résumé of the last ten years of building site, here it is.

The site belongs to Thanet District Council and for most of the past 100 years formed Ramsgate’s main leisure site, in a similar way to the way Dreamland in Margate was the main leisure site there.

Anyway about ten years ago the council decided to join with Whitbread and SFP Venture Partners to build a hotel, residential and retail development there.

Work was to start on thing in 2002 and be completed in 2003, unfortunately Whitbread pulled out of the project.

Anyway the council decided to go forward with the project just with SFP, at the time SFP was a purely offshore company and even to this time I have never been able to find any evidence that they have ever produced a development of any sort.

I think that the problems have really stemmed from this decision, over the years SFP have engaged various contractors to do both design work and construction work, but the problem that there is no experienced developer behind the project comes back to haunt us.

The site, situated between a tall cliff with a history of problems effecting its stability and the sea with a history of storms engulfing the site, is a very demanding site to build on.

Neither the problems relating to the cliff that the council have already spent £1m on, or the problems relating to storm flooding, which the Environment Agency have made safety recommendations about, have been satisfactorily resolved.

Various contractors have done work on aspects of the development and then pulled out before completing the contract.

Eventually so many deadlines schedules and financial obligations had failed to be met that the council officers put the issue to the council cabinet on the 16th June 2009. The officers put two courses of action to the cabinet one of which was to pull out of the agreement with SFP for failure to comply, this was the option that the officers recommended. The other was to go ahead with reduced financial guarantees and a new schedule for the building work.
 The cabinet decided to continue with the developer and reduced financial guarantees and a deed of variation to the development agreement was agreed setting out a new timetable. Click on the link to read this document http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/pda/id17.htm

Once again the work on the site isn’t following the timescale agreed with the council, added to this instead of pile boring foundations down into the solid chalk as was originally expected the developer has laid shallow foundations down onto the old sand beach.

I wondered what the council’s building control department, that had recently insisted that the adjacent development was “piled bored” well and truly screwed down to the chalk bedrock below. Apparently the council are not in charge of building control for the Royal Sands Development, although they do have a new search facility on their website where you can find out who is at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/environment__planning/building_control_case_search/case_search_facility.aspx this reveals:
Case Number IN/83246/10
Case Status Decided
Decision Pass plans unconditionally all types
Decision Date 15/09/2010
Case Details 
Case Description New Development Comprising 107 Apartments 82 Bedroom Hotel 4 Retail Units And Health/Fitness Centre
Applicant Name Sfp Ventures (Uk) Ltd
Agent Name Harwood Building Control Approve Inspectors Ltd 
Case Officer Paul Morgan

Harwood Building Control are a local firm however there is no reference to the development on their website http://www.harwood.uk.com

We also have a new architect, mentioned on the signage at the site, John Sime & Associates/ Alan Butcher are quoted as the designers, although no new plans have been submitted to the council.

In the past when I have voiced concerns about the buildings design, particularly those aspects related to flood risk and cliff stability many of the reassurances that I have had related to the council acting as building control.

The overall understanding being that this was to be a pile bored development with a steel cage, seems to have changed to a building constructed using shallow foundation pads resting on the old sand beach, with the very small part of the cage that has appeared so far being constructed of ferro concrete.

Anyway at the moment we have a development agreement amended to say that the pile boring should be completed by the later date of 31st august 2010 and that at the moment there should be a considerable amount of the structural framework completed, obviously this hasn’t happened.

I have had an ongoing dialogue with the council over this development going back over about nine years, during which time officers dealing with the issue have come and gone.

Anyway back in February I escalated this to a foi request.
 THE CORRESPONDENCE

Emails from me in blue, from the council in red and the contractor in green. 

www.thanet.gov.uk
email customer.services@thanet.gov.uk


>>> 23/02/11 16:22 >>>
Please treat this as an  official customer feedback request.
This is essentially a general enquiry about  the Royal Sands Development on the old Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.  

1 Please send me any addition  information about this development that I haven’t requested below, because I am  unaware of its existence. 

It would appear that some work  has occurred on the site during the last month, but obviously this work doesn’t  relate to the development agreement schedules and conditions of the various  leases contained in it.

2 Does this mean that the leases are now invalid and the development agreement is to be determined?

3 Or does it mean that there has been an updated agreement with new schedules? 

If the development is going ahead, either to a new schedule or is being allowed under some other flexible arrangement: 

4 Can you please supply me with a revised building schedule?

5 Can you please tell me which of the approved plans the development is to be built to and if these plans are published on the council’s planning website?

6 Can you please send me details of the public information sessions that were promised once work started on the site?

7 Can you please send me any updated information on the cliff safety issue? Details and dates of the promised cliff top weight limit, correspondence between the council, the HSE, the developer, cliff survey and maintenance schedule, any cliff survey reports, any agreements for cliff maintenance between the council and the developer.

8 Can you please send me details of any flood, storm or emergency escapes incorporated in the development as a result of the EA recommendations 8th Feb 2008.

9 If the artists impressions, details of roof material and other building materials for the building to be built, are different to  those described on the councils planning website, due to the various different  plans and in consequence plans being used that no longer relate to the ancillary details, can you please send me the details of these changes?
10 If the plans that are to be used no longer relate to all of the planning and design statement, can you please send me revisions to the planning and design statement?
Please confirm your receipt of this request?
Best regards  Michael

Subject: Thanet District Council - Your Information Request Response
Date: 08/03/2011 13:14:29 GMT Daylight Time
From: ****
Reply To: 
To: MichaelChild@aol.com


Ref No: 26393 / 1650743

Dear Mr Child

Thank you for your communication received on 24/02/2011 09:00:09 where you requested information about the Pleasurama or Royal Sands deevelopment.

In response to your questions I can comment as follows:

1 There has been some early slippage in terms of works undertaken to comply with the terms of the development agreement. The construction works are however now starting to claw back time lost earlier in the construction programme and progress is now being made on site. There is no amended agreement with the developers and no action is presently anticipated in relation to determine the development agreement, neither has there been a request for a revised build schedule.

1a I will request a revised programme from the developer who has indicated that he will be aiming to adhere to the programme.

1b I will also request that the developer establishes a public information programme.

2 No recent amendments have been proposed to the design of the building and no alterations have been made in response to the Environment Agencies correspondence with the developer in 2008. Any amendments would need to be considered through the planning process.

In 2008 and 2009 we received plans to comply with conditions of the planning permission that were approved in January 2009. These proposals did not result in material alterations to the approved building and I recall providing you with those drawings following receipt. I can confirm that no subsequent amendments have been proposed to the building since that time. In terms of the planning and design statement I consider the scheme still complies with the principles of the original submission.

3 I can confirm that the HSE have considered the cliff survey. In an email to the Council they have confirmed they do not intend to pursue this matter. They have requested that the Council draws up a programme and regime for the future maintenance of the cliff face. This matter is in hand.

Yours sincerely,
******
Major Developments Manager


Subject: Ref 26393 / 1650743
Date: 25/05/2011
From: 
Reply To: 
To: customer.services@thanet.gov.uk

Hi there I refer to my previous feedback request (below) Ref No: 26393 / 1650743 and the promises made in the response.

Work on the site has been progressing very slowly, looking more like a delaying tactic to keep the developers option open and now appears to have stopped altogether.

I have numbered ***’s responses for clarity and am now asking for an update on this issue.

Firstly a general what is going on update.  

1 As there is obviously no intention now of complying with the development agreement schedule, no obvious claw back is occurring progress seems to be sporadic with very few workers on site and no sign of much investment, when does the council intend some action to determine the development agreement?

1a Have you received a revised programme from the developer? If you have please supply me with a copy.

1b Can you provide me with a copy of the a public information programme

2 I understand that considerable have been made to the building design since the latest plans on the council’s planning website, can you please confirm this?  

3 have the Council drawn up a programme and regime for the future maintenance of the cliff? face

Dear Mr Child

Thank you for your further communications which have been received following your initial information request of 24/02/2011 regarding the Royal Sands Development.

I would apologise for the delay in sending this response but as I am sure that you will appreciate, without detailed knowledge of the Development Agreement there was a need for considerable research into the agreement and related correspondence before I was able to reply. With regard to your request for details of officer responsibility for this development I would advise that as acting Estates Manager I will be the most appropriate point of contact until a permanent appointment is made.

The specific information you requested is as follows and is numbered in accordance with your request..

1.    No records are held of changes to the development agreement on this issue.

1a.    No records of a revised programme are held .

1b.    No records of a public information programme are held.

2.    No material alterations to the approved scheme have been proposed or         approved.

3.    Following the refurbishment work undertaken in 2008 and 2009 a programme     of inspections will commence in October this year. The future programme will     be developed following these inspections and until these are carried out the     information that you have requested is not held.

Yours sincerely,

*****
Building Control Manager 
 I also asked the contractor what was going on.

Hi *****

I am just about to do a blog post reviewing the progress of the Pleasurama development, and as you probably remember there was going to be some sort of public information program once the development started.

I will be posting about the perceived ongoing delay, compared with the development agreement and the differences in construction method, compared to the pile boring we were expecting, but mostly about the lack of public information about the project.

Essentially a what’s going on with Pleasurama post, working under the assumption that as very little is happening, both in terms of investment and progress, suggesting that what is really going on is a delaying tactic to keep the option of commencing development proper open. I will also be saying that the lack of public information is because there is probably no positive information for the public and that we are likely to be reaching the grinding that we have had with previous contractors.

This is really just a courtesy email in case you had some sort of different view on the matter or some sort of positive news on the matter, that would change the flavour of the post.

Best regards Michael

Websites
Dear Michael

Thank you for your email.

I am pleased to confirm that the Development is currently on target to be completed ahead of the dates detailed within the development agreement.

There has indeed been very positive interest in the scheme and a large proportion of the residential units have  already been sold off plan with many more under offer.

The Hotel site is also under offer to a very well known Hotel group which is all very good news for the local economy.

From a contractors point of view we are very happy with the timescales that have been set and certainly this project will provide much needed work within the industry for many local tradesmen over the next 18 months or so.

Kind Regards

*****

The heath and safety notification pinned up by the site entrance describes the development as starting on 1st May 2010 and lasting for 104 weeks with 200 people working on the site.

So far we are about 60 weeks into this period with an average of about 3 or 4 people working on the site, so it seems fairly obvious that things are not going to plan.

Reading the correspondence so far, it seems in need of some sort of interpretation, perhaps if it would have taken 200 people 2 years to build it, it will take four people 100 years.  



It is possible that the contractor genuinely thinks that the development is on target, this is a very worrying thought.


Of course the land is still owned by the council and reading their last response I would guess that they will have to take some sort of action, this is a large publicly owned site and they have already invested £1m in cliff repair work there, so there must come a point where the council are obliged to generate some sort of return for this site. 

In all of this I think the developers most serious error though has been the absence of the public information program that was promised, there seems to be no sense whatever of trying to take local people along with this major development on publicly owned land.

It would now seem unlikely that there will ever be a program of public information, as the promises relating to this seem to have been made and verbal agreements with council officers who have now left the council.


Is suppose the real problem now, is where do we go from here?

Ten years is a very long time for a developer to be engaged with a council owned site without producing a viable development.

Obviously many people in Ramsgate are not happy about this development, partly due to concerns over the height of the building and the effect on the view from the cliff top, partly because this has traditionally been Ramsgate’s key leisure site.

My own concerns have concentrated on the developments safety as it falls between a cliff with a history of stability problems and the sea with a history of tidal surge storms and wave overtopping.

Neither the council nor the developer ever seem to have properly addressed the environment agency’s concerns relating to storm protection and pedestrian escapes. On a more practical level anyone who saw the repairs to the cliff shortly after the council had spent £1m on repairing it and had pronounced it safe, will be aware the cliff façade condition is unpredictable and needs more than the 5 metre gap between the cliff and the building to repair.

So far since the £1m contract to repair the cliff, cliff maintenance work there has had to be carried out on two occasions because I have pointed out dangerous looking parts of the cliff wall.      

My own feelings are that both the developer and the council should have noticed cracks in the cliff wall and lose bits of masonry before I did and that in an ongoing sense, with people working and living so close to such a high cliff, much more interest should be taken in the cliff condition.

The weight limit for vehicles using the top of the cliff, that the council promised to instigate several years ago, still hasn’t been imposed, something I also find cause for considerable concern.

The flood and storm protection is a difficult one, neither the council nor the developer appears to have had the flood risk assessment strongly recommended by the environment agency, carried out.

The flood risk assessment for the adjacent build (Granville Marina Restaurant) resulted in a pile bored development with a base line about 1 metre higher. Historically the site is known to have been subject to wave overtopping and damage, the sea defence in front of the site seems to have been made up in bits and pieces since the 1860s when this part of the beach was raised with the chalk spoil from the tunnel excavation to provide a site for the station.

40 comments:

  1. I have read your recent post and thank you for posting a copy of the Development agreement. I had not been able to view this previously. However having quickly reviewed this agreement it is very evident that the project is indeed ON schedule. Clause 19.1.2 states that the development will be complete by the target date of the 28th February 2014. I would estimate a 2 year build for this size of project. Therefore on that basis the project will be completed well ahead of the Feb 2014 date. It is further noted that in the event of a market downturn Clause 19.1.3 of the agreement allows the developer until 2017 to complete the scheme. Given the current global economic climate such extended entitlement could not be questioned. The council and the devloper should be applauded therefore if they manage to complete to the original 2014 date.

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  2. retired engineerAugust 08, 2011 7:30 pm

    Michael - you appear to be getting confused between Planning drawings and working drawings.

    Planning drawings do not provide detailed information on the type of foundation design anticipated. The solution that the contractor has chosen appears to be very efficient and allows repetition in the type of shuttering selected. Certainly given your previous comments in respect to the cliff face I would have thought that it is very obvious why the contractor has chosen a design that avoids pile driving equipment.

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  3. 1921 there is more documentation at http://thanetonline.com/cliff/ another series of linked pages. Interesting that you reckon the development could be finished by 2014, as initially we were promised one finished by 2003, I tend not to be too optimistic about this one.

    I think the real problem stems from the fact that building between the cliff face and the sea is more demanding than almost any other location, I don’t think a residential development in this sort of location has ever been constructed in the way they intend to. I don’t think the economic climate is really the problem here as if the development could be achieved and overcome the safety problems associated with the site, the apartments would be very desirable indeed.

    Apologies Retired Engineer, over the years I have become so familiar with this development and the numerous documents relating to it that I tend to assume others are familiar with the design restrictions, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/id2.htm

    This combined with the cliff instability problems is essentially why the council’s building control insisted on the adjacent recent development being pile bored in to the virgin chalk below and a metre higher.

    Why Jacobs recommend pile boring too, see the principle condition report, at http://thanetonline.com/cliff/id2.htm

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  4. In the mean time visitors like me to Ramsgate come once and dont return.

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  5. 08:44

    Its you that need to get a life!!

    Its very clear that TDC can only get bad developments in Thanet - in fact they proliferate due to planning/asset disposals mismanagement at TDC?

    One only needs to look at the issues of the Manston road allotments to have clear understanding why TDC should be removed by the current government as not fit for purpose?

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  6. And who's the Cabinet member in charge of asset management and asset disposal?

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  7. 09:47 good question who is it!!!!

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  8. Excuse my ignorance, but what's "the issues of the Manston road allotments" exactly?

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  9. Peter as far as I remember TDC sold them for £2.1m just after they spent £900,000 on a fence around them.

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  10. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say “get a life” I would ask whether you glass is half full or half empty? It appears whatever the subject the inevitable air of Sinicism comes to the fore.

    The former Pleasurama Site has been a blot on what is a very special and attractive coastline. An agreement exists that allows an attractive building to be constructed by a highly regarded building contractor, completion dates have been agreed with a note that should markets see a sever downturn the completion date could be extended. All pretty straight forward….

    So rather than telling me things I already understand, please explain why you and the majority of your usual bloggers cannot see this development with at least a modicum of optimism?

    The derelict site will be transformed into an attractive building

    The local economy will benefit from employment generated during its construction

    On completion local businesses will benefit from increased trade

    The seafront retail units will be extended along the promenade

    The hotel on completion will benefit the local economy by providing jobs and income from visitors

    As for the statement regarding sales, Michael in this time of economic uncertainty as a book seller if you noted a downturn in sales how much of your own money would you risk in purchasing new stock?

    We have and continue to suffer from the deepest depression in the market since the 1920’s the fact that this development is even happening should be applauded.

    I have first hand knowledge of the professionalism and respect Cardy Construction have within the Kent area and I am confident that changes regards to the foundations would have been fully addressed by their consultants. In fact I’d go so far as to say, why would/ should anyone question a design change or programme just be thankful that in these times of uncertainty there are still people out there with enough optimism to be willing to take the risk.

    And my glass remains half full!

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  11. Anon 18.50 I can see where you are coming from, I was quite optimistic when I saw a start on site and I acknowledge Cardy's good reputation.

    However the four operatives employed on site at the moment are hardly likely to have a great impact on the economics of the town and the progress of works to date would give an estimated completion date of 2100.

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  12. 18.50 I suppose that while on the one hand you appear to know a reasonable amount about the development the fact that on the other hand you are only prepared to support it in a public forum anonymously only really adds to my concerns.

    I also have considerable respect for Cardy’s and frankly I expected to see a pile boring crew on site last year and the cage mostly complete as per the deed of variation.

    What worries me most though is that the Environment Agency expert says there should be a safety assessment of this Victorian railway site on reclaimed land and this has been ignored, not what you would expect in the circumstances.

    On the north Thanet coast we have another Victorian railway site, part of the same line in fact, in 1953 the sea washed out about four miles of railway track in one night.

    Ken Readit, I know you have fair understanding of the cliff stability once they get the other side of the arched part of the façade and I suppose a fair idea of what the sea defences are like there.

    I also assume you know what would normally happen in terms of pile boring and cage construction and as you say at the present rate the development will take about 100 years to complete, so how do you gauge what is actually going on there.

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  13. I thought 1850 sounded quite knowledgeable but then realised that his odd spelling of cynicism ("Sinicism") betrayed otherwise.
    1428, It's our very own Cllr Moores

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  14. About the Pleasurama Site: Why would I as a holiday maker come to Ramsgate to sit on the sands and look at a block of flats. I would want entertainment.

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  15. Tut tut John you'll make a councillor cross by stating the blindingly obvious

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  16. Though to be fair they'll be a far nicer block of flats than we've had on Margate seafront for nearly half a century...

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  17. Good point Peter although I suspect Margate's beach dwellers will be able to gaze upon their much wanted superstore long before Ramsgate's ones will be able to see their yuppie paradise (what is the 21st Century equivalent of "yuppie")

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  18. Thanks for picking me up on my spelling…

    For the record I’m not Cllr Moores and the fact I choose to remain anonymous is because I’d hate to be tarred with the same sceptic brush as the majority of the bloggers to this site.

    Maybe the words “Get a life” were relevant after all????

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  19. If Anon 18.50 is not cllr Moores then judging by his remarks at 18.06 "I’d hate to be tarred with the same sceptic brush as the majority of the bloggers to this site." then it must be his brother. Its the same style insulting language that the cllr uses.

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  20. Anonymous 1924, please understand that anonymous commentators by definition have very little in the way of credibility and cannot be offensive to real people here, unless you want your comments deleted out of hand I would I would recommend you stop being insulting.

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  21. He's not wrong though - Cllr Moores does resort to personal insult once he starts losing an argument.

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  22. "Peter as far as I remember TDC sold them for £2.1m just after they spent £900,000 on a fence around them."

    A £900,000 fence ?? Where's the proof of that ??

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  23. Manston allotments = false letters!!

    Read up on lGO cases TDC features!!

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  24. 1850, I think you miss the point entirely. Although the pleasurama development is currently coming slowly out of the ground during a recession, depression, whatever we are in, it sat idle through the greatest property/econominc boom (however false) this country has ever seen.

    If completion is strung out until 2017, it will have blotted a very important spot in Ramsgates seafront for almost two decades.

    Pardon us for being sceptical about TDC's ability to deliver, but you can only look at the evidence in front of you - total time to build,originally designed to go above the cliff face, changed design etc etc.

    Oh, and how well will flats and hotel rooms sell where our very own TDC Cabinet support 24 hour flying from the airport whose flightpath Royal Sands sits directly under? It remains to be seen.......

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  25. 1850, think of the opportunity lost for Ramsgate by Royal Sands failing to be completed by 2007/2008. It could be a potential 10 year delay in the benefits such a development could bring. That is inexcusable and those responsible should be removed from their positions.

    You can't change the past, but what you can do is ensure it doesn't repeat itself.

    Thanet's landscape is blotted with failed initiatives where they have been at the wheel - manston, dreamland, pleasurama, westwood (kill 3 towns for one new one) business parks turned into houses, countless HMO developmeents, houses converted to flats for social housing and many many more - all TDC's responsibility.

    The sooner we come under Canterbury Council, the better.

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  26. Sorry about not replying to comments in detail here, it was my day off yesterday and today is market day in Ramsgate, so I am otherwise occupied.

    The main problem with the development has I think been that that very little notice has been taken of the restrictions that relate to this particular site. The remit from the beginning has been to try and fit a five-story development between a 20 metre high cliff and a 7 metre high storm protection level that seems about the norm for new costal builds in this area.

    The Turner Contemporary stands on a proper sea defence that is about this high above the standard datum level used for building plans in the UK. The highest tides in this area at the moment are a little under 6 metres, but some allowance needs to be made for climate change and for breaking up the waves when we have a storm combined with a high tide.

    Most of the existing sea defences in Ramsgate belong to The Environment Agency and are about 6 metres high and in storms the waves break over them, not good place to be in a storm. These sea defences are concrete and extend down into the solid chalk, however the ones in front of the development belong to the council and seem to be more decorative than defensive.

    The cliff behind the development also poses problems, one being that the roof of the development is right next to the footpath, so it needs to designed in a way that looks reasonable from above, another consideration is the amount the development obscures the view.

    The stability and maintenance of the cliff is another consideration, not made easy because of the wartime activities, tunnelling, vibration caused by the guns there and so on. The cliff also suffered from years of poor maintenance.

    The architects designed what was a reasonably attractive modern building, with a reasonably sensible road layout beneath it, the only problem was that it was about 3 metres taller than the available space.

    Lopping the gull winged roof off to reduce the height has made the building ugly and putting the road in the narrow gap between the cliff and the back of the building so the height of the ground floor is much lower is a poor compromise.

    We are now I believe on the fourth contractor, the previous three have started with good intentions, did some work, mostly road layout and then pulled out, I think probably because the building wasn’t designed for the particular problems related to this site.

    The links I put in the comments above take you to the documentation, written by the qualified experts, detailing the problems.

    These problems are not insurmountable, but frankly bumbling along with out addressing them on what appears to be 100 year building program isn’t the answer.

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  27. As I regular visitor to Ramsgate, I would love to see this site completed. I have nothing against the developers and wish them every success.
    My concern, as Micheal has said, is the speed it is happening. The neighbouring resaurant site, admittedly much smaller, has been totally transformed in a matter of months, while the pleasurama site seems to have barely changed.
    A few times, I have seen apparent progress, but on looking closer it seems to be about one pile a week!
    I quite understand that these are difficult times, but this has been going on for many years now and is a major blot on the seafront.

    Comments like "get a life" seem a bit pathetic when we are talking of the extremely slow progress on probably Ramsgate premier site.

    I would be delighted to be surprised by huge progress on my next visit, next week. Sadly, I doubt that I will be.

    Incidentally, I did not intend to be anonymous, I am just not very good at these things!

    Chris Moor
    Bromley

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  28. Michael, any thoughts on the other proposed apartments a little further along (near where Nero's used to be)? I've just been reading about it in the Gazette.

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  29. Peter I suppose that on a personal level I would like to have seen something in the same style as the remains of the Victorian original. It doesn’t work like this however, modern is what you get, I can’t help preferring my buildings with twiddley bits on them.

    That said my primary concern with these developments between the cliff and the sea is that not enough is being done to make them viable in a long-term sense.

    When the Victorians built this whole structure they built the arches to act as a cliff support structure and a new development linked to a new cliff support structure makes reasonable sense. I would think you could expect the whole thing when properly maintained to last for a couple of hundred years.

    Now you have The Royal Sands development intending to use this Victorian viaduct that was designed for horse drawn vehicles, as the main PSV and HGV access.

    Visually the cliff structure along this whole area that is being redeveloped, by this I mean the cliff structure from Kent Terrace to the old Nero’s site, has areas that appear in very poor condition.

    Obviously the worst case scenario is that part of it collapses, but I think much more likely most of it will have to have some major repair program and I think this would be better done before buildings are put in the way.

    I am not sure that it would be possible to repair the arches there without first demolishing the development and I think this may be the case with The Royal Sands too.

    Understand that I am not saying this is a certainty, just that the cliff should be properly surveyed and a feasibility study produced that relates to the expected life of all of the new developments in this area.

    To see a good example of what I mean follow the link near the beginning of my first comment, where you will find a series of linked pages of professional engineers reports on the condition of the cliff behind the Pleasurama site.

    As you can see they talk in terms of the cliff structure having a short serviceable life, the repairs the council had carried out were seen as urgent to maintain this short serviceable life. The age of this structure varies between 80 and 40 years and is seen as being near the end of its life. However a £22m development is being built in front of it and people are being offered leases on the apartments in excess of 100 years.

    Assuming that you visualise better in old money, you have a seventy foot high concrete cliff wall that is about 3 feet thick 15 feet away from it you have 70 foot high building full of people, how do you repair the cliff.

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  30. I have a relative that works at the council and have it on good authority that many of the delays to the Royal Sands have been politically motivated inan attempt to delay the job and create critism for TDC the developer and the builders. Indeed a malicious local agitator contacted the HSE with a spurious claim that danger was present on the cliffs. This created a 9 months delay whilst the HSE investigated the matter....The site works stopped.....In the end after costly surveys, lots of abortive time and delays..the HSE gave their full approval for works to proceed....It is perverse that those people on this site that moan about the length of time the project is taking are indeed the very ones that have delayed progress...Local jobs for local people have been lost and the agitators continue to cost the loacl tax payer lost of money....For your information I have signed up to buy one of the apartments and am really looking forward to moving in Spring 2014. The apartments are superbly designed and I will raise a glass of bubbly on my balcony to toast progress. Well done Thanet District Council and well done to the developers....You will have achieved wonders.

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  31. Are local jobs more important than local lives 22:59?

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  32. 2259s comments are, of course, his alone and are in no way a reflection of a vested interest. The veiled attack on Michael - well not that veiled actualy - is a good indication that this comment originated elsewhere. And good point Peter - maybe 2259 should tell us which he thinks are more important.

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  33. I also remember the old adage about a fool and his money - appropriate to anyone who buys an apartment in this location.

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  34. 22.59 my understanding is that only three of the apartments have been reserved namely phase 1; apartments 91, 92 Phase 3; apartment 96, and that these all have prices in excess of £435,000, with a prime development of over 100 apartments with prices starting at £185,000 this strikes me as a little unusual.

    Of course it is possible that I am wrong and that you can correct me, but as the information stands it does occur to me that you may have more of an interest in the property than an ordinary buyer.

    My understanding is that the main delay with the development up to June 2009 was financial i.e. the developer was unable to provide the performance bond, at this point in time the council decided to allow the developer to continue with reduced financial guarantees.

    Any delay to the development that relates to my dialogue with the HSE seems unlikely as work continued at the present rate throughout most of the time this was going on. There was minor delay after the week when part of the façade, that I had reported dangerous, fell off, but this was only while the council removed the other lose bits.

    At the moment work is only occurring in front of the arched part of the façade and I did instigate some exploratory work in this to determine that it was safe. I concede that this work wasn’t really necessary as the whole of this part of the façade is cast concrete. However at the time the contractor, the HSE and myself were working on the information and design drawings provided by the council, that said the arch infills were blockwork and not cast concrete. Unfortunately the council had provided and I believe had been using drawings for a completely different arched cliff façade in another part of Ramsgate.

    The upshot of this was that the HSE have insisted on a survey of the façade and the council say that they are going to do this soon. My concern here though is that as the council and their engineers have already spent £1m on surveying and repairing the façade based on the principle that most was built out of blocks and not cast concrete, they may have a vested interest in showing that this money was well spent.

    That said, assuming that you are genuine in what you say, then you intend to buy one of the penthouse apartments at the north-eastern end of the development, this would put you in front of the most soundly constructed part of the cliff façade, so I would think that there is little chance of you having problems related to the cliff during the next 20 years.

    I would think that your main concerns there would be related to the report of the Environment Agency expert that strongly recommends emergency escapes to the cliff top and a flood risk assessment. In terms of the overall cost of the development these are relatively inexpensive precautions and I would recommend that armed with the report you press the developer to expedite these very basic safety precautions.

    Peter and mingles4all very hard to work out the motives of anonymous posters, when it comes to this issue, I do what I can and the help is appreciated.

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  35. Michael. You're welcome. I frankly don't believe a word of Mr Anonymous' comments and to be honest I suspect that Cllr might be a more accurate prefix.

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  36. I see TDC have turned down the planning application for the five-storey horror

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  37. Dear Michael. I would just like to thank you for your blog and hours of hard work you obviously put into it, and the opportunity it allows people like myself to post their comments/views etc. This is the only place I have been able to find any real update/facts about this 'development' and the seemingly endless problems and delays. The site is an utter eyesore and in my view TDC should have done their utmost to ensure any approved scheme was completed in a timely manner.

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  38. Dear Michael. I would just like to thank you for your blog and hours of hard work you obviously put into it, and the opportunity it allows people like myself to post their comments/views etc. This is the only place I have been able to find any real update/facts about this 'development' and the seemingly endless problems and delays. The site is an utter eyesore and in my view TDC should have done their utmost to ensure any approved scheme was completed in a timely manner.

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