Monday, 3 October 2011

Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate again.


As pretty much everyone in Ramsgate must be aware, progress on the development is still moving at snails pace. The heath and safety notice on the site is a two year one for 200 workers that expires in March, so my calculation that if it takes 200 workers 2 years to build it the four workers on site will probably take 100 years to complete it I think is still a valid one.

So far we have had about fourteen years with this prime council owned leisure site a hideous mess that blights the town, so I periodically tackle the council about it. This is usually a very long and drawn out business and I would imagine it will be about a month before I receive any reply at all.

Last time I did this was in March and I published the replies I got in august see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/08/royal-sands-development-on-pleasurama.html trying to have a conversation with someone that takes months to reply is a very tedious business, but I am starting the process again. The August replies were not very encouraging.

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.

Well you can follow the link to the previous post about the issue if you are getting a bit lost. What I think the council are saying is that have lost all control over their management of this prime site that they are supposed to be administering on our behalf.

It is very difficult to work out what the developer is doing, the development agreement with the council states that he should have finished the pile boring process by the beginning or this year and that by now he should have pretty much completed the steel cage.

This would have been a labour intensive task, creating employment and hopefully a strong structure anchored to the bedrock some three or four metres below the site. What has happened instead is that between two and four workers on site have dug a series of holes about a metre deep and fill these with concrete leaving thin reinforced concrete posts about 3 metres high sticking up out of the ground.

Obviously I have asked the council’s building control department what they think of this, as the building isn’t anchored to the ground as the original project was supposed to be and these thin concrete posts are appearing instead of the steel cage that was expected.

The answer goes something like, we thought that the council’s building control were going to be in charge of this and that we would have considerable control over the construction and the approval of detailed construction buildings, however the developer has used a private firm licensed to oversee building control, so we can’t really say anything. What they have to say off the record, well is off the record, you can always ring them up and have a chat with them.

I suppose the think I find most worrying is that we now have a large development starting on a high risk flood zone, sitting on the old beach that was laid down by the sea instead of one anchored firmly in the solid chalk below it. However all of this is being carries out within the regulations as they stand at the moment.

The failure to comply with the time structure set out in the development agreement with the council is a different matter altogether and I find the fact that the council have made no effort to find out why the developer is so far behind very concerning.

The development now has a website where you can tell which apartment have been reserved, see http://www.royalsandsramsgate.co.uk/availability.asp the server is a bit slow and you have click on a bout 20 links to find out, I think it is about 8 out of 109.

The other big potential hazard to this development is its proximity to the 70 foot high unsupported chalk cliff. The condition of the concrete cliff façade being the most visible problem. This is essentially split into three parts. The brick bit at the Broadstairs end of the site that was built in 1860 and partially collapsed in the 1960s. the arched concrete bit in the middle that was built in the 1930s and seems to be sound and reasonably well built. The bit at the harbour end of the site that has several cracks in it and weed growing on it. So far the developer has only done work in front of the sound looking arched bit in the middle. 


So with this rather mixed bag I have to work out what to ask the council, this is a tricky one as it may be a considerable time before I get a reply. This isn’t made any easier because of the problems I pointed out to the leader and chief executive of the council the other day. By this I mean that the officer in charge of this development, head of major developments has gone, and the officer in charge of building control has also gone.  

Here are the pictures from the compact camera’s card where I got the picture of the site taken today http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/1011/id3.htm a bit of a mixed bag. 


Also in all of this there is what I want to achieve, part of certainly the part of me that is in business in this part of Ramsgate would just like them to get on with the thing in the time frame the promised, well this obviously isn’t happening and isn’t likely to. Another part of me is concerned about the safety aspects of the development, particularly the storm damage and the cliff stability problems.  


I would appreciate it if anyone has any ideas on what to ask the council about the development, they would either post them as a comment or email me.  



The Royal Sands website http://www.royalsandsramsgate.co.uk/about.asp says: “The Developers for the Royal Sands development are SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd a UK based Commercial and Residential Development Company with experience in mixed schemes in both the UK and overseas.”

I have trawled the internet made a companies house search and yet can find nothing to suggest that they have ever developed anything, even a garden shed.

So if anyone knows of anything they have actually either developed or failed to develop it would be a useful indicator of what we have to expect in Ramsgate.


I will carry on with this post as I get time. 

14 comments:

  1. To compare, Margate Winter Gardens was built 100 years ago, & went from planning stage to official opening in under 12 months. Progress, eh?

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  2. According to the sales web site apartments will be ready in the autumn 2013, but then the same web site says that the developer has built other commercial and residential property in the UK but I can find nothing on the web about this which is unusual for a developer. A webcheck at the companies house web site show a company that has "total exemption" meaning it is small and no specific trading activity is listed under the SIC code. Another companies info web site shows £4k in the bank in 2010, a company address and a director, company check on developer.
    All very interesting to potential purchasers. But no problem for TDC as they have a bond in place.

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  3. 19.18 there is no bond in place the councillors decided to go against the advice of the councils head of finance now also chief executive and voted to proceed without the bond, as the developer was unable to find a bank that would issue one. A performance bond is the equivalent of an insurance and I presume one would need some sort of track record in development to obtain one in rather the same on that one needs a driving licence to obtain motor insurance and a no claims bonus to get this at an affordable price.

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  4. SFP Ventures... check out this link.

    http://companycheck.co.uk/company/05666803

    makes for interesting reading regarding the company's finances!

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  5. To me it looks like the developer is trying to gauge the amount of interest there is in these flats before putting amy more cash into the site. As well as the local agent it is also using an Essex agency (see rightmove.co.uk) and is marketing Phase 5 of the site. To the unaware they may think that the other 4 phases are complete.
    It will be interesting to see when the 50% sold notice appears on the site and the agency web sites.

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  6. TDC owned the land and agreed to sell to to these developers. They were under no obligation to do so. I believe there were other offers on the table for the site and so, we have to assume the current developers presented TDC with a better plan. Due diligence would demand that TDC ensured that these developers were really able to do the job before they agreed to sell.

    I guess we now have to cast our minds back to who was running the Council at the time and who the officers were. By my recollection, Richard Nicholson was Leader and David Ralls was Chief Executive.

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  7. I seem to remember that David Ralls was retired early with a nice fat payout becuause he disagreed with the then leader, the follow on was of course that the deputy chief exec was bumped to ch exec 6 months before he retired and got a nicely bumped pension, another council officer was bumped to chief finance officer 6 months before he retired and got a nice pension bump, all in all the pleasurama site has cost the local taxpayer a lot of money and it ain't over yet. Gravy trains and brown envelopes abound.

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  8. Surely 23:17 must be mistaken don't local government jobs have to be advertised and open to free competition ?

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  9. Nah 19:42 you just write your own demise then rewrite your job spec to choose internally...job done. Tax payer foots the bill and TDC can explain to those that will believe them that they have fantastic management!!!

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  10. Michael Child 19.18

    I would consider that the Council were very wise not to take an Insurance Backed Performanc Bond....Ypu may not be aware but one of the leading Bond Insurance Co's went into recievership last year...It is my understanding that TDC instead obtained £1million pound cash bond from the developer which in todays climate I would say provides us all with enormous comfort on the developers commitment to the project
    . Let's applaud the Council for their forsight...

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  11. Retired EngineerOctober 12, 2011 8:48 pm

    Mr Childs = Leave the Construction to the experts.
    The Foundation techniques that the Contractor has selected are a perfect and good selection for the site. I could sell you a good book that would help you to understand our industry better...

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  12. Worried bloke who's buying one of these apertmentsFebruary 25, 2012 10:10 am

    I have to assume the developers, builders and the building inspectors know what they are doing so, I am extremely concerned to read all your comments . Is there only a handfull of workmen on sight because the builders haven't got enough money to bring in any more or, are they over extended on other projects?. Why are they moving the completion date from Spring 2013 to Autumn 2013 and why are they not providing me with final detailed plans? ( all the existing plans show conflicting information ) even though they expect me to buy the property "AS SEEN". I paid the deposit last Autumn and their solicitors still haven't sent contracts for exchange. What's going on!!!!!!!?..........Keep up the good work Micheal.

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  13. Worried Bloke, I don’t share your confidence over either the cliff façade or sea defence. The cliff façade because on three occasions now I have pointed out potential problems with it, been told there is nothing wrong, pursued the issue further which has resulted in repair work. The sea defence, because the only expert that I am aware of, the environment agency’s costal engineer, has made basic safety recommendations that have been ignored.

    When it comes to contracts and deposits, I think it rather depends on which company you have the agreement with, Cardy Construction the firm contracted to build it are a reputable local company.

    SFP UK don’t seem to have any track record, financial standing or anything much and appeared to be a dormant company last time I looked, you can do a Companies House search if you want to see what I mean. If you manage to obtain information that they have been responsible for any development anywhere, even a garden shed, please let me know.

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