Saturday 10 December 2011

Ramsgate harbour Slipways Plans, nice railway shed shame about the waves.

This is one of those last chance to have your say things, it relates to the well known local developer, who has recently been responsible for the restoration of the Custom House and the Marina Restaurant, both very attractive and viable developments.

The Custom House is now the home to Ramsgate Town Council and because of the way this has been arranged, the subletting of the other parts of the building mean that the parts used by the council are effectively rent free.

Commercially the difficulty with the slipways partly relates to their commercial viability and partly to the commercial viability of Ramsgate Harbour without slipways.

The slipway operators take on this, being that only slipway No1 is commercially viable, this viability is partly related to the rent and rates for the site, the rent being set by TDC and the rates by the Inland Revenue.

Slipway 4 is really just a bit of sloping concrete with a trolley on it that leads into the workshops and has really been replaced by the TDC owned lifting cradle, in fact the lifting cradle means that much of the work on the smaller craft can be done without the slipways, so the cradles very existence renders the whole slipway operation less viable.

Slipway 2’s cradle (the bit that goes up and down on the rails) was condemned by TDC a couple of years ago and hasn’t been replaced.

The TDC owned lifting cradle (don't get your cradles muddled or you bring up the wrong baby) near the harbour gates has limitations, both in terms of weight and in terms of the beam (width) of the vessels that can use it.

Slipway 3 has mostly been used for the windfarms catamarans (wide twin hulled vessels) during the last couple of years. These are both to wide and too heavy for the lifting cradle.

Slipway 1 has to stay whatever happens as it is a heritage lump, a listed Victorian slipway. Slipway one is mostly used for much larger vessels, often for replating and when a vessel is on slipway one (one has been stuck on it for about the last 3 months awaiting parts) the only way to get the windfarm vessels out of the water, for repairs and maintenance is to use slipway 3.

The overall commercial viability of the harbour is a difficult one, it seems to have an income from mooring and port fees in the multimillion pound a year bracket and harbour maintenance appears to have been fairly minimal over the past few years.

I am no accountant, so I can’t extrapolate what actual income TDC receive from the harbour, but assume it is a fair amount.

Part of the problem here is that TDC haven’t yet produced their harbour master plan, so it is difficult to tell how vital the slipways are to the overall long-term commercial viability of the harbour.

Most especially this relates to the windfarm vessels, it is unclear just how vital the long term use of the slipways is to the windfarm operators, obviously it would detrimental to TDC’s income if they took their operation elsewhere.  

Another factor with the windfarm vessels is that they are new and still under warranty, so the work on them is mostly done by firms from outside the area, this means that there is very little to be derived, in the way of income, for the slipway operator for letting them use the slipways.   

Anyway what happened was that the developer bought half of the lease from the slipways operator for £90,000 and TDC issued a separate split lease to him, roughly covering the area for slipways 2 to 4.

There is an added problem here, which is did TDC issue the lease with the full knowledge that the developer wanted to use the site as a bar and restaurant complex? Meaning that if TDC try to enforce the terms of the lease i.e. that the site be used for ship repairs, could this be open to a legal dispute?

One last thing on the lease, which is that I think when it was issued officers omitted the side access to the maritime museum, which if this was just a mistake, could lead to more delays in granting the maritime museum lease.
That was the background, so now onto the planning applications, the first application was for the modern brightly coloured development in the picture.

Apart from all of the problems mentioned above, for me the main problem was the flood risk assessment presented with these plans.

This flood risk assessment had various flaws the most glaring of which was that the flood risk assessor had made an error and confused Mean High Tide with Maximum High Tide.

Whatever the financial implications of the development, it was obvious that a building, inhabited parts of which would definitely flood, was a non starter, so my main objection to the first development was on the grounds that the flood risk assessment was wrong.

One of the factors with planning applications is that if they get turned down, then you have a limited time in which to reapply before you have to start all over again and pay the planning fee again, this can be several thousand pounds.  

So I think there was a bit of a rush getting this one in, when I looked at the application I soon realised that they had used the faulty flood risk assessment that had been a major factor in the council’s turning down of the previous plans.

Something important to understand with flood risk assessments and the business of building on the foreshore is that the sea has waves, so you have to make an allowance for what the Environment Agency call RIZ, they explain this in their letter to the council about the Pleasurama development, click on the link to read it

Usually design of this sort of development design revolves around two factors, the height of the sea defence in front of it, relative to the maximum high tide, and the distance that it is behind the sea defence to allow for wave dissipation.

Both of the applications for building on the slipways involve building part of the new development on a small pier above the sea, so there will be no wave dissipation, plus the added problem of any floating objects getting trapped below the development and being impacted into the bottom of the development by wave action.

Now the latest development the one that looks like an Edwardian railway shed, was designed by one of the senior planning officers who has just left the council, so you would have assumed that he would have known about this.

In fact I am very surprised that he has put the cart before the horse in this way, the normal approach, I would have thought, would be to do the flood risk assessment first and then design the building to be safe within the constraints of the existing environment. 

Anyway when I went to object to this development based mostly on the fact that the flood risk assessment was wrong, I spoke to the officer in charge of the application, who said that the wrong flood risk assessment had been submitted and I could delay my objection until he let me know that the right assessment had been submitted and I had had a chance to check it was ok.

I also had a chat with the developer, who said pretty much the same and that the assessment would be with the council in few days. Much more than a few days passed and so I contacted the officer in charge of the application.

He said that the new flood risk assessment still hadn’t been submitted and as time is running out on this one, I would need to object in the next few days, based on the existing, wrong assessment.

So if you want to comment on this one, you had better be quick.

The main planning reference is L/TH/11/0875 the council’s planning website is

The council’s planning website is a strange place and there seems to be pretty much the same application filed under the ref F/TH/11/0874 I can’t link to the plans as unlike normal websites the web address of the page the plans are on doesn’t stay the same.

The first applications relating to the previous brightly coloured development are: The one to demolish the slipways workshops winding houses etc L/TH/10/0736 and the development F/TH/10/0737 may be helpful in trying to assess this new one.

The officer tells me that the retention of the slipways for continued viability of the harbour as a whole are a valid reason for objection too.

On a more personal note here I think there is the whole business of the expanding café culture to consider, my guess is that rather like the case in Whitstable, the background of a real working harbour is a major attraction.

On the face of it the working fishing boat environment can be fairy disruptive and sometimes rather smelly, but it is something real going on and is obviously a major factor in the very successful regeneration of Whitstable.

With the fast train, Ramsgate is now a faster and easier commute to London than Whitstable is, regeneration is now extending from the café culture into the High Street with new shops opening. 

I think there is a very real danger that the part of the harbour next to the café culture could turn into just a parking area for expensive and somewhat similar boats, not really much of an attraction.  


  1. We heard quite a lot about all the considerations for sea defence and wave strength when plans were discussed for the new flood defences in Margate. I look forward to seeing what happens with this - I was looking at the site the other day with one of my colleagues.

    I also hope we can start to get something done about the Maritime museum!

  2. Will first of all have put a link to your blog here, sorry about the previous omission, don’t know what happened.

    As you probably know, a question was tabled about this to the previous leader at the council meeting and the officer prepared answer passed onto Clive who I gather will be dealing with the issue.

    My guess is that the previous administration may have been delaying things prior to some sort of privatisation of the harbour and that the new administration has much more in the way of incentives to that and also the café on the end of the pier let out.

    In both cases I believe there suitable tenants ready and willing to go.

  3. Michael, a planning application prefixed with "L" is a listed building application related to demolition of part of a listed building or a building in a conservation area.

    An application with prefix "F" is for full planning permission for a development, so the two applications F/TH/11/0874 and L/TH/11/0875 are essentially for different aspects of the same application, hence the drawings are the same.

    If you want to comment about slipways retention it should be on L/TH/11/0875 and for the development it should be F/TH/11/0874.

    For clarity "TH" stands for Yhanet DC and if you see prefix "OL" it is an outline application. I hope this helps.

  4. Should say "Thanet DC".

    Incidentally, if you wish to comment on 550 new houses being built on green fields at Haine Road (Eurokent)and increasing the traffic jams at Westwood Cross the planning application number is OL/TH/11/0910 (outline application)

    Time to comment is also running short on this application. Once an outline application is approved the full permission is almost a formality.

  5. Getting there Ken, I promise to do a post about it, and yes I responded to the consultation and will be objecting to the Eurokent plans. Particularly the land swap business with the loss land left to the children of Ramsgate as playing fields.

    But at the moment there is this one that has to be answered by the beginning of next week and the peculiar business over the flood risk assessment.

    What do you reckon about them? A railway shed on a pier without a fra or an ornament to Ramsgate? Presumably you know the designer any idea why he didn’t work up from a reliable fra he must know the reasons for the last application being turned down.

  6. Don't worry about it Michael.

    Labour have a manifesto commitment to improving the Port of Ramsgate, and as I am sure you are aware it is a big issue for many of the Councillors on my side.

  7. Truth is Will, I don’t really know what to expect from a Labour council.

    The council owned major non-residential property situation in Ramsgate has reached the point where I suspect motives rather than a series of errors.

  8. Will Scobie,

    When did a manifesto commitment ever contain a guarantee that something would actually be done to fulfil it? The political graveyard is full of dead manifesto commitments, surely you know that.

    By the way, what is your side?

  9. Hey John, if you let those sour grapes ferment you can turn them into whine.

  10. Well if a party is to renege on their manifesto commitments then the public won't vote for them at the next election - and that's democracy in action!

    I am member of the Labour party if that's what you mean by the 'side' I am on.

  11. To anonymous at 07:46,

    Sorry, but I do not understand the point of your remark.

    I assume that 'whine' is a play on words rather than a misspelling' and where do the 'sour grapes' come in.

    What you say does not make sense in the context of my previous post. What, if anything, are you trying to say?

    Are you a troll?

  12. To Will Scobie,

    Morning Will, I suggest that you reread your earlier post for 'side' was your word not mine.

    You cry, " Well if a party is to renege on their manifesto commitments then the public won't vote for them at the next election - and that's democracy in action!"

    This sounds plausible but it does not stand up to examination. There are many occasions in recent times where a political political party, of either hue, has failed to keep its manifesto pledges and yet has still been re-elected. I suggest that you go to your history books and have a proper look.

    On the other hand, I notice from your profile that you are a student of Alistair Campbell so maybe your are not as naive as you appear. Please reassure me that you are not trying to spin the story.

  13. “Both of the applications for building on the slipways involve building part of the new development on a small pier above the sea, so there will be no wave dissipation, plus the added problem of any floating objects getting trapped below the development and being impacted into the bottom of the development by wave action.”

    I would have thought the new breakwater built to protect boats in the Eastern outer marina should also protect the development. Comment based on a pleasant morning spent watching the pile driving for the pontoons during last holiday in Ramsgate.

  14. A quick response here for 10.12 who is obviously interested in the debate but isn’t familiar with Ramsgate, I will respond to the other comment if when I get some more time.

    So 10.12 please take a gander at a couple of old blog posts of mine, with this one a quick skim through and a look at the pictures and the video should put you in the picture.

    This one is a bit more complicated and is a sort of informed guess because Ramsgate hasn’t has a proper flood risk assessment, the EA grant for this was spent on Margate.

  15. 'By the way, what is your side?'

    This was what you said, and so is why I replied using the word 'side'.

    You are right to an extent as elections are normally decided by more immediate issues. However manifestos are still important for the political process to show voters what politicians plan to do once in power.

  16. Just in case anyone hasn’t read the Labour Manifesto and wants to here it is if there has be

  17. Will Scobie, You are wrong about 'side'. Here is your post to which I replied,

    "... it is a big issue for many of the Councillors on my side.
    10 December 2011 20:55".

    Consequently, I inquired what side you were on. I remain unclear on this point.

    At the risk of being patronising, if you are planning a career in politics then you must develop the skin of a rhinoceros and resist the temptation to argue the toss with individual voters. For example you picked a silly argument with me over who first used the word 'side' yet you do not know which, if any party that I support. Do you think that was wise? But to be fair you did concede on the reliability pledges.

    I wish you luck in your political career, which ever side you choose.

  18. And here was me thinking we were just discussing politics, I didn't realise that it would lead to aaumptions about my future career. My problem is I just enjoy talking to people too much, and in particular politics!

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. *assumptions - got it right this time!

  21. Will Scobie, Who is it that has made assumptions about your future political career,not I. For I merely wished you luck in whatever side of the argument that you chose. Yet here you go again arguing the toss with me. Where is that thick skin?

    I can understand how you as Councillor would enjoy talking about politics. But should you not be concentrating on devising and implementing ways to make Thanet a better place? Please do not reply that you already do this without giving chapter and verse.

  22. Right now I am procrastinating while writing an essay for my course about Israel and Palestine that is due in tomorrow.

    I am a relatively new Councillor, and there are people much cleverer and more experienced than me setting the plans for Thanet's future. My focus right now is on getting this essay written, and then doing two presentations later this week on international theory.

  23. Will John don’t forget the philosophical and political maxim; “Cogito ergo confusus sum” “I think therefore I am confused”

  24. Will Scobie,

    If you are too busy to spend time on planning Thanet's future then why on earth did you stand for election. More to the point, why were you elected.

    Do your voters know that you are too busy to concentrate on their hopes fears and aspirations. Do you imagine that they they are waiting with baited breath to hear of your conclusions on Israel and Palestine, or on your view of 'international theory'.

  25. Will Scobie,

    You say that you are writing an essay on Israel and Palestine. I can guess at your conclusion: Israel bad, Palestine good. However, I am sure that you will not overlook the fact that Israel is the only Democratic state in the region.

    Out of interest have you ever been to Israel or Palestine? [for the record I have been to both].

  26. I haven't been to either although I would love to go.

    I just find the whole subject fascinating and am really glad I have had the chance to study the conflict. I am yet to come to a conclusion, although I feel any peace should be based on mutual recognition and respect. The BBC started a series this week about the history of Jerusalem, and that was useful in looking into the complexities of the problem.

    I take it you went to Jerusalem? That must have been an amazing experience!

  27. Michael,

    Your “I think therefore I am confused” Descartes has also been modernised to reflect current thinking by, "I feel therefore I am".

  28. Will Scobie, looking at the Labour cabinet with the odd BTECH in Management, I very much doubt that there are cleverer people than you. Don't put yourself down, lad, but go for the top job. We, Thanetians in general, and Thanet Labour in particular, could do with some fresh and educated blood for a change.

  29. Will,

    Yes I was in Jerusalem, both sides of the Mandelbaum Gate, before the city was united. I grew to respect and admire both the Israelis and the Jordanians and I still do.

    Yes, as you say, the problem is indeed complex and that is putting it mildly.

    Israel is without doubt a Democracy. However it has a system of PR voting. This has had the effect of letting hard line minority parties into government. It is these parties that are standing in the way of peace from the Israeli side. Against this there are those on the Palestinian side who have no desire for peace. Then we have to wonder why this may be and on and we go...good luck with your essay.

  30. The world is full of experts with little knowledge Will.

  31. If Will thinks that the Labour manifesto will be implemented then here one promise that the cabinet can implement first thing on Monday mourning :

    "Labour will reduce Councillors' Special Responsibility Allowances by 20% to provide funds for Councillors' Community Projects."

  32. Good grief, I have just realised what this is all about, words of advice for young people, content warning on this one, follow the link

  33. Has the economic crisis taught us nothing? For years, the only investment in this country has been in shops, malls, restaurants etc., consumer economics. We have failed to invest sufficiently in engineering,construction and technology. If the slipways really were non-profitable (and I think we should all demand to see the figures before assuming that this is true) they should be reserved for development that is maritime related and which will help to maintain the viability of the entire harbour. There are plenty of premises available to use as restaurants. You can't say the same about slipways and once they're gone, they're gone.

  34. Tim Clark,

    Whereas you Tim to your credit endeavour to avoid this pitfall by ensuring that you have neither expertise nor knowledge'

  35. "There are people much cleverer and more experienced than me setting the plans for Thanet's future."

    Would these be the same "clever and experienced" people who were planning things over the last ten years.

    It isn't that Thanet hasn't got any intelligent and talented people. It's just that they aren't well-represented on the Council. Party politics dictates that anyone with a brain of their own is lobotomised in the interests of party unity.

    Perhaps, the skill required to drive real regeneration of Thanet would be to harness the talents out there in the population. Don't tell them what you are going to do. Ask them what could be done. Offer a prize for the best ideas.

    If you strip out the long-winded replies you will get from the pompous "look-at-me" brigade, you may well find some great ideas for the area (and they won't include Manston Parkway, Manston Airport, Pleasurama, the Turnip Centre or Chinagate, all of which can be classified under one heading - vanity projects).

  36. Aren't you the smart one, Tim. Just to whom do you allude. John Holyer, who has actually been in Palestine and Israel, or is someone else the butt of your sarcastic one liner.

    While we are at it, just what are you expert in?

  37. The thing that concerns me is that the slipways were leased on a full repairing lease, why therefore aren't TDC making sure the terms of the lease are complied with.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.