Friday, 10 February 2012

Development at the arches, Granville Marina or Marina Esplanade Ramsgate.

The council planning committee turned this one down recently, it has been to the planning inspector for appeal, here is the link to their decision which was to allow the development to go ahead. 
 I didn’t oppose this development as I guess almost anything would be better than what is there now, I would have preferred something in the style of the original Granville Marina but planning in this country doesn’t work that way.

I do have some concerns about developing this site, one relates to the drain in the arch behind it. 
The other relates to the condition of the arched inclined viaduct behind it and access to this structure for maintenance.  

My understanding of the drain, which may be inaccurate, is that this is a mixed surface water and sewage pipe that comes down the cliff here and is connected to an emergency outfall pipe into the sea, this has a pressure relief valve on the seaward end that has a tendency to get stuck.

What is supposed to happen here is that in normal circumstances, the sewage and surface water is piped down the cliff, goes along the frontage of Granville Marina, through the Pleasurama site and along Harbour Parade. During heavy rainfall the system can’t cope with the flow of water and the pressure relief valve opens discharging the excess into the sea.

What appears to happen in practice is that when we have heavy rain the valve gets stuck and the force of sewage and water lifts the manhole cover, under one of the arches, in the picture. Harbour Parade also floods although this may be purely coincidental.      

The other problem is the structural integrity of the arched viaduct, this one is a bit complicated, but I will do my best to explain it, there may be some errors in this explanation as the local councils haven’t been very forthcoming in sharing information.  

Granville Marina was built by JT Wimperis in 1877 as a development of a beach resort for Edward Pugin's Granville Hotel. As originally devised, the development consisted of shops, houses, shell grottos, tea rooms and a 'wintergardens'.

The basic structure is in the form of an inclined brick arched viaduct against the chalk cliff, most of the original frontage was a timber framed façade, covering what is effectively a line of short tunnels in the front of the cliff.

The underlying problem here is that the structure wasn’t built for modern vehicles and has suffered various minor collapses over the years.    

The road on top of the viaduct is to be the main vehicle access to The Royal Sands development including the public service vehicle (bus) access.

My understanding is that after the big cliff collapse at the top of the incline in the 1960s, the then borough surveyor decided it wasn’t safe to allow traffic to go down the hill, because of the stresses cased by a line of vehicles breaking hard down the hill.

So this was turned into a one-way road, up hill only.

Normally an arched brick structure like this would be constructed with engineering bricks of uniform hardness and it would be easy to calculate the loads and stresses it could withstand.

The inclined arches on the waterfront of Ramsgate Harbour are a good example of this, these arches also have the advantage of concrete infill between the arches and under the road above.

The Granville Marina arches are made of Victorian house bricks with varying hardness’s and has a loose chalk infill.

There is no weight limit imposed on this structure at the moment, so it is perfectly legal to drive 38 tonne lorries up and down it.

Anyway I did some calculations and came to the conclusion that the point at which the structure would be likely to fail would be around ten tonnes per axel and pointed this out to KCCs engineer.

He responded to me that the structure was safe with no weigh limit on it, but wouldn’t tell me what he calculated the maximum axel weight to be, the safety margin he had used, or what program he had used to calculate it.

My main concern however is about the stresses cased by a train of vehicles travelling down the hill and having to brake hard in an emergency. The whole structure vibrates when one lorry does this.

Now we come to the planning references and the planning history of Granville Marina, the planning reference for this application is Planning ref F/TH/11/0244

Because of the peculiarities of the council’s planning website I can’t link to the application, you have to go to the planning website and paste the application into the search box.

You can find the various planning applications for Granville Marina by doing an alphabetical street search on the same website, some are listed under Marina Esplanade and some under Granville Marina.    
 Anyway this is what this area used to look like. In case you are wondering the picture was taken from Ramsgate pier.


  1. Michael what was the outcome of the appeal? Your link shows an extract, but I can't see the decision. Also can't see an appeal on the UK Planning website - what is the Thanet planning reference?

  2. 5.42 Appeal allowed, sorry the whole document didn’t publish properly the first time, I have redone it and I think it is all there now. You really don’t want to know about converting pdf documents into text on the internet, give a civil servant a simple text document and the first thing they seem to want to do is convert it into something difficult to use.

  3. As in para 2 the chap states that he has no doubt as to the inaccuracy of the ownership documents, the whole thing seems to be void!!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. 5.42 I have now added the planning reference, I would guess the outcome of the appeal will appear there eventually.

    Nethercourt much of the history of land ownership in the UK is rather strange and the situation with Granville Marina stranger than most. The arches I believe are owned by KCC while the people living there own the air inside, the land in front of the arches was reclaimed from the sea by filling in the area between the cliff and the sea defence with the chalk spoil from cutting away the top part of the cliff.

    However I don’t think there were grounds for refusal based on title.

    As I said in the post I didn’t object to this one as nothing could really be worse than what is there now. It is also behind an environment agency sea defence with escapes to the road above, so should be fairly safe in a tidal surge storm.

  6. The Granville Marina shops were available to rent by April 1875. I`m not sure when they were built. Probably around 1873 when Edmund Davis purchased the Granville Hotel from Coutts & Co.

    Somewhere along that beach front is a tunnel - a private staircase -to the Granville Hotel grounds ( now where Poldark Court stands ).


  7. Michael, I hate to say it, but 'I told them so, at the planning committee... Its all very well to go against officer advice if you have good reason, but 'Not liking it' is not a good reason!

  8. The building is not in keeping with the area - it is too tall. However, I do appreciate that more flats equals more council tax revenue.

  9. Ben I got the 1877 date from the council who probably got it from English Heritage whose Ramsgate listings are more often than not wrong.

    I guess you are the best authority on the Granville, so many thanks for the information.

    It did occur to me that apartments in the Royal Sands are available to buy now, which makes you wonder what future historians will make of that.

    Ken, it’s an interesting thought that the localism bill that I assumed had drawn the teeth of the planning inspectorate, doesn’t seem to have made any difference at all.

    John, if only planning decisions were based on what is in keeping with a conservation area like this.

  10. Ben,

    This is maybe rather a long shot - but I was wondering if you knew any of the details of Edmund Davis's purchase of the Granville in 1873 (i.e. what land it comprised and who the various parties to the sale were)?

  11. More flats equals more council tax so to hell with aesthetics.

  12. Notwithstanding the council's conversation teams comments about fernerys and tea gardens, I thought I'd post a few details about the earlier history of the application site :-).

    The application site is (or was) 18-21 Granville Marina, and the land in front of 18-20 Granville Marina.

    Nos. 18 and 19 Granville Marina were the last two 'major' buildings in the terrace, consisting of one main storey and an attic storey above, a large deep vault under the Marina Road and with a distinctive roof that sloped back towards the cliff face.

    Nos. 20 and 21 Granville Marina were just small single storey vaults under the road with a relatively shallow facade in front of the cliff face. These two small vaults and the three in the adjacent car park (22 to 24) were originally used for lock up shops, shooting galleries and other amusements.

    Nos. 18 and 19 were used as "The Marina Shades" pub, which carried on in some form as a pub or restaurant until at least 1930. The pub and the various other businesses at that end of the terrace spread out onto the road in front with various tables and chairs. This land in front actually belonged to the board of trade (who owned the beach there, as part of Ramsgate Harbour, when the Granville Marina was built).

    In about 1930, the Ministry of Transport (successor to the board of trade for this purpose) sold the roads and land in front of Granville Marina to Ramsgate Borough Council [the council later sold the land in front of nos. 18 to 20]. The Marina Theatre had expanded into this area at some point and a stone wall was built around the area (some parts are still there today). A modern single storey terrace was built in front of the old buildings (approx No.14 to 19) at some point, giving access to the upper floors of the old buildings which might have been used as flats.

    I'm not clear when this part of the Marina and its additions was finally demolished, but certainly by the late 1970's Nos. 14 to 17 had been replaced by Granville Marina Court (a block of 8 appartments). Nero's (what was the Marina Theatre) was demolished rather later on.

  13. Or maybe even "conservation" ... gives my word processor's auto spelling correction facility a good kick.

  14. I`ve noticed too that the dates from English Heritage can be incorrect.

    Too Gerald. Edward Pugin bought the land in 1867 with a group of other developers. They built a terrace of probably 5 houses. For who knows what reason it was decided the Granville should be converted into a hotel. It was opened in August 1869 and officially on 7th December with a ball. This spending caused Edward Pugin`s bankruptcy in 1873.

    As for the details of the sale I don`t know. For further information relating to Edmund Davis try looking in this book below...

    THE JEWISH VICTORIAN: Genealogical Information from the Jewish Newspapers 1871-1880. Transcribed and edited by Doreen Berger.

    Cheers, Ben Kelly

  15. Ben,

    Many thanks, that's useful - I'll follow that up.

    I'd found the April 1867 sale: Robert Sankey, Edward Welby Pugin and John Barnett Hodgson bought a large amount of the remaining unsold land in the Mount Albion Estate from Lady Truro's executors. This appears to have included [amongst other land] all of the land between Truro road and Victoria Parade. They sold a lot of this on (in smaller parcels) over the next few years to other developers, and kept some plots for their own projects - sometimes one of them buying out the other two partner's interest in a particular plot.

    Part of the land was sold in 1873 by Sankey, Pugin and Hodgson to William Matthew Coulthurst (a senior partner in Coutts) - this appears to have been one of the transactions relieving Pugin of his land. Pugin is treated differently in the sale to his two co-owners - presumably because he's bankrupt.

    [I'm not sure whether Coulthurst was one of Pugin's creditors, or whether he just wanted to invest in land.]

    I have only heard of Pugin going bankrupt, not any of the partners that he had made the large investment in land with. It would be interesting to know for certain whether Sankey and Hodgson were actually financially involved in Pugin's Granville failure - or whether they were only co-investors in land with him.

  16. Hi Gerald,

    Catriona Blaker has some details in her book - Edward Pugin and Kent - relating to the sale of land from the Albion Estate.


  17. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the pointer to the book by Catriona Blaker. I've just ordered a copy this morning.



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