Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama site Ramsgate up for decision again.

As some of you may already know this comes before Thanet District Council’s cabinet again next week.

The exact wording as to why it is coming before council is: 

 “To make changes to the development agreement in relation to the provisions for third party funders, the timing of parts of the development, the guarantees supporting the agreement and the agreed project milestones.”

However what it actually says on the council’s website is:

·                 View item 13. as HTML 19 KB
Royal Sands - Development Agreement
Report to follow

In other words members of the public can’t even read what the issue is about, which isn’t so good in terms of open government.

I have tried today, really quite hard to find out from the council why all the information has been excluded, obviously I can understand why they would want to exclude the financial information, but the information about the timing of the development, after ten years of delays to engage in secrecy about the timing seems absurd.

My main concern as always are the safety issues, the cliff which I am once again awaiting the results of a survey for and the flood and storm situation where the changes to the foundation design mean that the development literally sits on the sand beach, with no sea defence between it and the sea.

My take on the situation is that I would like to see the development completed as soon as possible if the finances are there, but not at any price when it comes to safety.

The previous design was for the foundations to be pile bored into the bedrock below the sand and I am hoping that the cabinet will insist on a proper flood risk assessment to ascertain what needs to be done to make the building safe if the sand shifts in a storm.

I have a considerable amount of correspondence about this which essentially proves my points and am happy to make any of it available should people want to read it.

Here is an example of the most recent, this week.

Me to the contractor

Hi Michael

I don’t dispute that the load spreading foundations are adequate for sand, what I am asking you again, is the position now that we have the information that there is no proper sea defence between the sand and the sea.

For clarity:

Do you intend to continue without further investigation of the structural integrity any sea defence?

Do you still intend to build without a site specific flood risk assessment?

Obviously if you have independently verified and proven material confirming that the issue of basing the foundations on what is effectively a beach without a sea defence, is something that I am mistaken about, you only have to send it to me and will be off your back.  

Don’t get me wrong here I am as keen to get the development phase over as quickly as possible and would far rather sort this out with you, than going through the building inspectorate and HSE which would be likely to cause further delays.

I will ask TDC once again for the results of the cliff face inspection.

Any reason why you are not starting on the transition slab? I ask this as I can’t visualise any way that there could be structural support brickwork at this stage, so your answer here does sound a bit like continuing the three or four men on site, rather than significant numbers and progress you mentioned being imminent about a year ago?

The information that the variation to the variation of the development agreement is coming before cabinet towards the end of the month is now on the council’s website, any chance you could let me know what is being asked for this time around?

I would very much welcome a chat, I will try and give you a ring in a mo. 

Best regards Michael

His reply

Dear Michael

Thank you for your email. I can confirm that all parties including our Civil Engineers and Geotechnical Specialists are fully satisfied with the designs that have been selected. The foundations have also been fully validated by the Building Inspectorate. We have also received approval and sign off from a third party independent Engineering Consultant appointed to the scheme. We are therefore fully satisfied with the current status.  

The structural columns which support the transition slab are all fully complete in readiness for the transition slab. Ahead of this the bricklayers will be progressing the masonry to the stair cores and the retails areas. This will help limit risk of ‘overhead’ construction activities to the site.

We are not privy to the TDC meeting agenda but we are very enthused and grateful that the Development Co. has retained its commitment  to having the project completed to the original 2014 completion.

Very good news for all.

Kind Regards



  1. Maybe the public is excluded on the grounds that TDC has something to hide. Surely this cannot be the case. I hope that their projected milestones do not turn instead to tombstone, yet again. I do wish that I did not feel this way. Does TDC not have the wit to find a high calibre Official who will pick up this project by the scruff of the neck, shake it and gives us a building that will make us detractors eat our words. Or are they just a bunch of time serving tick boxers from Herne Bay and similar.

  2. This is just a dummy post to enable me to subscribe by email.

  3. Clive Hart said (paraphrasing) he would prefer not to have such motions, Michael. EKO (also on the Cabinet agenda) was debated at Overview a while back without passing an exclusion motion because the Members worked round it by not using that restricted info during the debate. I find it an exception rather than the rule though.

  4. I would remind everyone in this centenary year that the Titanic was rated as unsinkable by all the experts at the time. Why should today's experts be any better?


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