Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The King Street Carpet Shop Planning Application comes up for decision tomorrow.

I guess with the concerns about the future of the Manston Airport site and concerns about the future of the Pleasurama site it may be that most people have had their eye off the ball with this one.

Personally I think that turning one of the largest shops in Ramsgate into social housing is likely to have long term implications for Ramsgate as a shopping centre, to say nothing of the poor wretches who will have their bedroom windows fronting onto King Street.

Anyway having talked to some of the councillors about this one, I got the recommendation to email all of the members of the planning committee with my objection.

Here are the members of the planning committee, clicking on their names should bring up their email address.   

Meeting attendance
Councillor Jack CohenChairmanExpected
Councillor Clive HartVice-ChairmanExpected
Councillor Steve AlexandrouCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Rosalind BinksCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor John Martin EdwardsCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Michelle FennerCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor William A HaytonCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Thomas KingCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor John D KirbyCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Ela Lodge-PritchardCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Jennifer MatterfaceCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Pat MooreCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Brian M SullivanCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Shirley TomlinsonCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Miss Linda WrightCommittee MemberExpected

This is what I sent them in blue.

Hi Linda I am writing to you and hopefully, computer allowing, to all the other members of the planning committee about the council’s planning application to turn the ground floor of one of the largest shops in Ramsgate into housing which comes up for decision at tomorrow’s planning meeting.  
I would guess that you either know me because of my having run the bookshop in Ramsgate since 1987 or because I write the thanetonline blog, anyway I do feel that I have some insight into how Ramsgate works as a shopping centre.
I also understand, which I didn’t know when I put in my objection, that TDC are drawing up a consultation document for regeneration of this part of Ramsgate and that this is nearly ready for public consultation and may impact on the future use of the largest shop in the street.
Anyway I would appreciate it if you could read through my objection below.       
72 King Street
CT11 8NY
U. K.
Telephone (01843) 589500
Application Number F/TH/14/0660
Attn Emma Fibbens
Objection to planning application for change of use from retail to housing at 69-73 King Street, Ramsgate CT11 8NX
I am mainly objecting to this application on the grounds that all of the shops between this one and the centre of the town are let and running as shops, with the exception of one that is being refitted and one that was recently closed after a council health inspection.
That deliberately damaging a functioning busy fully occupied shopping street by converting the largest shop in it into social housing is contrary to town centre regeneration.
Brief history dates and amounts may be inaccurate as I am writing this from memory
69-73 King Street traded for many years as a furniture shop, a significant part of their business was supplying furniture to residents of social housing and when they lost the contract about 15 years ago they went bankrupt.
The shop remained empty until about 12 years ago and then traded as a carpet shop until about 6 years ago when the carpet shop closed and the shop was sold at auction.
The building was sold for around £90,000 and was then marketed for around £250,000 and failed to sell. It then went back into auction about 4 years ago with a reserve of 170,000, failed meet its reserve at the auction, but was sold after the auction for £160,000.
At the end of 2011 the new owners applied for planning permission to convert the upper floors to residential and the ground floor from one large shop to 3 smaller shops.
These seemed sensible plans and I don’t think anyone objected to them.
Most recently it was bought by Thanet District Council.
It is important to appreciate that this is the largest shop in King Street and it being closed for the last 6 years has had a very damaging affect on the other business in this part of Ramsgate town centre.
Despite this King Street still remains in a busy shopping street, with the shops on each side of it trading and the shops opposite also still trading apart from at one end of it where it is opposite part of the shop that the council closed down after their health inspection unit visited it.
Ramsgate shopping centre
The most vibrant and successful part of the shopping centre is based around the only viable public car park; Staffordshire Street Car Park Ramsgate 200 spaces. The other large town centre car park is; Leopold Street Multi-story Car Park Ramsgate 394 spaces, somewhere that few women (who do most of the shopping) would venture into, if driving alone.
Ramsgate is the main food-shopping town in East Kent, it has 3 butchers, 2 greengrocers, 2 bakers, 1 fishmonger, within the town centre and all a short distance from Staffordshire Street Car Park.
I have been trading in King Street, opposite 69-73 as a new and secondhand bookseller since 1987 and can confirm that food shoppers from Thanet, Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Herne Bay; all town centres with far fewer independent food retailers use the town and car park for their food shopping.
KCC has a strong vested interest in their large investment in Turner Contemporary and making the shops in area around it survive.
TDC has a strong vested interest in their large investment in Dreamland, a strong desire to see Westwood Cross Shopping Centre succeed and are more focussed on Margate and Westwood than on Ramsgate. 
RTC would like to see much more activity around their offices in Harbour Parade and are trying to move commercial activity that way, although this is hindered by the two nearest retail premises (at the harbour end of Harbour Street) of any consequence being empty, probably because they are too far from Staffordshire Street Car Park.      
The net result of this has been:
The removal of all of the free on street parking in the immediate area of the King Street shops e.g. Turner Street no-through-road and Belmont Street, while on street parking is allowed on narrow streets adjacent to school entrances in Ramsgate e.g. St Ethelbert’s School.
Rubbish and recycling collections taking place in King Street on market day the busiest shopping day there.
The pavement in King Street being in an appalling condition.
Part of the shopping centre within King Street being removed from the town centre for policing purposes.
I should reiterate here that despite these hindrances all of the available shops in King Street between Plains of Waterloo and High Street are open and trading apart from one which was closed by the council and one which is being refitted.
Social housing
King Street in Ramsgate has several late night takeaways licensed until 4am and the street is often very noisy and lively until then. The removal of the town centre police beat means that most of it has the same level of policing as an out of town residential area, so inevitably drunken fights break out in the early hours of the morning.
Since 1987 I have had about 50 late night – early hours shop window breakages.
This is compounded by the situation in Trove Court and Kennedy House, where there is no doorman, so people use the corridors to rough sleep and for drug abuse, means that there is a lot of late night and early hours noise at street level in King Street
This development would mean housing people on the ground floor next to the street, perhaps this sort of social housing is intended by the council as some form of punishment, personally I think it inappropriate.
As this shop is in the main food shopping town centre in the area and very close to the only public car park that most shoppers feel safe using I would recommend that the council approach, Quex Farms and other local food producers with the proposition of turning it into and indoor market, primarily a farmer’s market.    
Best regards Michael


  1. shopping mostly done by women? meh! there's no way when walking around ramsgate shops it's predominantly women i see. very out of touch comment. and if the leopold st car park is an issue for women (which i don't necessarily believe it is) then just sort out that centrally located car park. shops at end of harbour st empty because a long way from staffordshire st car park? meh again! as if that's the only factor at play i think not. tbh, the 'ramsgate shopping centre' pretty much stops at iceland east-wise, and anything beyond that is just cheap hangers-on on the whole.

    by the way, did you know ramsgate society got its ass kicked for unlawful (ie without permission) use of the english heritage logo on their not-very-interesting blue plaque thing they recently did (that's why one of the plaques they have in their window has the logo amateurishly hacked out of it.) english heritage got in touch with them. and to think… they lecture the rest of the town on how to present itself and behave. and they are also retrospectively applying to change the ground floor use of their retail (yes retail) space to part office (yes part office). now that IS undeniably in 'ramsgate shopping centre' area.

  2. Completely agree that it should not be converted to housing. Let's hope the councillors reject it especially as many of them have already resigned

  3. I'm sure the people with bedrooms facing the street can put some curtains up, the way they've done for centuries...

  4. Maybe Michael can ask someone from the Ramsgate Society to respond to the rather serious allegations above. Is Barry James a member?

  5. Thanet council bought it and left it derelict for 3 years?

  6. Thanet rarely changes;

    Proposed development of derelict or empty space - check
    Development objected to on the flimsiest of grounds - check
    Developemnt tied up for inordinate length of time - check
    Ramsgate continues it's downward spiral - check
    Blame for the downward spiral by placing objections to any and all developments blame and attack other for downward spiral - check

    Nice to know there are some constants in life

  7. Not just Ramsgate 3:30, try living in Margate!

    1. I hear you! Thanet has been bogged down by people and groups with their own agendas complaining or objecting about every advancement. Look at Manston, when it was open, the volume of those wanting it closed was turned up. Now it's closed, they have gone away to smugly congratulate each other, while the - object to everything - banner is passed to the new group of objectors, who want it open!
      Unfortunately, I think the Thanet of the 21st century is largely the Thanet that's it's residents have caused, and deserve.

  8. Not really 3:30 TDC have had the site for years so could have done something before now. An objection on the basis of overbuild just as with garden grabbing is perfectly reasonable. Your view is any old development anywhere hence the decline of Thanet into a dump

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Just removed the links to Thanet Eye as I believe the website may have libellous content, apologies if it hasn’t. The law is still fairly vague but I understand that it could cost a few thousand pounds just to tell if you were right or wrong.

    2. So much for free speech you are just selfcensoring

    3. Anon nothing is stopping you endorsing your comment by publishing the information like I do endorsed by a page that links to your real name and address and then putting a link to the page in a comment here.

      Setting up a blog is completely free and requires very limited technical skills, if you get into trouble my solicitor who advises me what to do charges a very reasonable £195 per hour plus VAT.

  10. Anonymous 1:42 - it's not interesting at all. It's a really tedious, flimsy piece of analysis. The story with the new owners is nothing new. Company accrues debt, company borrows against debt, company has a brush with insolvency, company continues trading. This is the story of pretty much any large organisation in the last 10 years. Do you know how much debt Virgin has, and what it's borrowed against? Apple? EMI?


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.