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.
|Councillor Jack Cohen||Chairman||Expected|
|Councillor Clive Hart||Vice-Chairman||Expected|
|Councillor Steve Alexandrou||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Mrs Rosalind Binks||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor John Martin Edwards||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Michelle Fenner||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor William A Hayton||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Thomas King||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor John D Kirby||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Mrs Ela Lodge-Pritchard||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Mrs Jennifer Matterface||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Pat Moore||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Brian M Sullivan||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Mrs Shirley Tomlinson||Committee Member||Expected|
|Councillor Miss Linda Wright||Committee Member||Expected|
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
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.
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