My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Ramsgate Pleasurama: Works Delayed Till 2017 (If Ever!)

Former Thanet District Councillor, Ian Driver, has said that “it’s highly unlikely” that the construction of  107 flats and a 70 bedroom luxury hotel  at the controversial Ramsgate seafront Pleasurama site will begin until the spring of  2017.

The large derelict site which overlooks Ramsgate’s main sands has according to Driver “blighted the town’s  seafront for over 14 years and served to deter inward  investment because it looks like a massive bomb site and generates a feeling neglect and deprivation  around the seafront area ”.

SFP Ventures Ltd  were selected by  Thanet Council in 2002 to be the councils development partner for what was supposed to be a prestigious seafront regeneration project, but apart from the construction of foundations in 2010, precious  little progress was made on completing what has been estimated to be £30million worth  of construction works.

In 2013 local people organised themselves into the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront, a pressure group which  drew up alternative, leisure focused plans, for the site and which  forced  Thanet Council to  launch an investigation into its management of the Pleasurama project and its badly performing developers, SFP Ventures.

In 2015 Canterbury based building company Cardy’s   bought out  SFP Ventures Ltd  and became the new site developer. Cardy’s agreed to pay Thanet Council a reported £3million to buy the freehold of the site once repairs to the cliff face overlooking the site had been completed. They also undertook to  begin building the  flats and hotel once the sale had been completed.  Works to repair the cliff face commenced in July 2015 but completion was delayed until April 2016. Since then, to the astonishment of local people, nothing appears to have happened.

It has  emerged today , in reply to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Driver that  The sale (of the Pleasurama site)  has not been completed and  the capital receipt has not been received by the council. The reason for the delay in payment and commencement of building works “relates to the 'stopping up' of the highway which is being dealt with by Kent County Council and which will incur a significant delay in completing the disposal. This further delay is expected to be at least three months”.

Said Driver “allowing for delays in securing  the  highway stopping-up order and adverse winter weather I think it would be totally unrealistic to expect the sale of the land to be completed  and building work to commence until spring 2017. That’s an astonishing 15 years after Thanet Council first gave the green light to build the project”.

He added “Surely both Cardy and Thanet Council must have known all-along that roads would have to be closed to allow contractors, equipment and supplies  access to the Pleasurama site so why have they waited until now to request a highway stopping-up order. Any sensible developer would have submitted an application for a  stopping-up ages ago so that it was ready and waiting on the day the cliff face repairs had been completed. I can only assume that this poor timing was a deliberate decision aimed at  delaying the project perhaps because Cardy might be struggling to raise enough money to fund the building works  or maybe to allow time for Thanet Council and Cardy to re-negotiate the terms of the development agreement. Either way I am extremely doubtful the project will ever be completed. Less than a quarter of a mile along the seafront is the Beach Retreat development of 7 luxury £500,000 seafront flats. This development was completed 18 months ago and despite extensive marketing efforts only 2 flats have been sold. If its proving difficult to sell 7, nearby,  seafront flats then what chance is there of selling 107? Especially when the 107 are going to be built on a site designated by the Environment Agency as a high risk flood zone ".

MISTAKE  & APOLOGY TO READERS  Cllr Lin Fairbrass has alerted me to a error  in my explanation of the stopping-up order. This is what she said  "This has nothing to do with access to the site and is not the fault of TDC. A former roundabout which has already been removed and replaced within the Pleasurama site is still registered as highways land. Lawyers are currently working on the removal of this registration". 

Thanks to Lin for correcting me. I will be contacting KCC tomorrow to try to find out more.

In the meantime it is still is the case that building works on the site will l be delayed until  spring 2017 meaning that the people of  Ramsgate will have had to  endure 15 years of living with an  appalling  and massive eyesore at a prime seafront location .

I find it hard to believe that KCC has  failed to identify this problem and deal with it much sooner. It's inconceivable that TDC didn't know either as the hold all the plans and permissions for the site.

Whatever the reasons for the delay I  still stand by my comments about the possibility that Cardy  will try to re-negotiate the development contract with Thanet Council and that  building works on the site may never take  place at all. Beach Retreat is  powerful evidence of that  possibility.    

2 comments:

  1. THIS IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN THEFT these companies, officers and councillors who have allowed this to happen to us all should be fined for these stalling tactics. this place should always be for leisure time, fun and relaxation. the only thing left to do is take control surely. these highly paid powers that be are scared. Peterborough council too the bull by the horns and took their land back. it did cost them but what has this cost us in the long run :-(

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  2. Fairbrass as always fails to grasp the key point - why hasn't she cancelled this mess and cleared the site for Summer? The rusty concrete pilings will need removing anyway. She's out of her depth.

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