For far too long Ramsgate seafront has been blighted by the Pleasurama site. I’m unaware of any other seaside town in the UK which has been forced to endure the eyesore of a derelict building site despoiling a prime stretch of its seafront for almost 20 years. This is entirely the fault of Tory and Labour councillors and senior TDC bosses who devised and approved a stupid scheme to build 107 flats and 60 bed hotel on a site with a high flood risk assessment located under a cliff face which requires perpetual and expensive maintenance at the public expense.There are also serious questions about how and why Labour councillors selected the project developers in 2002; why council officers failed to properly monitor the project; why Tory and Labour councillors failed to follow officer advice in 2008 to sack the developers. Most astonishing of all is why UKIP councillors and TDC bosses allowed the sale of the freehold of the Pleasurama site to go ahead in July 2016 when Cardy Construction, who were party to the secret Pleasurama Development Agreement, was only days away from entering administration.
We may never know the answers to these questions but the people of Ramsgate will, sadly, have to live with the consequences of the incompetence and maladministration of Labour, Tory and UKIP politicians and council bosses for years to come as the Pleasurama site continues to fester and drag down what should be a vibrant area of the seafront full of local businesses and tourists generating money for the local economy.
One of these consequences is that the Pleasurama site hoarding has occupied a large section of the promenade for almost a decade. To erect a hoarding on what is the public highway the site owner must secure a licence from Kent County Council. The application fee is £42 and the site owner must then pay £42 for every seven days the hoarding occupies the highway. That’s £2,190 per year. Because no construction work has occurred on site for at least 6 years and because its extremely unlikely that any construction work will occur in the foreseeable future there is no need whatsoever for the hoarding. It should now be moved back to the perimeter of the Pleasurama site and any damage sustained to the promenade occupied by the hoarding made good by the site owner.
I have e-mailed Kent County Council about this matter and here’s a copy. I will keep you posted when I have reply.
Dear Sir/ Madam
Hoarding Ramsgate Pleasurama Site
Whilst still a Thanet councillor, I wrote to you in 2014 and 2015 regarding the hoarding surrounding the Ramsgate Pleasurama site. On both occasions I was informed that the hoarding would remain in place for the duration of the development works. As you are probably aware the Pleasurama builders, Cardy, are in administration and will shortly be liquidated and, 2 years on from our correspondence, no construction work has commenced on site.
I can therefore see no justification for the hoarding to continue to occupy the public highway. Indeed the hoarding appears to me to be in clear breach of licence conditions namely conditions 6 “No hoarding/ site fence shall remain on the highway longer than is necessary” and 17 that the licence “is being issued on the understanding that the hoarding/ site fence is being used in connection with work at the premises and for no other purpose”. In light of these breaches I request that you order the site owners to move back the hoarding to the perimeter of the land they own and in accordance with licensing condition 3 ensure that “any damage sustained by highway surfaces during erection, use and removal of the hoarding/ site fencing shall be made good by the owner”
Furthermore, I am concerned about other matters related to the hoarding licence conditions. First the freehold of the site is now owned by the Ramsgate Development Company Limited. I have walked the length of the hoarding and contrary to condition 1 I found no signage including “company name, daytime telephone number and emergency, out of hours contact numbers” which is required “to be displayed at all times”. The only signage I located was related to the now defunct Cardy.
Second I would like to know if the Ramsgate Development Company has secured the £5million public liability insurance as required by licensing condition 11 and whether or not KCC has seen copies of the relevant insurance policy. Third, the hoarding has been in place for an unusually long period of time covering many years I would be grateful if you could tell me whether and when KCC has made any recent site visits to ascertain its condition and safety, or whether and when KCC has sought evidence from the site owner that’s the fencing is safe and for purpose.
Finally please provide me with copies of all correspondence and documents exchanged between KCC, Thanet District Council and the site owners/ developers relating to the Pleasurama site hoarding/fence and details of any meetings and site visits (dates attendees minutes and notes) relating to this matter from 2014 to date.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely Ian Driver