According to an e-mail I received from Kent County Council on 15 September, work on constructing 107 luxury flats and a 60 bed hotel at the Ramsgate seafront Pleasurama site is about to begin.
Following Thanet Council’s sale of the Pleasurama freehold in July 2016 for a reported £3 million the last remaining obstacle to the commencement of the development work – the granting of a “stopping up order” - has now been concluded. According to KCC’s email “the developer’s representative has confirmed this conclusion has allowed preparation to commence for a start (of the development works – my insertion) this Autumn. We are currently awaiting further information and details on their intentions to commence work”
Where have we heard this before? Wasn’t this the oft
So, who is the new Pleasurama developer and is work really about to start on this £30 million construction project now that Autumn has arrived? Well the developer is the Ramsgate Development Company Limited. Documents (formerly known as Cardy Ramsgate). Documents on the Companies House website say that the Ramsgate Development Company is owned and controlled by Swiss domiciled multi-millionaire Colin Hill and his son Robbie.
Colin Hill, as those of you with an interest in the Pleasurama scandal will know, was the financier behind the original Pleasurama developer SFP Ventures UK Limited, who were sacked by Thanet Council in 2014 and replaced by Kent construction giant Cardy via a special purpose company Cardy Ramsgate in 2015.
It was the Hill’s who, through an offshore Panamanian registered company called the Mintal Group Inc, which I believe they probably own, lent Cardy Ramsgate £3 million on 20th July 2016 to purchase the freehold of the Pleasurama site from TDC. Just 14 days later the Cardy construction empire collapsed into liquidation owing its creditors a staggering £18million. This convenient financial collapse enabled the Hills through legal charges on the Pleasurama site to take control of the land and also the development company Cardy Ramsgate which was quickly renamed the Ramsgate Development Company.
So the question must be asked whether a Swiss based multi-millionaire and his son who either own, or have considerable influence over, an offshore Panamanian registered investment company, will now use their not inconsiderable wealth to begin developing the Pleasurama site which they own? Well I’m not holding my breath. Based on past performance, Colin Hill, as the financier behind SFP Ventures UK Ltd, was not averse to lots of promises being made about work commencing but nothing serious happening. So why should things be any different now?
I suspect, like many others, that the real motivation behind the Hill’s manoeuvres is not to build luxury flats on a high-risk flood zone which are unlikely to sell, but to make a nice profit on reselling the land at a significant mark-up. Just as Colin Hill did with land one of his companies owned which used to belong to Peterborough Football Club.
In the meantime, the Pleasurama hoardings continue, as they have done for more than a decade, to despoil and blight a prime Ramsgate seafront location and occupy thousands of square metres of public promenade, even though building work is highly unlikely to ever start. I sincerely hope that KCC will “later this month” hold a meeting “to review our position and set our timetable in regard to the next steps we may take in regards to the current (hoarding) licence”. I hope that this may result in the Hill’s being ordered to remove the hoarding, move it back the perimeter of the land they own, and repair, restore and free up thousands of square metres of public land they have occupied under false pretences for more than a decade.
I’m surprised and disappointed that it has been left to me a, local blogger, to research, enquire and break news about an issue which is of huge public interest and which is clearly the responsibility of Ramsgate’s Kent County Councillors. I can’t understand why Labour County Councillor for Ramsgate, Karen Constantine, appears not to followed up on all of her high profile election promises to local residents “to get to the absolute bottom” of the Pleasurama debacle; “to force action if the eyesore isn’t completed” and to press KCC “really hard on the on going saga of Pleasurama”. Not a word has she published about the results of all her claimed “pressing”, “pushing” and “working hard” on the Pleasurama issue.
Clearly, like all politicians, talk is very cheap for Constantine and promises easily broken. But this duplicitous and cynical behaviour equally applies to Conservative KCC councillor for Ramsgate, Paul Messenger who, just like Constantine, appears to have neglected the need to take action over this appalling and unacceptable 20 years blight on Ramsgate’s seafront. A blight which is all the more apparent and stark now that the nearby Royal Victoria Pavilion has been restored to its former glory.