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My attempts learn about the Pleasurama project have lead me into a dialogue with Thanet District Council about their website and the way they pass on correspondence to councillors. Click on the links above to read the correspondence.

Thanet District Council press release

I sent this to all and sundry 27.6.2007

Thanet District Council have issued the second press release about the delayed Pleasurama development this year, as the previous one had some inaccuracies I have done a certain amount of research into this one before commenting, I have put the press release at the bottom of this email.

Having spent a considerable amount of time studying the various plans submitted it still seems to me that the only way to fit the development into the 14.7 meters space between a safe base level and the cliff top would be to redesign it completely, until this is done there is really no way forward.

I should also point out that we the taxpayers have already paid for the existing highway work around the site that was done in preparation for the previous development which was a waste of money. I shall vigorously oppose the wasting of further money until I have seen an approved plan for a building that fits in the space available, these plans must have a shown ground floor level approved as being safe by the environment agency.

It is important to understand that the environment agency’s main concern is the effect of wave action during a storm and high tide, so that the two factors they take into account are the height of the sea defence and how far the building is behind it meaning that they have no precise level that they consider safe as this varies according to how near the building is to the sea.
Next further concerns it is unclear as to whether the intention is to implement the works to repair the dangerous cliff recommended by Jacobs Baptie civil engineers in April 2005 or merely to paper over the cracks.
The newly appointed contractor in a highly reputable building firm with a good track record, frankly they don’t seem to have ever produced a bad development and I don’t think they would be prepared to damage their reputation by doing so in the case of Pleasurama. They are a large family run company and the managing director spoke to me on my first telephone call, something that suggests we may be moving into an area of cooperation and even local consultation. They don’t however seem to have ever tackled anything on the scale of, or with the difficulties of the Pleasurama development. Here is their website address http://www.knightdevelopmentsltd.co.uk/ and that of their parent company Knight Environmental Limited http://www.knightenvironmental.co.uk/aboutus.htm it is most encouraging that we have a firm that has actually built buildings involved now.

Unfortunately TDC hadn’t told the contractors about the problems relating to the site and the plans, why this should be simply beggars belief, what their motives could be is beyond any sort of common sense, that contractors should hear about it first from me is patently ridiculous.

So on the one hand we have the environment agency urgently looking into my concerns about the flood and storm risk, while on the other a contractor is appointed but not told about the main problem with the site.
For those of you unfamiliar with the problem here is a brief résumé of the current situation.

On some of the plans a line showing the cliff top is included from this it is possible to determine an approximate height for the car park and ground floor above datum. At its lowest the cliff behind the building is 21.7 meters high on the plans the building is shown to be of different heights on the various plans submitted between 18 and 16.75 meters tall. If the building is to be below the cliff top as promised this gives a base line of 4.95 where as the environment agency seem to be talking in terms of about 7 as an absolute minimum meaning that there is an extra 2.05 meters of height that just don't fit, (heights given are all above datum, in layman’s term this is a standard low tide level).

Finally I have repeatedly asked since 2003 that the site be made tidy an usable until such time as the major issues relating to the site have been resolved, I have particularly asked that something is done in this respect for this coming summer season.
I will publish any comments at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/ unless you ask me not.
Kind regards to you all Michael.

Thanet District Council’s Press Release 20.6.2007
Pleasurama work due to start in autumn
Work on a major leisure and retail development on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate is to begin this autumn.
Knight Developments Limited has been appointed as the contractors on the Royal Sands development, which will see a quality hotel, retailing and housing being built on the seafront site. Work will begin in late autumn, after the summer season, to minimise disruption to local businesses. They have carried out detailed site investigation work and have now confirmed that they will be using a different piling method, which will reduce the impact that the work will have on local residents.

The development agreement between Thanet District Council, owners of the site and SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd., requires that the highway work must be the first phase of work undertaken. During this time, treatment work to address some surface drainage problems will also be undertaken to the cliff face by Thanet District Council, which is due to be completed by Spring 2008, at which point the temporary fencing on the cliff top will be removed and replaced with new cliff top railings.

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture, said: “The news that work will be starting on the new Royal Sands development in late autumn is excellent news for Thanet. This will provide a new quality hotel and retailing, along with housing, on a key seafront site in Ramsgate that local people have been looking forward to seeing redeveloped for a number of years. I am aware that there have been reports that the work on the Pleasurama site would not be starting until next year, but this is simply untrue. The project will begin in the autumn with the highway work. Under the development agreement, this has to be completed before any building work can begin on site.

“We know that nearby residents have anxiously been waiting for the repairs on the cliff face to start and the removal of the temporary fencing and I am delighted that this will also be the first part of the work undertaken on the site. This means that the new clifftop railings should be in place by late spring of next year, news which I am sure local people will welcome.”
William Anthony, Managing Director of Knight Developments Limited, said: "We are delighted to be involved in such an important and prestigious scheme and are looking forward to starting the highway works in the Autumn. We will be working closely with local people during the construction phase and will be keeping them informed of progress. We will also be working to ensure that any impact on them is minimised.”

David Green has also been at work on this one click here to see his blog

This is what he has to say

I've had my meeting with Thanet Council Officers John Bunnett and Brian White concerning Pleasurama.

Contrary to various rumours, they have assured me that there have been no revisions to the design of the building since the 2003 plans as approved in 2006. They now have a copy of plans annotated by the developer to show the height of the various floors, and they are content with this.
They tell me that there has been no discussion regarding the roof treatment or access to the site during construction. They seem to regard these as matters between the contractor and residents or the highways authority respectively! They say they have agreement with the developer that the developer will arrange a meeting with residents in September to present these matters.

There are new plans submitted, but not approved, that only split up the building into "blocks", each with its own entrance. The hotel may be larger than original. There is still no entrance or exit above sea level.

The officers profess no knowledge of any concerns of the Environment Agency concerning flooding.

With regard to the cliff fence, they now agree that work can start on the cliff in the autumn though they seem unclear as to what precisely will be done. They contend that there was no way they could predict that pile driving would not be required, indeed JB thinks it still might be! They have drawn up specifications for tender in terms of outcomes required, but not what needs to be done to acheive those outcomes. They have promised me a copy of the specification.

It would appear that the design of the replacement fence may be a problem due to cost. They also say that the cliff will need solid wooden fencing until building work below is finished!

One small item of good news, is that H & E permitting, I have agreement of Cllr Latchford that the travelling fair attending the Power Boats can remain on the Pleasurama site over July/August. County Cllr Elizabeth Green had raised this simultaneously with the Cheif Exec, and they are agreeable to it.

I hope this is a fair summary, I am copying to those concerned so there is no doubt.
posted by Cllr David Green at 16:11 on 26-Jun-2007

 Michael child said...

David thanks for your continued work on this one, I hope the following helps.

Firstly it would appear only set of plans to be approved i.e. those marked as approved on the government planning site are those where the building is shown as being bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. (approval granted 28.01.2004) When the subsequent revisions come up for approval, as they surely must, i.e. for a building that conforms to the laws of nature does anyone know if will there be any public consultation or opportunity to object?

The copy of the plans annotated with heights shown, I assuming these are the ones that the environment agency asked for in March, when I spoke to them recently they said they still hadn’t received them.

I have been in contact with the contractor’s managing director William Anthony who was unaware of some of the problems relating to the site and the development he will come back to me when he has looked into these issues.

For those of you unaware of the environment agency’s position, the latest set of plans they have received show no cliff top access to the development, something that they consider unacceptable as there would be no escape route for residents in a flood and storm emergency.

Most importantly however they consider the minimum safe height for the ground floor and car park to be 7 meters above datum with the lowest part of the cliff behind the development being 21.7 above datum this leaves 14.7 meters as the maximum build height. Clearly this is not sufficient for the lowest amended building of 16.75 meters.

Can anyone clarify the position with the cliff top fence, does this mean that once a new fence is completed in the spring a wooden fence will erected in front of it to stop us from seeing the view altogether?

I won’t labour the other points that David has raised, but would like to point out that there is a communication problem here, between all the people involved and because of it the delays continue. After 8 years since Pleasurama closed all that has been achieved in reality are approved plans for a building externally 16 meters high while internally 17 meters high to fit in a space 14.7 meters high.

I am not quite clear what is meant by the travelling fair being on the Pleasurama site, does this mean that some of it is to be surfaced?
27 June, 2007 12:44