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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.

July 2007  

I have sent the following out to all the people on my Pleasurama email list

Pleasurama update once again first the good news thanks to the hard work by Council Officers and cross party cooperation between councillors David Green and Roger Latchford the site has been mostly cleared and has already hosted one leisure activity.

You may wish to look at the pictures of the powerboat weekend at http://www.thanetonline.com/pb/ to see what I mean.

Further good news the fairground will return and they aim to be in place from the 16th July until 31st August however within the agreement there is a" let out clause" for them to pull out should trade or weather be poor.

Next the problems relating to the development, the underlying problem here seems to one of communication between all of the parties concerned (SFP the developers, PRC Fewster Architects, Knight Developments Limited the builders, Thanet District Council, The Environment Agency, The Health and Safety Executive; well the list goes on but you get the idea.

Summarised as

1 The developers contact details appear to still be secret so there is no one that one can contact who is in overall control of the project.

2 TDC don't appear to have a council officer appointed as project manager who all parties can liaise with.

3 The Architect is very difficult to contact by telephone and doesn't answer emails.

4 The builders don't answer emails.

None of the parties involved appear to have any experience of constructing a large building between a potentially dangerous cliff and a sea defence liable to heavy storms. In fact the whole thing is a bit of a dogs dinner.

The situation with the plans at the moment appears to be the following.

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)
The architect Steve Wood tells me that the latest set of amended plans have had to be changed considerably to allow better access to the cliff for maintenance, but I haven't seen these as they haven't yet appeared on the government planning website.
The environment agency say, 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.

When I spoke to the environment agency last week they told me they still hadn't received plans with the levels marked on them nor did the understand which set of plans had actually been approved.

There is also apparently a further set of completely different set of plans now in existence but these haven't appeared on the government planning website either.

I received the following from David Green, which helps to clarify the position.

I had my meeting with John Bunnett and Brian White concerning Pleasurama.
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 achieve 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 Latchford that the travelling fair attending the Power Boats can remain on the Pleasurama site over July/August. Liz had raised this simultaneously with the Chief 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.

I certainly don't like the sound of repairing the cliff top railings only to construct a solid wooden fence that will deprive us of the view once again.

I will publish this and any comments on the website as usual unless you ask me not to.

Best regards Michael.