July 2007 | home thanetonline.com michaelsbookshop.com Click here for books about The Isle of Thanet Dangerous cliff ?
this link takes you to the rest of my Pleasurama site this link takes you to my previous correspondence
July 2007 | Thanet District Council press release | Pleasurama update 6/6/2007 another years delay! | The temporary railings | Ramsgate | latest news | heads embedded in the concrete | Simon Moores Thanet life | Michael Child | Latest views | Details from the latest plans | Pictures 2007 | April 2007 | April replies | Replies to my email about the new introduction January 2007 | David Green | pleasurama update | Seafront site ready for rejuvenation | Companies House Search | correspondence | prompt replies | Action | Riddles | Committee | more | Follow up | councillors | councillors revised | spam your councillors | Councillors responses | Economical with the truth | The Member Portal | Taking the member out of the portal | Ken Gregory | Gerry O'Donnell | survey | May 2007 | Cracks over the voids | Engineers report on the condition of the cliff | more report | election results
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.
For a number of years the main leisure area behind Ramsgate sands has been an unsightly and deserted building site. The famous view from the cliff top blighted by a high temporarily fence. A series of blunders made by Thanet District Council, the would-be developers and their architects have been to blame for this situation.
Over the years as the dreadful project has evolved I have tried both to discover what is happening and to point out some of the errors on the plans. From time to time I have published the information on this site.
The Pleasurama complex was once the town's main leisure attraction with a mixture of bars cafes amusements and a funfair.
First it was stripped of all its major assets, the best rides in the fun fair and so on; the owner said it was no longer viable, and closed it. It was said that the intention was to create a shopping complex within the existing Victorian building.
The next stage was the Council redesigned the promenade area surrounding it to harmonise with the new shopping centre. Strangely enough their new design removed nearly all the car parking on the promenade the effect of which was to cripple the economics of Ramsgate.
While all this was going on the buildings were left empty and were destroyed by fire (I think this was in 1999). The building was owned by Thanet District Council and leased by the amusement operator. After some time the council terminated the lease but seemed unable to recover the insurance money.
Next the council asked for tenders to rebuild our main leisure complex. Several plans were submitted including one, the design of which was based on the Victorian brick arched design of the cliff on the other side of the harbour. Included in this one was a public swimming pool to be donated to the council on completion. Local residents saw various proposed projects but it appeared that nothing had been finalised.
Next one of the members of the local residents association discovered that the council had accepted a development that appeared from the plans to be higher than the cliff top behind it. No plans of this development had been on public display although the council had several shop premises in Ramsgate that they used as offices of enquiry and would have been the obvious and proper place to display them.
The members of the town's resident's association, and those of the Ramsgate Society, plus many more concerned people, none of whom knew anything about the development, contacted Thanet District Council and were told that it was too late to object. They were told that there was to be a planning meeting to finalise and pass the plans the following week. At this meeting the council indeed passed the plans despite being aware that the building was unsuitable for its situation.
The new building was to have been 250 meters long about a sixth of a mile for those of us who can only visualise dimensions this way. Concrete with PVC windows and a zinc roof which is gull winged, arguably of some architectural merit in the right surroundings, from below the gull winged roof would have looked quite majestic and gave it a 1930s look. Unfortunately when viewed from above it would have looked like a lot of old tin sheds, very large tin sheds at that.
There then followed a series of communications between myself and various other residents and the council. Mine are published on this site, the result of which was that the council promised not to sell the site to the developer unless the produced plans for a building that was mostly lower than the cliff top.
Eventually the resident's association received new plans and lent them to me because I can read an engineering drawing, which is fairly similar. A height reduction of about 2.5 meters had been achieved in two ways: the gull wings had been removed and with them any architectural merit the building possessed; the ground floor (car park, shops, hotel, restaurants, fitness centre, children's play area etc.) had been lowered 1.5 meters. This is 1.5 metres below the high tide flood level. Floods are occasionally caused in this area when wind and tide from the North Sea and the English Channel meet. Further examination of the plans showed that the inside of the new building would have been 1 meter taller than the outside.
It was at this point that I realised that the architects and the council-planning department were incompetent. I have been unable to tell the developer about this as the council tell me his name and address is a secret.
I have tried to make correspondence with the various people involved as humorous as possible. The Tardis like nature of the building I find particularly hard to discuss seriously with the people who claim to be capable of governing us.
I notice that a third set of plans has appeared on the government planning website this said building, in this last set of plans has lost its final remaining interesting feature, that of being bigger inside than out although it still sits in a five foot deep lake of seawater, when weather conditions dictate. The reasons why the architects continue to insist that the inside height stays the same size instead if designing a building that fits in the space available is very difficult to understand.
There are many other fundamental faults with the plans that are all still on the government planning website, the application number is F/TH/03/1200. The most peculiar being the parking arrangements (the building of the development will remove the main beach car park) included in the development is a 180 space secure private car park 1 space for each of the 107 flats and one for each of the 60 bedrooms in the hotel leaving 13 for staff. There are no spaces for the shops, hotel, restaurants, fitness centre, children's play area, visitors to residents, conference centre or anyone wishing to use the beach.
The really sad thing though is that this failure to abide by the laws of nature, if not the wishes of the townsfolk has done so much to spoil an otherwise beautiful town for the last eight years.
Those of us who have followed this comedy of errors and have been told by Thanet District Council that as the planning stage is completed the construction work will begin in the next few weeks.
You may think this sort of thing is new in Ramsgate, I have just reprinted John Smeaton's report on Ramsgate Harbour. He was called in at various times to sort out the mess when the architects, developers and the governing body combined to produce a series of problems. At this time the building of harbours and bridges was about equivalent to rocket science today, so most of their excuses were fairly valid. When the harbour was first built it filled up with so much sand that it pretty much dried out at low tide, it was in fact completely unfit for purpose. The cure for this made the water in it so rough that once again it was in fact completely unfit for purpose. When the dry dock was built although Smeaton had been consulted the builder decided to change his design and materials so that when it was emptied the water forced up the bottom and the side cracked open. Reading his account over 200 years later full of unfortunatelys' and unforeseens' as it is. It is a wonderfully polite account to government of the doing of an incompetent developer.
The Pleasurama site in about 1870