David Green
Letter to the editor
13/11/2004 12:59:13 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:


thanetextra@thekmgroup.co.uk, news@meridiantv.com, newsdesk.thanet@kentregionalnewspapers.co.uk, editorial@kosmedia.co.uk, editor.thanet@kentregionalnewspapers.co.uk

Dear Sir
As the discussion over the proposed development on the old Pleasurama site turns to technicalities of planning law and legalities, it is perhaps time to remind ourselves what the issue is about. The attached illustration, supplied by the developer to Thanet Council, is perhaps the best impression of what the historic views from Ramsgate Eastern Prominade will be reduced to if the proposed development is built. Remember, the view from the Western Prominade is already ruined by the ferry port.
Thanet Council department of lies and half truths claims that the Council has taken concerns over the height into account. Not true! The development is still to be above the cliff top, and still an unsightly galavanised tin roof!
In pursuit of this crazy action, the Tory Cabinet at TDC is ignoring a petition of thousands of Thanet residents, is breaking planning law, is failing to carry out a vote of the full Council and is not even getting best value for the site for the Council tax payer. We now know that the Council is subsidising the developer by over £1M.
What Thanet, Ramsgate and this site needs is a development that respects its environment and provides a much needed leisure facility adjacent to Ramsgate sands.
Can no-one put a stop to this madness?
Cllr David Green
27 La Belle Alliance Square

Subject: Re: cabinet meeting tomorrow
Date: 12/11/2004 13:25:56 GMT Standard Time
From: Michael Child
Reply To:  
To: dgreen.home@btinternet.com

Thanks, its a strange old world you know, as far as I can see development must start within 3 months and yet no one seems to know how high it will be.
I really genuinely don't think any of the people who made the decision could tell one what could be seen by someone standing on the cliff edge in front of the bandstand and looking out to sea. Beach, sea, horizon or just sky?
My calculations come out just below the horizon, but small variations to the height at the front of the building make huge differences to the view.
It would help I think if we could get a maximum height above the cliff top for all of the building apart from the 2 bits that have to stick up.
All the best Michael
In a message dated 12/11/2004 06:43:38 GMT Standard Time, dgreen.home@btinternet.com writes:

Dear Michael
Thank you for your suggestions. I did in fact speak at the Cabinet meeting, as I have every time Pleasurama has been discussed. I've attached more or less what I said. You will see that I covered at least one of your points. One has only a very limited time to speak.
You will know by now that option a was, in fact adopted, though from what was said by Cllr Bayford, I think we have some way to go to ensure that the side-letter concerning variations of design actually meets our requirements.
David Green
There are a number of points in Jennifer Seeley’s paper to Cabinet that I feel should be clarified before Cabinet proceeds to a decision.
I would argue that the best description of "original concept" is indeed the list of key design features, plus the architects drawing of the design. The two together clearly show the intended relationship with the cliff-top and the landscaped gardens.
As this Council has a major financial interest in this development, I don’t believe we should rely upon subjective opinions concerning the impact on the conservation area and the listed buildings, including Wellington Crescent and the bandstand. We have at least two letters from English Heritage commenting critically upon the development as now proposed. We also have an "in house" conservation architect, who’s views, as far as I know, have not been sort. Because of the financial interest and because of the departures from the local plan the Council is clearly at fault in not reporting the application to the ODPM for a determination, thus denying the public the chance of a public enquiry.
A side letter may be a way forward. To be acceptable however, we would need to see precisely what is proposed compared with the "original concept" before Cabinet proceeds to a decision. Without this detail we have no way of judging whether the residual impact would be acceptable in relation to the conservation area, and no way of assessing if what is being proposed would be acceptable to the planning authorities. I believe we should invite English Heritage’s and the Ramsgate public’s opinion of what is now being proposed before Cabinet proceeds. In fact, Ramsgate public opinion has already been sort, by the developer’s agent. Publication of the results of this survey would help to enhance transparency and public confidence.
3.3 The reliance on a performance bond instead of the usual "due diligence" checks is controversial. I believe we require detailed legal consideration that the bond proposed does protect the Council’s interests in all aspects, before Cabinet proceeds to a decision. There is also the aspect of transparency and public confidence. The use of an offshore company shields from public view the identities of the beneficiaries associated with the development. Although no evidence of impropriety has been produced, and we would all prefer to believe that there is none, it would be in the public interest if the Company concerned declared all its partners, shareholders and beneficiaries.
7.2 (See notes on Annex A below) The current offer is significantly more than previously on the table. In itself, this fully justifies the Labour actions over this development. At least £1M extra will accrue to the Council. The current offer is still less than the offer we negotiated however.
However the current offer still seriously undervalues the site, which should be £4 M without including £860,000 appropriate as a contribution for affordable housing. This under-valuation of over £1M is serious and very difficult to justify under the grounds given, as in itself the development will create little employment, will add nothing to the social life of the area, and will have detrimental effect on the environment. We should seek an opinion from the District Auditor before Cabinet proceeds to a decision.
In summary, as Eastcliff Ward Councillor, bearing in mind the reservations expressed above, I can give the progress made a cautious welcome. We are moving back to the situation agreed by the previous Council administration. I would hope that the current leadership would have the grace to apologise for their remarks that we were "showboating" or in someway political mischief making. The Council is already potentially £1M better off because of our actions.
I would hope that the Cabinet recognises that the proposed development was always disappointing to many in Ramsgate because it lacks a leisure-enhancing dimension. I hope that the Cabinet will recognise this and will pledge that the monies accruing to the Council from this development, especially the extra £1M, will be reserved for the development of enhanced leisure facilities in Ramsgate. These enhancements are sorely needed, not least to make the Hotel and retail associated with the current development viable.

I have read the report unfortunately I didn’t receive it until yesterday.
I wonder would you be prepared to attend the meeting on my behalf and address Cabinet under what is known as Council Procedure Rule 24(1).
This rule allows a Member of Council (who is not a Member of the
Committee or Board) to address Cabinet and put points forward for

Point 1 Council members, due to the nature of SFP Ventures Ltd (formerly SFP Venture Partners Ltd “SFP”) have no protection against accusations of financial involvement in the project. The cabinet may wish to consult with their financial and legal department to see if there is any way that protection could be arranged.
Point 2 The retail part would appear to have no customer parking while the development entails the removal of the main car park in the area. The cabinet may wish to consider the effect this will have on the businesses both within the development and the surrounding area. The cabinet may wish to take advice as to whether the capacity of the remaining parking could be increased.
Point 3 It would seem likely that the cabinet would elect for option (a)
Disposal of the land at Ramsgate Boulevard to SFP Ventures Ltd, under the terms set out in the Development Agreement, supplemented by the side letter to have the effect of the developer seeking a variation to reduce the height of hotel lift-tower, the staircase shelter, and vary the roof treatment”
In view of the considerable public concern about the height the cabinet might consider a side letter that held the developer to the Planning and Design Statement that says.
"The views of Wellington Crescent at the top of the cliff will be retained when viewed from the harbour and the shore line, with the proposed scheme set below the cliff top.
When viewed from ground level along Wellington Crescent the buildings will not be visible as they are below the cliff face. When viewed from the cliff edge, the buildings will provide an extension to the gardens with the roof terraces. It will also enhance the existing views replacing the unsightly vacant land. The roof design will provide architectural interest whilst allowing views of the sea to remain."
With the obvious exception of the shelter over the steps.
All the best Michael.
In a message dated 01/11/2004 23:04:31 GMT Standard Time, dgreen.home@btinternet.com writes:
I thought you might like to know that I have tonight received the agenda for the next TDC Cabinet meeting next week. The development on the old Pleasurama site is an agenda item. Unfortunately the officers paper to accompany the agenda item are "to follow", so I dont yet know what is proposed. I would have thought that if you emailed Sharon Humber or Jennifer Seeley at TDC, they would send a copy direct to you once it is available.
David Green

Thanks David
Have published your email at thanetonline.com
I am trying to work out how big the retail development on the ground floor of either proposal is and what parking if any there is for either of them. It may me be just me but I can't seem to make all the planning documents agree.
All the best Michael
In a message dated 28/10/2004 14:53:55 GMT Standard Time, dgreen.home@btinternet.com writes:
Dear Michael,
As one of your Eastcliff ward councillors, I can only apologise for the difficulties you appear to have had in emailing Councillors. I have asked one of my colleagues to clarify with the relevent Council Officers the precise reasons for the difficulties. I do know that some of us have been pressing the Council for some time to adopt a standard form of email address for Councillors and to facilitate automatic forwarding to the Councillor's private addresses. We are assured that this will be happening but we have no implementation date yet.
With regard to the content of your email (I received paper copy on Monday evening), there is little I can usefully say at this stage. I believe you know the Labour group's position on the proposed development on the Pleasurama site. We support a development as described in the proposal put to full Council in Dec 2001. This proposal did not breach the clifftop in height and had a landscaped roof. This position has not changed. We are aware of real concerns over the price the Council is likely to obtain for sale of the land concerned, the financial security offered by the proposed developers, and the likely benefits or otherwise in terms of a contribution to affordable housing.
We expected revised proposals to come before the TDC Cabinet at their October meeting. As that did not happen, we can only anticipate that there are problems to be resolved.
As an aside, I find it quite extroidinary that Cllr Kirby, as a Ramsgate Councillor, and member of TDC Cabinet is refusing to comment on the situation. This current administration likes to preach openness and willingness to consult. Their performance does not match their words.
Best wishes
David Green

Re: Pleasurama situation
19/04/2004 13:18:16 GMT Daylight Time
Michael Child
Right-click picture(s) to display picture options

Dear David
My apologies for not contacting you, it was my intention to contact all the councillors but I came up against problems with the TDC website. A lot of the email addresses are out of date and don't work. If you have an up to date list of the councillors email addresses it would be very helpful.

I should very much like to see a copy of Dec 2002 proposal, if it is available in electronic format I would be happy to link to it or publish it on the Thanet online website

I have received some email from other members of the council about this and will publish it at http://www.thanetonline.com/Pleasurama/
Kind regards Michael

Subj:Pleasurama situation Date:18/04/2004 21:59:54 GMT Daylight TimeFrom:cllr.d.green@btinternet.comTo: michaelchild@aol.comSent from the Internet (Details)

Dear Michael

You havn't asked me, but may I comment on your question anyway?

The Dec 2002 proposal does not have Planning Permission.

The decision passed at the 1st April Council
Moved by Councillor Ezekiel, seconded by Councillor J D Kirby, that:
"(A) the planning application approved by Planning Committee on 28th January 2004 be noted;
(B) the action taken to protect the Council's interests as detailed in paragraph 4 of the report be noted;
(C) the financial information contained in the restricted annex to the report and the likely financial receipt to the Council from the sale of the land at Ramsgate Boulevard to SFP be noted'
(D) the continuing efforts of officers and Cabinet Members to bring the development about, with a view to completing the necessary legal paperwork with SFP within a two month timeframe be noted and the agreement of Cabinet be required to the final terms for the disposal and development of the site, including the budgetary elements; and
(E) officers be instructed to report back to the Council meeting on 8th July 2004 on the progress on this project".
Amendment moved by Councillor R Nicholson, seconded by Councillor Harrison, that:
"in (D) above the words "the development about" be removed and replaced with "a satisfactory development about, which meets the original concept accepted by Council on 5th December 2002".
Amendment moved by Councillor Harrison, seconded by Councillor R Nicholson, that:
"in (C) above add the words "and agree a sum of £727,600 as an additional contribution to the provision of affordable housing".

"Progress" will need to be reported back to the July Council.
Any decision to progress with a development will need Cabinet approval. (and would be subject to call in to Scrutiny, and in the case of disagreement to full Council)
TDC Officers should be working to a brief to meet the 5th Dec 2002 concept.

Like you, I can not get a clarification of how TDC Officers and the Current Administration are viewing the situation. They could, I suppose, bring some amended plan back to July Council. It would be difficult to argue both that it meets the Dec 2002 plans and is suficiently similar to the Jan 2004 plans not to require a new planning permission.

I have a copy of the Dec 2002 proposal should you wish to see them.

Once I get further clarification, I will pass any information on.


Cllr David Green

"I am trying to find out the situation with relation to the old Pleasurama
site after the council decision not to sell the land to SFP for the development
that would have extended above the cliff top.

Am I right in assuming that "a satisfactory development about, which meets
the original concept accepted by Council on 5th December 2002" means that
planning permission will have to be sought again.

Or has planning permission granted for the 5th December 2002 concept. If it
has are the plans available for inspection.

Thank you in advance for your kind help in this matter."