Letter to Dr. Ladyman
Secondhand and antiquarian booksellers
72 King Street
Partners Michael & Anna Child Telephone (01843) 589500
Dear Dr. Ladyman 8/11/04
The following are the main points that no member of TDC can answer satisfactorily.
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. It is possible for a financial share in the project to change hands between to individuals at any time with out the knowledge of any other party including the Inland Revenue.
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 (this is the main beach car park).
Point 3 The height above the cliff top and the degree by which the views are reduced has never been accurately measured, no document has been produced to show lines of site or the remaining views.
I hope that you will be able to find the answers for me and that the following notes will be useful.
The current situation with the building on the old Pleasurama site behind Ramsgate main sands is complicated, different people within TDC have different opinions as to how things stand, this summary is my understanding of the situation.
SFP Venture Partners wish to build a large development on the site purchasing the freehold of the land from TDC.
The development consists of 107 flats a 60 bedroom hotel and a ground floor of A1 and A3 retail use (shops and restaurants).
Because of inconsistencies between the planning and design statement and the plans i.e. the building has been increased in size since the planning and design statement was originally written (it now covers the main sands car park as well as the Pleasurama site and appears to have increased in height) the description from the planning and design statement may be inaccurate.
Thanet District Council acting as a planning authority have passed the plans for the SPF development. However at a subsequent full council meeting the councillors voted not to sell the site because of the height of the building and other factors that their constituents had drawn to their attention.
Most recently because of various reports by council officers it has been decided that the council cabinet can legally sell the site for the SPF development without the approval of a full council meeting.
This means that many of the people who had been assured by council officers that they would be notified before any final decision was made about the development will now no longer be.
The plans submitted by the developer and subsequently passed by TDC planning department consist of a planning and design statement, travel assessment, site plans, architects drawings and photographs.
Various people and organisations have tried to stop it being built for the following reasons.
1 The way the building would affect the views between Wellington Crescent and the cliff top above and the sands and Royal Harbour below. Although the planning and design statement for the development, on page 9 says the following.
"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."
My own calculations based on the site survey and plans submitted by the developer make the maximum height of the building 3.4 meters above the footpath surface on the cliff top. It is difficult to completely accurate due to the radical changes that will have to be made at ground level, because of the size of the building changing the road and promenade layout so this may be inaccurate by a meter or so in either direction.
My calculations relating to the lines of site suggest that it will no longer be possible to see the shoreline when looking from the cliff top over the lowest part of the development or the cliff top from the shoreline.
The planning department reckon not more than three meters above the cliff top based on holding a scale ruler next to the side elevation.
No calculations appear to have been attempted by the planning department with relation to the lines of site.
2 The architectural style of the building and the failure to use traditional construction materials. While the surrounding buildings are Georgian Regency and Victorian constructed mostly of brick with timber windows and slate roofs, the new building is 1920s or 1930s style constructed concrete with PVC windows and a raised zinc roof separated with areas of artificial grass.
3 The use of the ground floor, many people had hoped that the sale of accommodation above would produce sufficient funds to finance proper beach leisure facilities for Ramsgate. There are also concerns that there may be difficulties over parking facilities making it hard for the shops and restaurants to survive financially. (The building is built over the main car park in the area the A1 -A3 retail complex that would seem to be the size of a large supermarket shares 10 parking spaces with visitors to the hotel and appears to have no disabled parking facilities).
4 The developer, many people have raised concerns because the identity of the developer is secret. With a development of this size, expectations of the final sale value are in excess of £60 million, people have tried to check the track record SFP Venture Partners mainly to check that they are financially, ecologically and morally sound. Concerns have been raised that those people within TDC involved in decisions relating to the project should not be shareholders in SFP. Unfortunately SFP Ventures Partners Ltd is a British Virgin Islands company and therefore not accountable to the authorities in any way whatsoever. Should you be unfamiliar with BVI companies you may find the following notes helpful.
A BVI company can be used for holding land and buildings for the purpose of development and or generating rental income or realising capital gains. Strategies can be employed in order to minimise or eliminate taxes in the country where the property is located.
No public record is kept of the identity of shareholders or directors
The books and records of the company may be maintained anywhere
No accounts or annual summaries have to be filed with the Government
No taxes on dividends, interest, royalties, capital gains, inheritance, gifts or any other income derived outside the BVI;
No requirement to file annual return s or financial statements;
No requirement to hold annual general meetings of shareholders or directors;
Full exemption from taxation on any business activity or transaction carried on outside the BVI;
Complete business privacy and confidentiality;
Minimal capital requirements and minimal registration fee on capital;
Nominative or Bearer shares at owner's option;
Companies are allowed to have sole director;
The shareholders, directors and officers may be of any nationality and may be resident of any country;
Neither the director nor the officers need be shareholders;
Directors and/or officers can be either corporate entities or natural persons;
There is no requirement to register initial, or ongoing, changes in director(s) and/or officer(s);
A company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands has the same powers as a natural person;
No disclosure of the beneficial owners is required
No Company Secretary is required
No local Director is required
Directors and Shareholders meetings may take place anywhere (even via telephone)"