Rumours are rife that a last minute deal is in offing to save the Ramsgate Pleausrama Development. Allegedly, the building firm Cardy, who are currently contractors to project developers SFP Ventures UK Ltd, may be in the process of buying out SFP and taking over the development themselves. Although this is just a rumour I understand that a confidential report to be discussed at tonight’s Cabinet meeting largely substantiates what I have been hearing. Also Cardy have recently commenced works on the Pleasurama site constructing what appears to be a road from one side of the plot to another, presumably to allow plant and equipment to be moved around easier. I doubt they would be investing time and money on this work unless there was a purpose.
Assuming the rumour is true, one wonders who is backing Cardy to buy out SFP and complete this £25 million project. If, unlike 2009, Thanet Council does a half-decent job of due-diligence, or better still commissions independent experts to carry out due diligence, I would not be surprised if the backers are not closely related to SFP Director Sean Patrick Keegan or his son in law and successful multi-millionaire property speculator, Colin Hill, his banking interests and his mysterious Lichtenstein based Wetmore Foundation. But there again this is only speculation.
Whoever takes over SFP and whatever their source of funding, several things do concern me. First there is considerable uncertainty about the stability of the cliff face which will be about 4 metres from the development. Questions have been asked about whether there is enough space between the development and the cliff face to allow for maintenance and repair works to take place. If there is a major fall will residents of the apartments and hotel be safe? It has also been argued that the money received by the Council from the developers (£3million or so), will never be of benefit to local people as it will all be used up in the cost of repairing and maintaining the cliff face on the Pleasurama site.
Next, I am seriously worried about the fact that the Pleasurama development is being built
on high risk flood zone without any flood risk assessment. Although planning permission was granted at a time when flood risk assessments were not required, the Environment Agency wrote to the Council expressing its concerns about the safety of any people who lived in the apartments and the hotel because of the flooding risk. We have all seen the storms and high seas this winter. This was not a one off. On the contrary we are being warned that climate change will make these events commonplace. This will put Pleasurama and its occupiers at an even greater risk of being flooded. In my opinion Thanet Council should not knowingly allow developments to proceed where it is likely that the occupiers will be placed at risk of injury or worse. This is morally indefensible and may even expose the Council to legal action for which taxpayers will have to pick up the bill.
Which leads me on to my next point who will be stupid enough to insure apartments, businesses and a hotel built in an area at risk of cliff falls and flooding? There is a likelihood that the Pleasurama development might become uninsurable or too expensive to insure. I am sure those people tasked with selling Pleaurama properties, or their lawyers, will truthfully and honestly advise their clients about these issues, which of course they are legally and proefessionally required to do. This is likely to put off buyers and we might be left with an expensive white elephant. Last but not least, most of the people I have spoken to over the past 2 years when I first began to campaign against this this development, simply do not want apartments and hotel built on this prime seafront location. Virtually everyone with an opinion has said to me that the site should be used for community leisure facilities, which makes even more sense now that the nearby Ramsgate Tunnels will be opening.
For the record, Thanet Council does not have to deal with a new developer. It does not have to extend the development deadline. Thanet Council has obtained detailed legal advice, which I have seen, which states that the Council has a very strong case to rid itself of SFP and get back the site. I say to Thanet Council and its Labour leadership end the development now! Reclaim the site and begin a consultation with residents about what they want to see instead. No secret last minute deals behind the backs of Ramsgate people!