Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ramasgate's Pleasurama Disasterama

It’s over a decade since plans to build 107 flats and a 60 bedroom hotel on the former Pleasurama site were approved by Thanet Council. Apart from the construction of some foundations, which have probably been damaged beyond repair by 5 years of exposure to the elements, and the investment of a least £2million of tax payer’s money into cliff face repairs, nothing much has happened in this time. Even Cardy’s takeover of the project from failed developer SFP Ventures seems to have been a false dawn, with the recent cliff face repair shenanigans leading to yet further delays in building work beginning. Surely the questions must now be asked will construction work ever begin on site and will the project ever be completed? I think not and here’s why.

First it’s likely that there might be issues about the stability of the cliff face. As I have already mentioned at least £2million of public money has been spent in the last 5 years repairing and painting the cliff face. The latest efforts appear to have hit snags which have led to over-running of the repair contract and the decision to delay work until next spring. I don’t believe that this delay is, as Thanet Council would have us believe, simply because bad weather prevented the application of the final coat of paint. I think there is something a lot more serious going on. Ramsgate bookseller, Michael Child, has blogged extensively about the Pleasurama cliff face here is a link to his latest thoughts on this matter.
Michael has a number of concerns about the stability of the cliff face and the lack of foundations for the facing. He makes the extremely important point that the proposed flats will be built within 4-5 metres of the cliff face and asks how it will be physically possible to repair and maintain the cliff face with such a narrow gap to operate and work within. He also asks whether mortgage lenders and insurance companies would fund the purchase and cover insurance costs of buildings which are built extremely close to a cliff face which has previously collapsed and may possibly have stability problems.

The other issue is, of course, the risk of flooding. The Pleasurama development is to be built on a site which is designated by the Environment Agency as a high risk flood zone. But because planning was secured 10 years ago there was no requirement for a flood risk assessment to be carried out on the development plans. Was new planning permission to be applied for on this site then a flood risk assessment would have to be obtained and its findings taken account before the plans could be approved. It should also be borne in mind that the flood risk analysis of the site dates back to 2009 and that in the 6 years which has elapsed since this analysis, climate change experts have upwardly reviewed their forecasts for temperature changes, sea level rises and extreme weather incidents. In fact just this week climate change experts and politicians from around the world have been meeting in Paris to discuss the growing danger of melting ice caps and rising sea levels. From what I can gather (although I’m no expert), sea levels will continue to rise and extreme weather incidents increase over the next few decades making it much more likely that the Pleasurama site will be flooded, which again raises the question of whether  mortgage lenders and insurance companies will wish to fund the purchase and cover damage to flats built on this site.

Last but not least is the most important question of all – would anyone wish to buy one of the 107 flats planned for the site?  Had Thanet District Council, on instructions from its then  Labour leadership,  not served a High Court Injunction on me (and the Thanet Gazette)  12 months ago  I would  have been able to publish  a very detailed independent  report on this matter which might (or might not)  have shed some light  on this critically important question. However not wanting  to risk a large fine or having to spend Xmas in prison,  I will make no further reference to this report except to say it is a highly professional document which makes extremely interesting reading .  But in any case, events have now overtaken the injuncted report and probably made its contents redundant because an answer about the potential saleability of the Pleasurama flats lies not in my locked  filing cabinet, but just half a mile down the road from the development site at Marina Esplanade. This is the location of the mini-Pleasurama-style seafront development, Beach Retreat, with 7 flats on the market for about £425,000 each. The development has been complete for over a year now and according to my research on the Land Registry website none of the flats appear to have been sold.  So the question must be asked if 7 already completed, high spec, seafront flats have failed to sell in 12 months,  what’s the prospect of 107 nearby flats of a similar price range and specification selling?  Bearing in mind  what £450,000 could buy you elsewhere in Ramsgate and taking account of the issues about  the cliff face and the  flood risk, I personally believe that that there will not be many takers for these flats. Spending somewhere in the region of  £15 million building 107 flats which nobody wants to buy is probably a gamble too far  for even the most experienced property developer. My guess is that Cardy is now becoming  anxious about Pleasurama becoming a financial Disasterama for them. Unless of course they have (S)ecret (F)unding (P)roviders supporting them in this ill-starred  Venture - perhaps assisted by a Swiss based financial institution owned by a former Sunday Times rich list member?

Interestingly the Thanet Gazette reported just last week that the exchange of contracts between Cardry and TDC relating to the transfer of the Pleasurama freehold has not been completed yet. Presumably this means that the Council has not yet received the widely reported £3million for the sale of the land from Cardy?  Perhaps the   delay in the exchange of contracts, the delay in payment for the freehold of the site and the delay in finishing the repairs to the cliff face may all somehow be linked.  In fact some people might argue that these delays will provide a convenient opportunity for TDC and Cardy to negotiate and agree a way out of what looks like a very difficult situation.  In the same way that Margate’s Dreamland is also trying to extract itself from the brown stuff with its creditors.

Although I normally like to wish all my reader’s season’s greetings and a happy and prosperous New Year I somehow think 2016 might well become  a Nightmare for Dreamland, a Disasterama for Pleasurama,  and SNAFU for TDC.


  1. Changes in the Autumn statement mean that on a £450K property buy to let owners will have to pay £36K in stamp duty, up from £22.5k and not be able to claim all of their mortgate interest as tax relief so those flat will cost nearly £500K to buy.

    1. Tdc are running the election incorrectly aren't they as only 6 working days not the required 19 have been allowed for candidates to register? Very dodgy to breach electoral law and reduce the number of candidates?

  2. Bayford and Painter must be able to explain this and other strange property deals..?

  3. A disaster indeed as with Dreamland Tdc planning are expensive incimpetents and need the sack

  4. Tdc planning dept should be sacked. We need a clear out

  5. Bayford and Painter must know more about this development and the mystery Caribbean tax haven company?

  6. Your TDC Court order is appalling Ian - why have the councillors not instructed Homer to drop it?

  7. Homer is not running tdc any better than macgonigal. She should detail improvement or go

  8. Yes UKIP aren't doing anything different or better to improve TDC...