Friday, 1 February 2013

East Kent Expansion Fund, Royal Sands Ramsgate letter.

Dear Sir/ Madam
SFP Ventures UK Ltd and Cardy Construction Ltd application to East Kent Expansion Fund to support Royal Sands Development
I understand that SFP Ventures UK Ltd and Cardy Construction Ltd have applied to the East Kent Expansion Fund to support their work on the Royal Sands Development in Ramsgate.
I am a Ramsgate Councillor and Chairman of Thanet District Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Panel  and I would like to object in the strongest terms to public money being used to support this project.
SFP Ventures UK Ltd have been the developer of the Royal Sands project at Ramsgate for over 10 years. In that time the company has made very little progress in delivering the flats and luxury hotel which they promised. Instead a prime piece of Ramsgate seafront has been blighted by a major eyesore for a decade.
I have spent considerable time researching SFP Ventures UK Ltd claim that they have substantial previous experience of managing similar multi-£million projects in the UK and overseas. I have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate this claim.
In my opinion SFP Ventures have never developed similar projects before and it would be a very high risk to loan public money to an organisation with no proven track record in its claimed area of expertise.
Most importantly,  I am very concerned about the potential risk to the health and safety of the people who will live and work at  the Royal Sands development should the project, in its current form, ever be completed.
In 2008 the Government’s  Environment Agency wrote to Thanet District Council warning that the development was located in a high risk flood zone and that the safety of the development occupants could be put at risk because,  for technical reasons, the development had not been subject to flood risk assessment.
I attach a copy of Environment Agency’s   letter for your information.
I believe that it would be wholly inappropriate to invest considerable amounts of public money into a project which could potentially put people’s lives at risk.
Finally, I am  concerned  that the condition of the cliff face, which will be only 4 metres from the completed development,  is such that it will require considerable investment to ensure that there are no collapses which might endanger the safety of residents or users of the development. The cost of maintaining the cliff face to avoid this possibility will be borne by the council tax payers of Thanet and could amount to several  £millions over the life of the of the development.
I believe that it would be wholly inappropriate to invest considerable amounts of public money into a project which is likely to become a major drain upon the council tax payers of Thanet.
Because the Royal Sands development is generating considerable public interest in Ramsgate I feel obliged to make this letter public.
I sincerely hope that in arriving at your decision about whether to fund this project,  you will take into account my comments.
Yours sincerely
Councillor Ian Driver
Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel


  1. If SFP have no money to build, surely they Will equally not have the funds to fight a legal battle.

    Tear it up, whatever was agreed and signed, and find someone else.

  2. We can only hope that East Kent Expansion Fund do their own proper due diligence and employ professionals rather than rely on idiots that know nothing about the subject (Poole and McGonigal). Keep up the good work Ian. You are the only voice of opposition. This is damning of the current conservatives and questions if any of them have a clue what they are doing. Or perhaps they do and need to keep quiet!!!

  3. Well said Ian - the biggest Labour donation ever was around this time. And all the parties kept quiet and voted for ChinaGate, EKO and Pleasurama. The rot is deep. When will Mcgonigal reply? This is gross misconduct: instant dismissal - no payoff, no pension.

    1. Do you ever stop being such a boring barsteward, 19:34? You must be a real pleasure to live with, that is if you have not sacked or arrested everybody.

  4. I just cannot see where peoples lives are going to be put at risk from flooding. Also if the area is such a high risk putting people in danger surely other properties like the Custom House and Belgium Bar must carry the same risk as they are built on the same level. Then where is the threat going to come from ? the only risk would be a tidal surge like in the 1953. But that is so remote because the Goodwins will break anything coming up the channel and so would Pegwell Bay. I suppose there is a remote flood risk from exceptionally high tides but considering that the time factor from low tide to high tide is 6 hours 35 minutes that gives plenty of time for a reaction like in 1978 when the east pier took a battering.

    1. Thinking about it, since 1978 the promenade has been upgraded and raised reducing the risk even greater.

    2. Tony I think the key to all of this is that the EA have said in writing; “we would highly recommend that a full FRA is undertaken which could inform appropriate resilience and resistance measures.” While obviously there are a lot of old buildings at risk of flooding, with new builds on high risk flood zones flood risk assessments are mandatory.

      Due to a planning loophole The Royal Sands doesn’t actually have to have a flood risk assessment and so far the developer has decided not to get one done anyway. The net result of this is that the development starts out to a greater or lesser degree blighted.

      I would say at the moment no one, you me or the developer knows if there is a likelihood of people’s lives being put at risk. So there are two options here, one is assessing the situation to check if the development will be dangerous, the other is not assessing the situation and building it with no flood risk assessment. Are you really advocating the latter?

      Going down the road of no FRA is also likely to be the road of no development loan and therefore a deserted building site until 2017 when the existing agreements expire, unless of course if you can think of a reputable financial institution that would lend money for a new build on a high risk flood zone with no FRA, if you can then you have resolved the problem, perhaps KCC.

      On specific points, the Custom House and Belgium Bar are protected by Ramsgate Harbour being between them and the sea, the new promenade is not any higher than the old one and is a lose structure sitting on sand which doesn’t form any increased sea defence.

      I guess as an historian you will be aware of the damage to the site during previous storms, the 1897 one demolished most of the buildings behind the main sands, the 1953 one caused a 12 ton crane that had been working on the beach to be thrown over the promenade and into the middle of the site and the 1978 one stove the front doors in and flooded the lower arcade.

      The longest fetch i.e. the distance over the sea that would produce the greatest wave height a little north of east, doesn’t have the Goodwins in the way.


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