Monday, 1 September 2014

New Pleasurama proposal put to Cabinet

A proposal that would see delivery of the Royal Sands development on the former Pleasurama site on Ramsgate seafront wholly taken over by East Kent based Cardy Construction Limited will be considered by Thanet District Council’s cabinet at its meeting next Thursday (September 11).

The council served a breach notice on current developers SFP Ventures (UK) Limited earlier this year as the necessary first step towards terminating the existing agreement, which envisages construction of a hotel, residential and commercial units.
The breach notice triggered a mediation process, as part of which SFP’s owners have now indicated their willingness in principle to enter into an agreement for Cardy’s to acquire the company and with it the existing contract with the council.

If cabinet agrees next Thursday, officers will seek to negotiate a new agreement with Cardy’s that will allow the development to proceed on new terms that will provide for the council to recover the site if the scheme is not delivered to an agreed timetable.

The scheme would be built in accordance with the existing planning consent and the new deal would also entail the council receiving payments due under the current agreement, which dates back to 2006 with variations passed by full council in 2009.

It is anticipated that the new agreement would be brought back before cabinet for approval in October, allowing an early resumption of work on site.

The scheme is a key regeneration project for Ramsgate and is expected to employ up to 200 people while under development. Once completed it will provide further jobs in the hotel trade, commercial units and in the servicing of the residential common parts.

The current owners of SFP have said that they have been unable to secure the necessary funds to complete the scheme under the existing development agreement, but as an established building company Cardy’s are in a stronger financial position to take matters forward. The council would nevertheless require evidence of funding before entering into any deal.

Cabinet member for financial services and estates Cllr Rick Everitt said: “The offer appears to provide a way to resolve the current impasse, against the alternative of a lengthy and messy legal dispute that could leave the site in its current state for a number more years.
“We are, of course, aware that some residents believe the council should simply seize the site because of the lack of progress. However, there is no lawful basis for the council to do so now and we have been advised that the only feasible route to regaining it eventually is likely to be lengthy, risky and expensive for residents, at the end of which it is probable another scheme of similar nature would be brought forward.
"In my view, Ramsgate cannot wait any longer. Therefore we must consider carefully this opportunity to resolve the situation, including the expert legal advice we are receiving. In any event, there is nothing the council can do to intervene if SFP is able to comply with its existing obligations and under this proposal SFP will become part of Cardy’s.”

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