The demolition... oops, sorry, 'conservation' of our listed Marina Restaurant here in Ramsgate has caused a right royal rumpus. Now it transpires that our council's own Heritage Development Advisor has written to English Heritage asking for their support, and inviting them to make a site visit in the 'near future'.
The council officer's email, which has been leaked to me by one of my, um, deep throats, is clearly the source of Councillor Green's Post earlier today, but I make no apology for reprinting it in full here. Well, fuller actually, as there were a couple of important bits he missed out.
Dear Alan (Alan Byrne, English Heritage),
Your assistance is required. No 1 Granville Marina is part of JT Wimperis' 1877 development of a beach resort for Edward Pugin's Granville Hotel. As originally devised, the development consisted of shops, houses, shell grottos, tea rooms and a 'wintergardens'. No 1 was built as a photographer's studio. Numbers 1-4 were listed Grade II on 21/12/2004.
Last year Thanet Council became increasingly concerned about the condition of the building. Its last used was as a restaurant, a use that ended some years ago. It was, however, still owned by the catering company who - despite several offers - refused to sell it. A change in the management of the company saw it being sold to a firm of Ramsgate developers in the middle of last year.
I had a meeting with the new owners in August last year at which it was clear that it was their desire to demolish and redevelop. It was pointed out to them that this not an option since the building was listed. Being concerned that they were not going to take any action, we served an Urgent Works Notice on the owners on 15th August 2007 - with a compliance period of three weeks. The Notice required the sea facing elevation to be shored up and the structure made secure and watertight.
The developers appointed a structural engineer who designed shoring for the defective elevation. As the autumn progressed it became clear that the developers were not going to carry out the works and it transpired that they had dispensed with the services of the structural engineer. We therefore engaged the same engineer, had the structural works priced and appointed contractors to carry out works in default. The contractors started work on 28/1/2008.
On the morning they started the owners turned up saying they were sorry and that they would carry out the works immediately. We withdrew our contractors. On Thursday 31st January there was a considerable south-westerly gale and a considerable crack opened up in the south west corner - the left hand side of the sea facing elevation. By Friday morning it was clear that the sea elevation was becoming too 'live' to prop anymore and would have to be demolished. Our structural engineer was in attendance - together with our Building Control section. Once the front was down it became clear that the lateral walls were being forced apart by the roof and two thirds of the building ended up being demolished - see attached photographs.
The remaining third is, at the time of writing, being stabilised using a Notice under the Building Acts. Any loose historic material from the demolished parts is to be collected and put in to storage. It is the Authority's intention to serve a Section 48 Repairs Notice requiring the owner to re-instate, on a like for like basis, the demolished parts. I am of the opinion that the Ramsgate THI scheme could underwrite a compulsory purchase notice. English Heritage's support in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Would it be possible for you to make a site visit in the near future?
Nick Dermott BA (Hons) Dip Arch RIBA IHBC
Heritage Development Advisor
Major Developments Team
Thanet District Council
PO Box 9
Kent CT9 1XZ
Does anyone remember the demolition of the famous Firestone factory in London 30 years ago? I think I'm getting déja vu!