The international consultants offering to carry out an appraisal of how a marina village could be created at Ramsgate Port and harbour have been named as Marine Development Limited.
Thanet council leader Bob Bayford revealed the firm’s identity, despite an apparent confidentiality agreement, at an authority meeting last night (September 6).
The firm has been in talks with county councillor Paul Messenger and the Ramsgate Action Group (RAG), and has also met with Cllr Bayford and Thanet council officers Madeline Homer and Gavin Waite offering to produce a feasibility study to create a marina development.
The study would look at options for operational integration of the Royal Harbour and Marina Village, accommodating larger yachts, creating a berth for small cruise ships, the possible repositioning of the Royal Harbour based fishing fleet; wind farm support vessels; pilot services and associated support services. Also included is a suggestion for the creation of a hotel and conference centre surrounded by retail outlets, artisan workshops and markets.
In its brief MDL also says it could examine ideas for a yacht support service centre possibly incorporating a Marine Academy and maximising public spaces to give easy access to visitors and residents.
It would also produce a 10-year cash flow projection detailing income, operating costs investment capital to implement recommended changes and significant capital replacement costs to sustain the current (and future proposed) site infrastructure.
Cllrs Bayford and Messenger and TDC officers met with MDL on June 4 at Ocean Village in Southampton – which is one of the marina projects the firm has carried out.
The £70 million re-development of Ocean Village included 135 luxury apartments, a Business Innovations Centre and waterside hotel.
An award winning 776 space multi-level car park was completed in 2007, as the first phase of the development to cater for existing car parking requirements displaced by the development activities.
The firm’s work on Chatham Maritime Marina, a 412-berth marina at the heart of a multi-million-pound leisure and retail development, has resulted in revenue of £1.4m through its berthing and boatyard business, over half of which is circulated back into the local economy.
MDL says: “With this economic activity, Chatham Maritime Marina alone contributes approximately £620,000 in GVA to the national economy. Chatham Maritime Marina also provides further added value by indirectly supporting 7 jobs and a further £370,000 of economic activity along the local marine and tourism supply chain.
“The expenditures of Chatham’s berth holders form a significant part of this wider economic activity, either through leisure spending or services for their craft. The economic impact research conducted by British Marine and ICF GHK also showed a further £113k of annual spend into the local economy from the 3,500 visiting yachtsmen. Whilst exact investment values are not available, it is estimated that a further £300m has been invested in the creation of the residential and leisure facilities now present at the marina.”
It is understood there has been no further approach to MDL by Thanet council since the meeting in June.
Cllr Bayford said at last night’s meeting that the authority was looking to see what else was on offer.
He said: “We already know what MDL can offer. We are also speaking to other companies in the field who will be visiting Ramsgate in the near future. After the visits we will go through a thorough procurement process.”
It is understood Cllr Messenger has offered to fund the £30,000 fee for the MDL report from his county council grant, which would negate the need for a procurement process on that particular study.
Cllr Bayford also told the meeting that ‘stemming losses at the port’ and generating an income was a priority.
Ramsgate Port has made losses of some £20 million over eight years, excluding costs of £5million in live export compensation and £3.4million for bankrupt TransEuropa Ferries unpaid fees and charges.
Cllr Bayford said: “A detailed review is underway looking at a break down of costs and income.” It was not revealed who would be carrying out the review or over what timescale.
Thanet council is currently in talks with Seaborne, the company which has put forward proposals for an Ostend/Ramsgate ferry route. Although an agreement has not yet been signed, the leader has previously said a deal is close.
Cllr Bayford told councillors last night: “It is not an either-or situation. We could have an improved marina, successful ferry operation and potentially other leisure, retail and residential offerings.”
RAG says the proposal is “a professional and an impressive document,” that has apparently been ‘rejected’ by Thanet council.
Cllr Messenger has previously shared a video on social media created by himself and resident Sean Gaffney to promote interest in a marina village option.
He said: “Over the last year we have had a series of meetings with this company trying to push forward their interest but TDC will not ( for reasons not explained to me) pursue this opportunity.
“Senior KCC Management, both political and officer, were/are in full support – but TDC wouldn’t even talk to me let alone look at the idea, until January 2018.
“March 1 came along and I was pleased that a new Conservative led admin might add some impetus to this concept but to date the leadership seems to only follow senior TDC officer wishes.
“The feasibility study from this top blue chip company has been offered to TDC since June 2018 but as of today no joy, and no prospect of it even being considered.”