A protest installation has appeared at the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate after the hoardings came down in yesterday’s (March 10) high winds.
The message ‘They don’t care, TDC, Pleasurama Pants’ has appeared inside the site with ‘bunting’ made of people’s knickers hung from the pilings.
A message from the ‘Action Pants’ art-bombers to The Isle of Thanet News says: ” We hope they don’t DNA test the knickers or find any name tags sewn into the back. It may show a number of Doras, an Edith and possibly even a Hilda.”
It isn’t the first arty protest to be staged over the dereliction of the site, which is no longer owned by Thanet council. Last Summer an ‘escapee’ concrete piling -aka Ramsgate artist Gary Perkins – was spotted at the town carnival.
The site has been unused since a blaze on the evening of May 25 -going into May 26-1998, which devastated everything, including the amusement arcade, cafe/restaurant; bingo hall and associated offices.
A deal for the site was made between Thanet council and development company SFP Venture, a firm registered in the British Virgin Isles, with representation from estate agent Terence Painter. The company submitted a planning application in November 2003.
In January 2004 planning permission was granted for a 60-bed hotel, 107 residential apartments, leisure facilities and retail but despite the ongoing saga of changing companies and contract buy-outs work is yet to start in earnest.
In 2006 SFP Ventures (UK) was incorporated with one £1 share.
As part of its original agreement with Thanet council, SFP Ventures were to hand over a £550,000 deposit and a performance bond of £5.6million.
But in 2009 a new deal amended this to a £1 million deposit and £550,000 for the three leases.
In April 2013, Thanet council rejected a bid for SFP to buy the freehold of the site before project completion.
SFP said it was unable to secure the necessary funds to complete the scheme under the existing development agreement.
In February 2014 cabinet members agreed to axe the development agreement with SFP, but were unable to reclaim the three 199-year leases for the site because they had no long stop date in the deal.
Talks with Cardy Construction to take over the project by buying out SFP were revealed in September 2014. A due diligence process was conducted into Cardy Construction Limited the same year. Cardy had to prove it had the funds for the scheme via credit checks, company and company personnel checks;
There were also checks on three year audited accounts and evidence was required to show that Cardy Ramsgate Limited purchased 100% shares of SFP Ventures.
Contracts, which TDC say included a long-stop date, were signed with Cardy Ramsgate Ltd – an independent company created for the scheme – in March 2015.
Cardy Ramsgate Ltd completed a £3.515 million payment to Thanet council for the site freehold in July 2016. Land Registry records the sum as £3 million. Cardy Construction went into administration the same month.
Michael Stannard, then the sole director of Cardy Ramsgate Ltd, resigned his role on August 15, 2016.
Mr Stannard had pledged to complete the project by 2017 but his resignation passed the scheme to Anthony Hollis who was appointed as director on August 12, 2016.
The firm was renamed Ramsgate Development Company Ltd.
Mr Hollis is a director of Aldress Developments SE Ltd, formerly SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd until a change of name last year.
Shaun Keegan, one of the founder directors of SFP Ventures with Mr Hollis, resigned his directorship in 2014.
Documents on Companies House revealed two people with ‘significant control’ of the Ramsgate Development Company as Colin and Robbie Hill. Both are listed with an address in Geneva.
They are involved with the Panama-based Mintal Group, which has a £3million charge on the seafront site.
Robbie Hill was then removed from having significant control while Colin Hill remains listed.
Colin Hill, the son-in-law of Mr Keegan, was also a financier for the previous developers, SFP Ventures. He appears on the 2018 Times Rich List at 397th place with a personal fortune in excess of £200 million.
A financial statement up to March 2017 for Ramsgate Development Company Ltd, showed the amount owed to creditors (director’s loan) stood at £9.24 million.
Last Summer part of the site was cleared for a temporary funfair arranged via businessman Jeremy Godden. A temporary change of use planning application was submitted to Thanet council by Blueberry Homes. Land Registry still lists the site owner as Cardy Ramsgate – now called Ramsgate Development Company – with the lender as offshore Mintal Group.
The latest contract with Thanet council stated the project must be completed within three-and-a-half years, which would imply a date of January 2020 if taken from contract completion. If it is not developed then the council has an option to buy it back.
It is not clear what sum TDC would need to pay, the £3.5 million the freehold was sold for or the market value of the land which, if developed, could potentially exceed £30-40 million.
The cliff wall adjacent to the building site remains in the ownership of the council, which is responsible for inspections and its maintenance.