A feasibility study looking at options for the future of Ramsgate port and harbour is due for publication in early February.
Consultant WSP is set to submit its final report to Thanet District Council at the end of this month. Once it has been shared with elected members at the cross-party Port and Harbour Working Party, the council will put the document into the public domain.
WSP was tasked with looking at ideas including a hotel and conference centre, berthing for small cruise ships, waterfront homes and the possibility of a maritime village
Possible uses to generate income include commercial, which would consider extending current industrial uses of the port – such as Brett aggregates; making more use of the sea and renewable energy facilities already used by London Array; introducing advanced manufacturing and offices. More artist studios and workshops and specific marine related retail such as yacht chandlery will also be examined.
A residential plan will look at waterfront homes, and leisure uses such as space for larger yachts than can presently be accommodated in Ramsgate, hotel and conference facilities, berthing for small cruise ships and shops.
Ideas for a maritime village development will look at mixed use development with waterfront homes, shops, restaurants and cafes and commercial units.
The study follows the decision by TDC last year to ditch £500,000 funding to keep Ramsgate port in readiness for a ferry operation following the Seaborne debacle and axe a further £130,000, totalling £630,000 (or £730,000 in a full year) from port spending.
The study aims to find ways to stop the haemorrhaging of cash from the port side of operations.
Ramsgate Port has racked up total losses of £22 million since 2010. The amount includes £3.4million in unpaid berthing fees from bankrupt TransEuropa Ferries and £1.4 million of compensation paid to live animal exporters following a High Court order. However, the total paid in compensation rose to around £5million.
Council leader and Cabinet Member for the Port and Harbour, Cllr Rick Everitt said: “The study will identify a range of possible options and we will then engage with stakeholders to inform a decision about which ones to take forward for further work. I anticipate this engagement will run for about three months.
“The public will be able to see all the options considered by WSP and their evaluation of them in the report, even if an option is not recommended by them for further work.
“Any masterplan for the port and harbour that emerges from subsequent work would be the subject of further public engagement before adoption by the council.
“We all want to see a successful future for the port and harbour, and the views of residents and other stakeholders are vital to that. Equally, all approaches need to be subject to rigorous professional evaluation, which WSP are helping to provide.
“We are committed to moving matters forward and I’m looking forward to sharing the feasibility study with the community next month as a first step.”