Study on future of Ramsgate port and harbour includes hotel, housing, industrial and reduced ‘ro-ro’ proposals

Ramsgate Port

A report examining possible future uses for Ramsgate port and harbour has suggested uses including reviving the hotel and conference centre plan for the Smack Boys Home building and creating industrial zones, waterfront homes, retail and themed leisure facilities.

The study was carried out by consultant WSP who were 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

The report says: “The council’s Masterplanning Exercise should focus on a mixed-use development in order to derive the maximum possible benefits from the site. It is likely that this will include a complementary combination of options from commercial, residential, and leisure sectors.”

The Smack Boys Home and neighbouring Sailors Church was earmarked for a hotel and wedding venue

WSP says plans previously put forward to convert the Smack Boys Building into a hotel and events space “are likely to benefit the ambience of the area and provide a link between industrial/commercial zones and the Royal Harbour, arches retailing, and town centre.”

They also advise retaining commercial port functions so “ro-ro operations can be accommodated on a significantly condensed footprint compared to current operations.” A single berth is suggested.

The report says industrial zones should be prioritised to retain employment land and the scope to deliver a significant jobs boost to the area with a focus on “specialist recycling centres, bespoke design studios, and 3D print facilities.”

Photo by Brian Whitehead

Workshop areas for entrepreneurship opportunities and creative industries is recommended as well making space for specialist maritime purposes, such as vessel design / architecture.

The report adds: “Relationships with incumbent renewables operations and maintenance companies associated with the London Array offshore wind farm should be built upon to expand the service offering of the port. This should include close understanding of future operations and maintenance patterns such as the development of much larger ‘motherships’ embarking on multi-day maintenance excursions replacing the current day-long fast boat trips.”

WSP say a significant Royal Harbour expansion could be delivered by relocating fishing, and renewables operations and maintenance fleets to currently unused areas of the commercial port to create 5-Anchor status and “expand the customer base and marketable potential of the Royal Harbour.”

Ramsgate Port Photo John Horton

The consultants add that residential dwellings are likely to deliver the largest benefits when on a plot overlooking the Royal Harbour.  Ideas for a maritime village development look at mixed use development with waterfront homes -possibly apartments – shops, restaurants and cafes and commercial units.

Themed leisure uses are also suggested such as a theme park, aquarium, or watersports centre on the land currently occupied by the commercial port. The study also says Brett Aggregate operations should remain in place for the duration of the campany’s lease.

A suggested timeline of three and a half years to complete the project is given.

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.

The aim is to stop the haemorrhaging of cash from the port side of operations. Ramsgate Port has racked up total losses of £22 million since 2010.

Council leader and Cabinet Member for the Port and Harbour, Cllr Rick Everitt said:  “Publication of this new feasibility study into the future of Ramsgate’s port and harbour marks the beginning of an exciting opportunity in the town’s regeneration.

“The council hasn’t gone into this exercise with a predetermined view of what the future should look like and the range of options presented by consultants WSP in their report reflects that.

“Our vision is to create something exciting that will help put the town on the map as a thriving place to live, work and visit. Residents know that Ramsgate already has a lot to offer, but making the best use of the port and harbour can only enhance the success of the town’s existing economy.

Port of Ramsgate Photo John Horton

“Over the next three months, we will be sharing this report with residents, stakeholders and other interested parties in order to get their views on the options provided. We will be providing residents with the opportunity to send their comments to us and there will be a series of engagement events in the town to help shape next steps.

“Ramsgate has a strong and proud maritime history and we are committed to pursuing the option that will give us the best platform to celebrate that.”

Nine zones are suggested by WSP. These are listed as:

Zone 1 – Industrial/Commercial Developments
Creating an industrial part of the Ramsgate site would create jobs and opportunities in the area. The options selected have the possibility to bring a diverse range of employment opportunities which can expand to new areas benefitting wider area, both economically and socially.

Zone 2 – Commercial Port Developments
The prioritisation of RoRo as the sole commercial port target user requires the least CAPEX and builds on an already established business. Other cargo types would be reliant on opportunistic trade volumes and require CAPEX for necessary port infrastructure including; alongside quay, mobile cranes, and storage/warehousing. The latter requires further space on the site which will necessarily detract from other suggested options Primary port operations are to increase through added services and investment, this will have some consequence for alternative facilities but will not overwhelm planned residential and industrial activity.

Zone 3 – Renewables O&M / Education Facility Developments
The established renewable O&M section of the port is a consistent and low maintenance source of revenue for the port. While currently operating under a fixed sum agreement, the sector is evolving, thus offering the potential for Thanet District Council work closely with its tenants to capitalise on developments and deliver further value added services to its incumbent customers. It is anticipated that any educational facilities would operate under similar conditions, in a nearby area of the site, potentially co-locating under circumstances which necessitate the
relocation of existing Renewables O&M facilities.

Zone 4 – Residential, Retail & Food & Beverage Developments
Residential developments satisfies the local housing market by increasing supply and contributing to a healthier supply demand balance. As per the councils plans to build 500 homes per year, it is valuable to contribute space and living area on the Ramsgate port site. Creating executive homes can also bring new demand for higher market retailing and marine activities, thus providing stimulus to the local economy.

Zones 5-9 – Marina Developments
The options available for the various zones will provide better utilisation to the port site as well as provide diversification of offerings at Ramsgate that can increase local economic and social benefits

Read the WSP Port of Ramsgate High Level Feasibility Study:


  1. Got to get passed our backwards looking council before anything is done , naussaca in Boulogne wanted to build an aquarium at no cost to Thanet and it was turned down! Met a rep from there who said our council was terrible

  2. 1st call of the council should be in trying to reduce the rent to Crown Estates which @ half a million a year is a drain on council funds

    • It has been run as a port
      Accrued debts have been more than £20M over that time
      Did you not hear Transeuropa took them to the cleaners for £3.4M during their “running” it as a port

  3. “Executive homes” in a working port? Executive as in very expensive? Having looked at details of other harbour developments eg in Southampton I can’t see how local residents would benefit. Council housing-well, social housing with reasonable rents- would be a much better idea. At least these suggestions have some practicality and are not out-and-out tweeness.

  4. If live animal exports are allowed to use the Harbour once it is redeveloped, then I can’t see many “executives” wanting to buy a property there! This vile trade in young calves, lambs, sheep etc, will be enough to put anyone off once they hear the poor animals bleating and crying for their mums, before being transported hundreds of miles in the backs of trucks, to have their throats cut for Halal meat, uuugh!

    • There is a need for smaller local abattoirs in order to minimize the amount of time that animals going to slaughterhouses travel.

      • Marva, just to say, possibly the reason why live animal exports take place is that the UK is not trusted to provide good healthy animal meat, so unless it is seen running around a lot of Europe don’t want it. Cannot see the reason for transporting live animals from the south to Northern regions in the UK, just as stressful for animals as going across the sea. My experiences down in the port when lorries arrived, it was the loud noise of the demonstrators that terrified the animals.

        • If there were abattoirs throughout the UK, there would be no need to transport animals from one region to another for slaughter. I don’t know what, if any,differences in transport conditions there are for animals being moved around for breeding purposes. Nor do I know whether the UK has a good reputation for animal husbandry.

  5. We,ll when duty free returns between us and europe at end of this year , a ferry service to france or belgium may be financially viable again !

  6. It is a Port and should be kept as such. New Buildings, Conference or otherwise require parking facilities. As a local res. I object to paying around £2.50 for an hours parking so will visitors. Luxury appartments along the beach have gone unsold for years, the boarded up site by Weatherspoons should be dealt with before more of these unrealistic ideas are put into print.

    • I’m fed up with all these complaints about parking costs! The damage done to the environment, including the towns, by the mass use of motorcars is enormous. Use the buses, if you’re lucky enough to have a reasonable local service such as the Loop.

      • Marva, not living on a bus route and not being able to walk without pain a vehicle is essential to get around. Supporting the local Ramsgate shops is proving expensive.

        • Of course there will always be people for whom it’s difficult to use. public transport. But the point is, more people should use the existing bus services and should lobby for better, more connected and more frequent buses.

  7. I can’t see anyone wanting to spend time at the Harbour if RSP is given permission to land a giant cargo plane over it ever 10 minutes.

    Not sure I fancy waving at the pilot with a gin and tonic in hand.

    The harbour could, and should, be a Thanet gem.

  8. Wow. what an eye-opener… the comments especially… and I mean that in a positive, ah-i-didnt-know-that way. so thanks to all!

    I was thinking; wouldn’t it be nicer if we could have a boatman* take us from Holland to the PoR. Only 125 miles by sea!

    We live in NL, but love the UK and was enquiring to visit. I decided to search ‘news PoR’ because *we HATE flying (since 2002 long before 2020s climate issues, but yes, that too).

    Our daughter is studying Architecture History alongside the Industrial Revolution and showed me ‘The Grange’ and similar places could be visited (and rented too).

    If there are any UK boatmen that are interested in this idea (4-5 passengers: 2 adults, 1 teen, 1 baby). Plz reply on this site.

  9. If we are to have a first class Marina we need support from marine engineers, chandlers. We need to keep the boat building and fishing industries. We need parking. The Sea Cadets, who I really admire will be thrown out if the Smack Boys Home was to become a ‘hotel’ . Executive housing near the sewage works?? Improve the harbour but in the right way i.e. ask the locals!!!

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