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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
“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: https://www.thanet.gov.uk/info-pages/feasibility-study/