Plans to convert The Royal pub to commercial unit and create new flats to be discussed by councillors

Architect image (before amendments) by Lee Evans Partnership

Plans to change The Royal, on Ramsgate’s harbourfront, from the existing pub by demolishing part of the building and then creating a commercial unit plus a new build with eight apartments are to be discussed by Thanet councillors.

Plans for the site were lodged with Thanet council by Mr Copland in June 2022.

Applicant Jamie Copland wants to demolish part of the existing building and erect a five-storey side extension with recessed balconies, single storey roof extension and roof terrace. He also wants to add a new three-storey building to rear to provide 8 apartments  and rearrange two existing apartments and reduce the scale of the current commercial unit housing The Royal pub.

The application proposes a change of use on the ground floor from the pub to commercial, business and service. The application says the loss of the community facility will be lessened due to 10 other pubs/bars operating in the immediate area.

It also says pubs and bars have been severely affected since the opening of the Royal Victoria Pavilion which attracts the bulk of local trade due to competitive prices. The agent shows a drop in turnover from 2018-2021.

These cite a fall in profits of 15% in 2018 compared to the previous year and continued year on year drops of a further 17% in 2019, 34% in 2020 (covid lockdowns) and 12% in 2021.

Documents from Lee Evans Partnership on behalf of Mr Copland say: “The site offers an opportunity for a bold landmark scheme that will create a statement, enhance the urban fabric and act as a catalyst for further regeneration for its location.

“Whilst the building has some historic relevance, it has been subject to minor changes over the years that it is submitted have negatively impacted its character and appearance, and thus the contribution it makes to this key local setting. It has also begun to appear tired due to lack of investment and upkeep recently.

“A new lease of life would benefit the site and historic frontage here and also encourage long-term occupation and upkeep, both of which are under threat.”

The five storey extension is proposed to the Harbour Parade frontage between the main building of The Royal and the adjoining building; no. 50 Harbour Parade (Royal Sailors Rest; Grade II listed).

Amended image (Lee Evans Partnership)

An amended application has reduced the height and setback from the existing building line established by the listed property.

Despite amendments  Ramsgate Town Council says it continues to object to the scheme, branding it: “bulky, obtrusive, out of character with the conservation area, and not in keeping with the street scene.”

Ramsgate Heritage and Design Forum says it supports the contemporary approach but there are concerns of “overbearing massing to penthouse.”

The building sits within the Ramsgate Conservation Area.

The application has been referred to the Planning Committee by Cllr Tricia Austin, due to concerns of overdevelopment.

Cllr Austin (pictured) said: “I’ve called this application in to the planning committee because I and other Ramsgate councillors have concerns about overdevelopment in this key location.

“We strongly support the creation of more accommodation in the town centre, but believe the proposed roofline is still too high and the design would be obtrusive on our historic seafront, adversely affecting the street scene.

“We would like to see the applicant think again about the number of units and design of the scheme, to harmonise better with the existing listed buildings and surrounding conservation area.”

Councillors are being recommended to defer approval to officers on completion of a developer contribution agreement.

Brownfield development

The Royal in Ramsgate

The case officer says the development would be a modest contribution to the isle’s housing need, on brownfield land, and would provide temporary economic benefits from the construction of the extensions to the building.

They add: “Whilst the application would see the loss of a community facility it is considered that there are a number of other public houses and community facilities in the local area not to undermine the ability of the community to meet its day to day needs.

“The proposed extensions are contemporary in nature and are a contrast to the existing style of the building and it is clear from their appearance that they are additions. The scale of these additions would sit comfortably with the existing building.

“On balance it is considered that the extensions in their reduced form would not compete with the significance of the adjoining listed buildings the Royal Sailors Rest in the Ramsgate Conservation Area, although it is acknowledged that there will be some harm to the setting of the listed building although not substantial.

“The applicant’s agent has submitted a draft unilateral undertaking to seek to secure the mitigation for the impact of additional residential accommodation, which would be required to be completed prior to the grant of permission should Members resolve to approve the application..

“On balance, it is therefore considered that there are notable benefits to the development through the provision of additional housing on a brownfield site within the town centre. Whilst there is harm resulting from the development upon the designated heritage assets including the setting of the conservation area and the adjacent Grade II listed building, this has been minimised through amended design, and these would not outweigh the benefits from the scheme.”

The Royal is being sold by Thorley Taverns but the sale is yet to be completed.

The application will be discussed at a meeting on August 16.


    • Well Mr Chance, its bang underneath the flight path of dirty old cargo planes approaching over Ramsgate Harbour, at less than 300 meters high, should Manston re-open, which should detract from the apartments value a tidy bit!

    • Our seafront and town is becoming nothing but flats , the Royal has been a pub for along long time so should remain a pub , just because it hasn’t worked out for 1 ownwer doesn’t mean it won’t for someone else , so sell up and give someone else the chance, who wants to come visit Ramsgate , let alone live here we’ve got nothing to look at anymore,?

  1. “…have been severely affected since the opening of the Royal Victoria Pavilion …”
    It’s because the Royal is a less than salubrious establishment.

    • Agree. The Royal had its day when it was a nightclub and pretty much the only place in Ramsgate you could get a drink after 11pm. It had a complete monopoly. Queues around the block to get in. Had to pay to get in from what I remember ! As soon as the licensing laws changed, it was doomed.

  2. Not sure where you got the architect from but you need a new one. Best thing would be to build/renovate the building to add value to the look of the waterfront. Not just add a few tins on the side to save on costs.

  3. So – let me get this right, you buy a pub then you find out there are too many pubs in the area, so why buy it?
    Obviously bought as an investment rather than what it is.
    So more luxury seafront apartments for rich Londoners to buy is on the cards? or holiday lets/Airbnb and holiday homes at super inflated prices as Section 21 eviction orders fly around Thanet like confetti and locals get pushed out of town and away from family and friends – Wonderful news (not)
    Lovely view over the harbour if you got the dosh mind 🙂

  4. That design is shocking considering it’s facing the harbour and such a prominent feature of the seafront. Aren’t they the same architects who came up with that monstrosity on Margate seafront too ?

    I would love to see their site management plan if it’s approved. Scaffolding all over the pavement for months on end. Lorries parked up delivering supplies and materials where the buses stop. Where on earth are they going to put the skips for waste ? It will be a nightmare and I’m sure the other traders on that part of the seafront will have something to say.

  5. This is an awful design. No merit at all. I’m not opposed to contemporary designs but they should send a signal into the future that we had taste, as had previous generations up until the barbarians took over in 1945. This is another EF plan begging for a waste basket.

  6. I know there are flats/apartments there already, and have been for many years. (when one of the bars was known as the tartan bar) So, why demolish to build new, just refurbish, and what’s the problem with the fligh path, previous occupants haven’t complained.

    • Paul previous occupants haven’t complained because dirty old cargo 4 engined jet aircraft did not fly over the Harbour 2 an hour, day and night, Duuurh!

      • Does this mean that as there will not be aircraft flying over them the flats/apartments will have extortionate prices/rents, like the others along the front so local people will not be able to afford them. By the way I dont think there are aircraft flying over them 2 times an hour now, or have been for many years, and there is no guarantee Manston will become an airport.

        • Well Paul, the 2 chocolate teapot MP’s for Thanet are pushing for Manston to be re-opened despite the Planning Inspectorate and numerous other expert reports condemning the proposed Development Consent Order! Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised by mostly hundreds of Ramsgate residents who are opposed to the re-opening of Manston to take it to a Judicial Review! The 2 MP’s couldn’t careless if Ramsgate and much of Thanet is trashed by low flying aircraft, because they think its a vote winner by conning electors into voting for them at the next election, but they haven’t told them only cargo planes would operate, not Passengers, the traitors!

  7. What is the point of having an area designated as a conservation area if new builds are not sensitively designed to fit in with the existing architecture? Why do TDC flout these rules? They did the same with the Duke Street development which sits incongruous to its period surroundings. It just makes me think why would a council deliberately ignore the word “conservation” but then we are talking about TDC who value none of the Isle’s architecture …….or are they paid back handers to push certain projects through? It makes me wonder.

  8. So TDC want the councillors to defer the approval over to the planners so they can give consent for a small development contribution fee ! What happens with these small fees to get guaranteed consent from the Planning dept? Not being used on anything they are meant for, that’s for sure.
    BTW that proposed development is one of the ugliest looking for a long time and would ruin the outlook of the Ramsgate Conservation Area.

  9. A very poor design that is out of keeping with the surrounding buildings and this should be refused permission in such a prominent location overlooking the harbour. The Royal has been a pub since the early 18th century when it was known as the Kings Head. Sadly the current building externally hides its historic background. There is no reason it could not survive at least in part as a pub if the owners invested in it rather than trying to just compete on price with Wetherspoons in a race to the bottom. There are plenty of places offering cheap drinks nearby. This site would benefit from a more sensitive redevelopment and the council should refuse permission for the current application. Ramsgate deserves better.

  10. Someone went to architectural college, trained for 4+ years (5 or maybe six years depending on if they took their Part 2 and Part 3 exams), then designed and presented this to a client, as a suitable building facing a Royal Harbour surrounded by Georgian architecture. I hate to be negative about progress in this town but my God this is dire, please TDC don’t let this happen.

  11. Presumably the same thing happened with the Travelodge .The harbour isn’t surrounded by Georgian architecture anyway. There’s an interesting mixture of architecture there, plus of course that open bit at the end of the piers, where the tide comes in and goes out.

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