Derelict Western Undercliff cafe site with approval for flats and cafe listed for sale at £1.2m

Plans have been approved for a flats, cafe and toilet build (Image Kallars)

The site of the derelict Western Undercliff café in Ramsgate has gone on the sale market for £1.2million after gaining new planning permission last December.

Approval was given to an application by Custom Build Developments Ltd to demolish the existing café building and build a new ground floor cafe; public toilets; sub station; and 13 flats over five floors.

The cafe shut in 2014 when a burst water pipe forced its closure.

A fundraiser was launched in 2018 as part of a bid by The Hideaway  – made up of members from the Western Undercliff Regeneration group – to buy the site from Thanet council as a community asset.But the authority made a decision  to dispose of the site.

The site was  sold by Thanet council at auction for £100,000 in 2018.

Plans submitted by then-owner Western Undercliff Ltd for a café, restaurant and flats in a “ship” shaped build were approved at the end of 2020 but ditched in January 2021 by the developer in a row with Thanet council over further financial contributions.

The site went back to auction in November 2021 with the planning consent still valid and sold for £600,000.

Amended plans were lodged with the council last April, using the same footprint but including a reconfiguration of the residential units and axing the previously planned top floor restaurant. Instead this will be replaced by one large feature apartment and the addition of an extra floor of residential accommodation – creating a six storey build.

The flats will be a mix on one and two-bed.

The public toilets will be managed by the operator of the café. Amended plans have resulted in refuse storage being internally located, within a specified area for the residential units, and within the commercial unit itself for the use of the cafe.

New design (Camal Architects)

An emergency evacuation plan shows that in the event of a flood warning alarm, occupants should make their way to the third floor where there is an external rear exit walkway to the top of the cliffs. An emergency refuge area in the case of auxiliary rescue is provided at fifth floor level, to be accessed from the internal stairwell.

Thanet Local Plan requires that for developments exceeding 10 dwellings, 30% affordable housing be provided on site. The project would have required four affordable units but the applicant raised viability concerns.

A viability assessment included a valuation report that indicated the development would provide a surplus of £400,000.

The benchmark land value provided by the applicant was based upon the purchase price of the site at £600,000. However, it was argued that the existing use value for the derelict cafe and public toilet could be argued as being nil, and consultants Dixon Searle advised that a lower benchmark land value would have been expected, such as £480,000.

The applicant’s appraisal included allowances for abnormal costs, such as sea defences, a pumped waste system, an electricity substation, which have been evidenced through submitted costings. Other abnormal costs have included oversail rights, easements and licenses from the council and harbour.

Design (Camal Architects)

A planning officer report said: “The site is previously developed land within the urban confines, and the proposal is for residential units, for which there is a need, and the replacement of the existing beach cafe and WC, which will provide a community and tourism benefit for the area.

“Whilst affordable housing has not been achieved, a visibility assessment has been submitted and independently reviews, and concludes that a contribution towards affordable housing would not be reasonable to request in this instance.”

Planning permission was approved last December and the site is now being marketed for £1.2m. Details are shown on Kallars property site here

Ward councillor Becky Wing says rejecting the initial community bid in 2018 was a missed opportunity.

She said: “With hindsight a better option for Thanet District Council, and even more so the large beach and sea going community at the Western Undercliff, as well as visitors, would have been to have accepted the community offer of £70k to refurbish the original cafe and toilets.

“Instead the council has missed out on an ongoing income from what was a successful asset and the Western Undercliff community left without even basic toilet facilities and cafe.

“To make things worse the footpath own by Thanet District Council remains impassable and the derelict cafe building blights the whole area.

“As a regular user of the beach and member of the large group of sea swimmers: Mermads it is extremely frustrating that the Western Undercliff beach, one of the safest places to swim and looked after by many volunteers, continues to have no facilities.”

County Councillor Karen Constantine added: “The owners – or Thanet District Council –  need to take urgent steps to secure this site. There are unfettered entry points to the interior and open access to the flat roof – which has no barriers.

“Not only this, the whole area has become littered with graffiti, including swastikas, and debris and is an absolute eyesore.

“The building is a magnet for young people to ‘hang out’ and I fear someone is going to be injured.

“What a terrible advert for Ramsgate’s fine coastline. Surely the council issued a contract on maintenance and upkeep?”

26 Comments

  1. Developers ?
    Land bankers , more like .Over hand fee and affordable housing- not the issue
    TDC – could have been run , in no doubt at all very well by local residents- nope brown envelope and greed -hand your heads in shame –
    Locals been keeping secured for the “developers” – who reported will be starting work soon , my derrière’s!
    Oh and the lift – land banked with ? dubious “cash”?

  2. So whoever bought it has flipped it for double profit.

    Two private flips since TDC sold it. Despite the community wanting to buy it at that point.

    What a depressing tale.

    • Another nonsensical reply from Ms. P, if you had ever been to the Western Undercliffe (do you even live in Thanet?) you would know that the beaches are incredibly popular, especially with young families, as the safest beaches in Ramsgate. The lack of café and toilets is a major missed opportunity, and the sort of thing expected from the local council. Please go and troll elsewhere.

  3. Ms Pink why would you walk for around 4 miles from Thanet Parkway, when Ramsgate station which you must have passed through is much nearer?
    Are you simply being obtuse by trying to prove that Thanet Parkway has any purpose, or are you losing the plot?
    Don’t be so self righteous,most of us walk, and if the transport system was more sensible, walking and cycling would increase considerably.

    • I have absolutely no doubt that it is way beyond your comprehension why anyone would want to walk via the lovely 17th & 18th century buildings of Cliffsend, the Viking Ship and cafe, and the views of Deal and beyond via the stunning Pegwell Bay cliffs – especially if it in any way involves the improved and sensible transport links of Thanet Parkway. But why anyone should be verbally abused for choosing to do so by a supposed intelligent individual is bizarre in the extreme.

      Have a lovely evening.

      • To get from Thanet Parkway you have to pass by late 20th century buildings, most of Cliffsend is the same, Pegwell has mostly Victorian buildings.If you want to see Georgian and Regency buildings and Pugin’s Grange get off at Ramsgate and stroll through Ellington Park.I am not a supposed intelligent person,I am an observer and collator of evidence.If you will carry barking at people, you cannot be surprised if you are called to account.You call it abuse, but you are your own worst enemy by being unpleasant.

          • I used Parkway station for work purposes yesterday and it’s definitely getting busier with commuters. I have been using it from the start and the station is becoming more and more popular. I haven’t got an agenda. Just facts.

            Yes there are lovely walks from Cliffsend rather than Ramsgate. Totally different views and routes.

          • It’s also a great starting point when walking to North Thanet (St. Nicolas, Birchington, etc) via Minster and Monkton. In fact might do that Sunday, weather permitting!

  4. Sold by TDC for £100,000. Now for sale at £1.2 million as a private sale. This is just another example of our inept bureaucrats mismanaging public funds.
    I’ll bet little brown envelopes help though!!

  5. The site will be of interest to investors, all the hard work dealing with t ds and securing planning permission has been done. Its an oven ready site.
    Currently its a derelict unloved site with antisocial behaviour, the Architects design looks like a coastal carbuncle.
    Hopefully the cafe & toilets wont be open during summer only. Hopefully the public toilets will be free to use.
    What next ? development of the former military road elevator!

  6. Noakes, I think Pinky has an absolute right to walk from Where he want to wherever he wants without criticism from you or anyone else for that matter, Parkway to Broadstairs sounds like a very pleasant stroll if the sun is shining. By the way you didn’t answer my point on anther subject about sacked ferry workers who didn’t pay UK tax for years, I said don’t feel to sorry for them.Now have a go about another subject that you know-“everything “ about.

    • Agreed Ms Pink is quite entitled to walk along the highways and byways of old England, but my point was that her virtue signalling was unnecessary and that a walk from Ramsgate Station offered alternative scenery as good if not better than her chosen route.The jury is out on Thanet Parkway, but even if it does generate increased patronage,its overall cost,its lack of connectivity,poor design and environmental impact,is damning.
      As for your second point, seafarers are allowed to receive a rebate for nights out of the country.This was designed for deep sea mariners, but as I recall the rebate was withdrawn by the HMRC in the early 1980’s.It was never much and it was an anomaly.Thanks to Brexit it may have been reintroduced, but I have no information about that. Be that as it may, are you really telling me that P+O were justified in the unpleasant and unlawful action in replacing UK based local crews, with underpaid, overworked migrant workers, allegedly on the justification of saving 2000 shore based jobs, that will probably be replaced by AI bots?
      I think that says more about you than the ex seafarers. Being a seafarer can be a hard and dangerous life, most of my former shipmates have now joined those of the Titanic,Jervis Bay, and the Derbyshire, in manning the heavenly host, because of morbidities picked up during their sea service.
      If you fancy sailing on one of P+O’s new double ended ferries, staffed by a tired, overworked crew, who have several nationalities, and where english is not their first language, be my guest, but quite why P+O would invest huge sums on these vessels and staff them in the way they do is for them to respond.
      And for the record the name is Nokes, not Noakes, please get it right.
      As for TDC, it is not surprising that they did not achieve a market value with planning permission, because estate management at Cecil Street has never been their forte.If they were bothered about some kind of criticism about giving themselves planning permission, they could have used an an architect and agent to act on their behalf on an arms length basis.

  7. Back to reality, where are the car parks for this venture? Anyone coming back with a few bags of shopping, will somehow have to carry them down the cliff to their flat!

  8. Me Noakes, P&O ferry workers claimed all their tax back for nights out of the country, that’s why ships that were due to arrive in port at 23.30 were always 45 minutes late . Those who wanted to gain extra nights out of the country used to do a round trip arriving back into Dover in the early hours.

  9. Instead of trying to build a block on the side of an unstable chalk cliff and not pay the share towards affordable housing why don’t they just build in an easier location?
    If that piece of cliff has gone from £100,000 to £600,000 and then again to £1200,000 without even any building taking place how can anyone make a profit after developing costs on top? They would have to market and sell them for near a £1000,000 each.
    No TDC, don’t let developers get away without paying their share to the public purse if as the Planning officer states, there is a need for this development. In fact, if these cliffs are that valuable then why doesn’t TDC sell more off for luxury home developments themselves without putting into auction for some other company to make such huge profits?

  10. More unnecessary & ugly overpriced flats and a eyesore to our beaches and coastal areas!
    20 years time, the countryside will be non existent! Then along with most of our coastal land being taken for expensive apartments. After time if the maintenance is kept up will be okay! But you know the maintenanceoff the property’s won’t be done!

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