Once a place of hustle and bustle, it now sits silent. No workers clambering up and down scaffolding, no trowels laying bricks, and buildings left open to the elements, the only occupants are the pigeons.
The former Sands Motel site (outlined in red below) is nestled between the sea and the A259 and situated in St Mary’s Bay (Kent).
Compass Builders Ltd, purchased the 1.6 hectares (4 acres) site, known previously as the Sands Motel (in orange above) for £2,500,000 plus £500,000 VAT, on 22 September 2017. They were to deliver 85 residential units on the site, however, they have gone bust, leaving many buildings uncompleted and left open to the elements. It is a blot on the wonderful landscape of St Mary’s Bay.
The site though was first purchased by FDC Homes Limited in 2004.
On the 5 Jan 2006 FDC Homes Limited lodged their first planning Application (Y06/003/SH), with the Council, however, this fell by the way side. Almost two years later, in November 2007, FDC Homes Ltd lodged a second planning application (Y07/1566/SH). The application was a full planning application, as opposed to outline planning, for 85 dwellings with associated parking and gardens.
For the next nine years nothing happened on the site. It came before the Planning Committee on the 8 March 2016, with a recommendation to approve 59 houses and 26 apartments. Sixty six local people made written objections to the scheme. There was only an allocation of seven affordable homes; which was contrary to the 30 per cent required at that time. Planning permission was granted on 15th June 2016 (decision notice).
The site was then advertised by Caxtons. At that time according to the Viability Report, the net realization of the site was £22,705,000. Acquisitions costs were £1.5m Construction costs were £10.5m and other costs brought it to £18.2m, leaving a profit of approximately £4.5m
Sixteen months later FDC Homes Ltd sell the site, to Compass Builders Ltd. Works commenced on the site in early 2018, and was to cost £20m according to Martello Consultancy, who were appointed as the employers agent and technical architect.
Sometime in early 2022, work on the site had come to a stop.
During the 2023 election campaign, literature was posted through local peoples doors, suggesting the site be compulsory purchased by the Council. In May 2023, Compass Builders Ltd had fallen into insolvency, according to Companies House and The Gazette.
Since Compass Builders Ltd have fallen into insolvency, we understand several developers have looked at potentially purchasing the site, but none have done so, due to the complications and location of the site.
Ever since the site went silent in early 2022, the good people of St Mary’s Bay have to live beside this blot on the landscape. Seven years after it was granted planning permission, the site remains empty and the only occupants are the pigeons.
Building next to the sea is fraught with danger, but not impossible. Lets hope some developer, or philanthropist, comes to the rescue of the people of St Marys Bay, as they deserve to live in an environment which does not have a blot on the landscape in their midst.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime