St Mary’s Bay, Former Sands Motel site: The only occupants are the pigeons

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








About shepwayvox (1820 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email:

11 Comments on St Mary’s Bay, Former Sands Motel site: The only occupants are the pigeons

  1. I can remember when this site was a turkey farm and each year a turkey was taken to
    No 10 Downing street so as the Circle of Life turns it’s never ending wheel then the birds , albeit they are now pigeons , have come home .

  2. There are rumours it is owned by the Council now, and that tje existing blocks will need demolishing owing defective foundstions.

    • @Chris

      Why build new homes so close to the sea, with rising sea levels this is crazy. Should be put back to a park or some kind of recreational center. The people of St May’s Bay do not deserve this eyesaw.

  3. I can’t believe they got planning permission in the first place, the buildings are too close together, some roofs jut out over other roofs guttering, one of the buildings by the main road looks like it’s leaning. I feel for the folks across the road who once had a view of the sea, now just a building site, their houses must have gone down in value surly.


    • @Frank

      What a lot of people are missing is this area that was built on was actually part of sea defences

    • @Frank

      If you fell out of a window you would land in your neibours front room they are that close

  5. A very accurate piece, thank you.
    In fact, a female officer from planning was witnessed to say, quote, ‘There were 65 objections, moving on’, to the planning committee.
    Objections included warnings to council regarding surface water flooding from the site to the properties across the A259 and sea defence failures due to the deposition of beach shingle by contractors, which compromises the concrete sea defence capability, designed to deflect high waves. The resultant effect also causes large rocks to be thrown over the sea defences in high winds, common in winter, while strong easterlies during high springs offer the greatest dangers.
    Issues were also raised regarding the accuracy of claimed sea water height in architect’s drawings, claiming a wash over of 1:200 years, it was noted that the drawn sea level is achieved and witnessed by locals more than several times each winter., video footage evidence was also offered, with no reply from Shepway.
    Warnings were submitted to Shepway Planning prior to committee meeting and at committee meeting stating the dangers of rocks breaking windows at ground level, the risk to families and young children playing in rooms behind the windows alarming.
    It was noticed that rock deposition, evidential of the dangers, had been cleared prior to a photographer arriving, approx. 48 hours later, resulting in a nice clear site appearing in a photograph presented on screen before the committee.
    A survey conducted by Shepway council asking local residents whether they agreed or disagreed with development proposals was stated as private and confidential. In fact, the results showed which households voted, and how they voted, with red and blue markers, in a clear diagram, generally available to all.
    Added to this, a bomb seems to remain, unexploded, on the site, now deeply buried, unable to be defused by a bomb disposal team at the time of discovery, due to sinking in soft mud. There appears no record of disarming this device, apparently.
    In brief, the committee appears to have been short changed on information relevant to public safety, which became further complicated by the munition deposition. Not only are we seeing regularly disturbing financial issues raised by Shepway Vox, certain administration is now appearing, quite literally, dangerous.
    Persons acting beyond their authority might be the lightest excuse, yet not a strong court defence in the event of a major incident.
    As the popular comment goes: some people might like to draw their own conclusions.

  6. With the responses coming in and discussions occurring throughout the Dymchurch and New Romney areas on this matter, not addressed for some years, it is becoming evident that the current system of planning approval continues to be vulnerable, varying from inappropriate property allocated in various areas to, seemingly, potentially dangerous.
    Whereby officers with, perhaps, public spirit, unwittingly place themselves in a questionable position, ill advised, as we appear to see here, more so than perhaps some other cases, which seems patently precarious from a personal legal stand point, a broader communication with the public, listened too, for a change, could have alleviated many of the problems, and costs, now encountered.

    In The Sands Motel case, council going in to a secret meeting and ordering out the public, in a heavy handed approach, who were clearly alarmed and attempting to raise awareness of the dangers being walked in to by council, is a classic case in point.

    Dismissal of objections, apparently by a planning officer, not a councilor, became a fulcrum in how the balance of decisions edged towards dangerous, it seems.

    There appears only feeble excuse for the council’s overall behaviour towards the public on that evening, and we can all see what resulted, from such high handed behaviour.

    • @Viator

      Monk was pulling all the strings in those days so is it any wonder that planning permission was approved?

  7. This is a piece appearing today regarding poor development under Greenwich council, which has taken the decision to demolish said property.
    Notably, there is a comment regarding developers selling their plans with Ai generated blue sky and vibrant colours, yet the reality, following construction, is quite different. The observations ring true of many proposals approved by FHDC, a council which is yet to be seen acting responsibly on behalf of the people.
    The visualisations before planning permission was granted over a decade ago showed a standard piece of contemporary residential architecture with details intended to render an otherwise blocky project easier on the eye. What was built is far more rudimentary and, in parts, resembles stacked shipping containers. There had been complaints from local people, the council said, adding that some of the buildings occupied a bigger footprint than allowed and there were missing facilities, including for disabled people.

    Announcing the decision on Tuesday, Anthony Okereke, the council leader, said it was “just not good enough”.

    Aidan Smith, cabinet member for regeneration, described it as a “mutant development that is a blight on the landscape”. He said: “If a scheme matching what has been built at Mast Quay Phase II was submitted for planning permission today, it would be refused, and we cannot let what has been delivered at Mast Quay Phase II go unchallenged.”

    Asked why it did not act sooner, Greenwich said it was not until 2022, when building work was finally finished, that it became clear that the breaches to the planning permission were more than just external.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: