Turner Contemporary earmarked for £6 million expansion project

Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary in Margate could undergo a £6million project to expand, possibly using the Rendezvous site.

The Turner Contemporary Phase 2 scheme will be a combination of new build refurbishment and reconfiguration at the gallery.

Documents to Kent County Council’s Policy & Resources Cabinet Committee state: “Turner Contemporary has outgrown the space in its current building and over the last (six) years of operations, staff have been able to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the current facility which is based in Margate facing the North Sea.

Photo Mel Chennell

“Working with Live Margate, the project will identify how a wider scheme with possibly several phases could be brought forward in which Turner would be the main catalyst.

“The outcome would be a mixed-use development that would deliver outcomes against Live Margate funds.

“The project seeks to bring forward new build and refurbishment options for the Turner Contemporary while at the same time potentially exploring the opportunities for the adjacent Rendezvous site.”

The scheme would be funded by £3 million from Arts Council England (ACE) and around £2.6 million of KCC funding with the remainder made up from other sources.

Guy Hollaway Architects

In 2013 Guy Hollaway Architects were appointed by Kent County Council for a plan to create a 60-bed ‘destination’ hotel and restaurant with multi-coloured shutters on the seafront Rendezvous site but this did not come to fruition.

The scheme for the hotel, restaurant and 18 apartments was granted planning permission in October 2014 and minutes from this time reveal the authority had hoped the hotel would be built and open by Christmas 2017.

But the £10 million plan was mothballed because KCC needed “third-party funding” to get work underway.

The document for the new expansion plan states: “KCC currently subsidies the facility, along with the Arts Council England (ACE), both of whom are looking to cut their ongoing revenue subsidy.

Photo Mel Chennell

“The outcome will be to cut running costs on the facility and increase income generating capacity for the Trust in order to allow ACE and KCC to cut current subsidy levels to more manageable levels.

“The project will seek to look at options for driving revenue income and cutting revenue costs in the building. This will include detailed work on income projections from food and beverage, retail, car parking, membership, venue hire and donations.

“The project is currently putting in place the relevant governance and delivery vehicles needed to progress. As part of this, a number of options will be brought forward in terms of refurbishment and new build and the adjacent Rendezvous site will also be considered.”

Stage one of the application process for ACE funding has been completed. A full application has to be made for the bid to be assessed further. A feasibility study and outline business case has been completed. A full business case must now be developed.

The project completion date is listed as April 2021.

The gallery, currently exhibiting Tracey Emin’s My Bed, will host one of the most prestigious contemporary art events in the world – the Turner Prize 2019.

Since opening in 2011, Turner Contemporary has welcomed over 2,554,735 visits. The gallery has exhibited the work of over 400 artists in more than 45 exhibitions, and has brought over 250 JMW Turner paintings to Margate.

Photo Ady Kerry

Turner Contemporary director Victoria Pomery (pictured above) said: “The next phase of Turner Contemporary will be designed to ensure that the organisation is sustainable into the future.  After six years of operation and 2.5 million visits, the gallery has been widely acknowledged as the  model of arts led regeneration.

“Building on the gallery’s success will further contribute to making Margate an exciting place to live, work and visit.”

Mike Hill, KCC Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “ KCC continues to support Turner Contemporary and its success to date. We recognise both its growth aspirations and the need to maintain the quality of the attraction and KCC has worked with the Turner to submit a stage 1 bid for the refurbishment and extension of the gallery. However, nothing is guaranteed as we still have to submit a stage 2 bid in 2018.”



  1. Any chance of a gallery where local archaeology could be displayed? At present what is found in Thanet leaves Thanet and most is never seen again!
    Margaret Symonds, Chair – Isle of Thanet Archaeological Society

  2. Since 1924 Margate has had a yacht Club this proposed development looks like its existing boat park would be removed? A sailing club without a boat park would be a major impact on the clubs survival. I do hope the developers have a solution for this issue. KCC had always promised this facility would be addressed. Will they keep there word or is a water sports club facility low on its list of financial priorities in a sea side town?

  3. Waste of space literally. Go into the centre and there is nothing but space.Empty space. How this is being made out to be a success is beyond me. Still if someone can get millions out of a bed then why put anything else in there. People travelling from afar must be so disappointed having visited the place.Now we are to have MORE EMPTY SPACE. Whats the world coming to.

  4. It has been wonderful to see the transformation of old Margate over the years due to the Turner Centre. More development into the town can only be a good thing.

  5. I hope the planned improvements include easier access for disabled people in and around the Turner Gallery . At present the tall DOORS to the toilet and Cafe are too heavy for an unacompnaied wheeel chair user , or a frail elderly person to push open unaided. Just pop an architect into a self propelling wheel chair and let them try it.
    Anbother aspect of access is visual SIGNAGE. I have always found this ‘discreet’ verging on invisible for someone like me with some visual difficulties.
    Otherwise go for it and I hope you can make the place pay more for itself with the new additions , and continue to give us a wonderful range of Exhibitions through out the year

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