Artist Tracey Emin submits plans for studio and flat at former Thanet Press site

Tracey Emin

Artist Tracey Emin has submitted a planning application to convert part of the former Thanet Press site in Margate into an artist’s studio and one bedroom flat.

The ‘My Bed’ artist wants to convert part of the complex of buildings on the southern side of Union Crescent to the east of the junction with Cecil Square and opposite the junction with Pump Lane.

Her application relates to part of the late 19th century, Union Crescent frontage, together with part of a 1950’s section of the former printworks complex, which lies at the rear of the site with frontage onto Prince’s Street.

The artist confirmed plans to move to the town during the opening of her My Bed exhibition at Turner Contemporary in October.

The Isle of Thanet News had exclusively revealed her intentions for renewing Margate connections following an interview when she switched on the Dreamland neon sign at the park’s reopening last May.

Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty

In October Ms Emin said: “I have just bought a big studio here and I’m going to work here.

“The studio should be finished in July so I am hoping to come back (to Margate) by then.

“Margate has real energy and fantastic architecture, sunsets and seascapes and beaches. I think it has a really good chance of becoming a fantastic epicentre. London feels like it is completely crushing me.

“In Margate Turner Contemporary has boosted the whole economy and where there were boarded up shops in the High Street there are now fantastic boutiques, vintage shops and interesting restaurants.

“I do not want to wake up to London, I want to wake up and be inspired by the same things that inspired Turner.

“People have asked me if moving will change my work. I think it will. My work used my childhood and that had bad memories. Now I will be here and creating good memories.

“There will be so many more creative people moving to Margate, I know so many people who are coming here.”

Tracey Emin, at the launch of the My Bed installation at Turner Contemporary

In documents lodged by planning agent John Elvidge, it states: “The proposed change of use to incorporate artist’s studio and residential uses…(is) bringing back into beneficial use part of a vacant, commercial building, creating employment in a sustainable form when combined with residential accommodation, as well as contributing to the cultural diversity of the district, entirely appropriate to the site.

“The industrial character of the building enhances the streetscene, reinforces local distinctiveness and adds to the telling of the story of Margate. Industrial buildings are not well represented in this conservation area, and this is therefore a rare survival that tells its own important story about historic Margate that adds another layer to the town’s typical associations with elegant residential developments and seaside entertainments.”

The 54-year-old’s studio will be alongside the new Carl Freedman gallery which received planning approval in December.

The 1950’s commercial building  will house Freedman’s gallery and a print publishing business Counter Editions.

The Freedman gallery will be open from 10am to 4pm and will create 6 jobs, 3 full-time and 3 part-time.

The rest of the Thanet Press site is owned by Jonathan Viner. Mr Viner is a director of Union Crescent Property Limited, which paid £635,000 for the historic building in 2016.

Mr Viner sold a 10,000 sq. ft space to Carl Freedman and intends to open his own second gallery within the remaining 20,000 sq ft of the building.

Speaking to The Art Paper last year he said he was in discussions with partners and aims to create an “arts district” in Margate.

A planning application for Mr Viner, who is also director of Jonathan Viner Galleries and Margate natural skin and body care firm Haeckels, is being prepared.

Thanet Press closed in 2011 with the loss of 74 jobs following financial troubles.

An application to turn the site into 64 flats, made by BHD Architects on behalf of GTL Property Management, was refused and an appeal against the decision in 2015 was dismissed.

Thanet council is yet to make a decision on Ms Emin’s application.

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