Fort Road Hotel in Margate to be sold at auction

The hotel has been empty for more than 22 years Photo geograph

The Fort Road Hotel in Margate will go under the hammer at auction next month.

The former Fort Castle pub is being marketed for a guide price of £180,000.

Last year Thanet council agreed to put the property on the open market after 22 years of it laying empty.

The hotel was compulsorily purchased by the authority in May 2010. Initial plans for the site were for a boutique hotel.

In 2011 more than 20 informal enquiries from developers, hotel owners and architects were made to TDC in relation to the property. A planning application to turn it from bedsits to a hotel was granted with the aim of linking its regeneration to Turner Contemporary.

In a TDC report at the time it stated: “ The Fort Road Hotel (previously the Fort Castle Public House) is one of the last surviving buildings in the area today that the artist JMW Turner would recognise. Turner spent 15 years ‘weekending’ in Margate with Sophia Booth (whose house was opposite) and, as a noted drinker, it seems inconceivable that he did not visit the establishment.”

The property is listed on maps of Margate going back to 1821, although it may be older.

TDC also installed a neon advertisement on the roof proclaiming ‘Iconic Site’ and said plans were for it to be turned into: “as a small, twenty-first century character hotel with up to twelve rooms and a restaurant; which would help address the shortfall of quality hotel accommodation in Margate.”

But although a formal advert was published in October 2011 and 30 application packs for the project were sent out, none were returned to the council.

A mixed use hotel and restaurant scheme was drawn up by Guy Holloway Architects but TDC decided it was not suitable.

In 2015 an expression of interest was made at the 11th hour by the Pollock’s Toy Museum Trust. The idea was for the Trust to house its collection at the property and open it as an attraction. However, at a council meeting in April of that year it was decided that the building should be converted into social housing flats.

A budget of £950,000 was agreed for the conversion. A further budget of £63,750, was set aside for costs of statutory compensation following the CPO. An allowance was also made for costs of £29,447 incurred prior to April 2015. Further costs for the building, totalling £77,009 have been incurred by TDC to date.

The social housing plan also failed to get off the ground. According to TDC documents , initial feasibility work was completed to assess the likely cost of refurbishing the building for housing purposes.

Outline designs were prepared  for potential options to provide 4 or 5 flats, with estimated costs ranging between £874,000 and £1.18million.

A decision to put the property on the council’s asset disposal list was made last October.

Photo from 1975

Clive Emson auctioneers say the hotel building could be converted into residential units or used for a variety of commercial uses, as long as all necessary consents are obtainable.

The sale is being held at the Clive Emson Conference Centre, Kent County Showground, Detling, on Tuesday 12 June, starting at 11am.

Managing Director James Emson said: “A trend we are currently noticing is a demand for versatility and flexibility, perhaps in the form of mixed-use commercial and residential properties or good quality development and investment stock.

“Portfolio holders are widening their investments in 2018 as they monitor trends, attempt to predict the future and consider options – and the auction room remains the best place  do this.”

Read here: Two plans that were put forward to transform the derelict Fort Road Hotel