London-based Fleet Architects have been appointed to work on the Fort Road Hotel in Margate with the aim of bringing it back to its former use.
The hotel sold at auction on June 12 for £360,000 – double the guide price of £180,000.
Fleet Architects are now working with the new owners to explore returning the prominent building adjacent to the Turner Contemporary to a hotel.
In a statement they say: “Details are yet to be investigated but the works will secure the long term future of the building, reputedly frequented by JMW Turner himself, which was previously threatened with demolition.
“The new owners are keen to work with local interest groups in developing the most appropriate plan which will provide employment in high quality hospitality and catering and seek to use local construction trades in addition to protecting a much loved local property from the bulldozers.”
Last October 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 Hollaway Architects but TDC decided it was not suitable.
At a council meeting in April 2015 it was decided that the building should be converted into social housing flats.
The social housing plan also failed to get off the ground.