Exploratory works take place at Margate harbour as part of RNLI investigations for new base

Works at Margate harbour Photo Cliff Tamplin

Drilling works taking place in Margate harbour this week are being done on behalf of Margate RNLI.

The  core sample works are part of investigations being carried out as the RNLI branch looks for a new base.

The RNLI will be served notice when the lease expires in April 2021 for the current boathouse which is based behind Turner Contemporary. The boathouse is also too small to house the new Shannon all-weather lifeboat, meaning a larger venue is needed.

The current site will also become untenable as Turner Contemporary carries out expansion plans, which could include siting a 100-room hostel on the land adjacent to the gallery.

How the hostel could look Source: David Chipperfield Architects

Turner Contemporary confirmed expansion plans to The Isle of Thanet News last October.

At the time The Isle of Thanet News discovered that the £6million project to expand would be a combination of new build refurbishment and reconfiguration at the gallery.

Documents to Kent County Council’s Policy & Resources Cabinet Committee last year stated: “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.

Image Studio Four Architects

The RNLI branch had previously made a planning application for a new boathouse on the Sands (pictured above) but these were put on the backburner in 2016 amid numerous objections.

The core sample works will takes place throughout the week.

A Margate RNLI spokesman said: “In the week beginning 13 August, a contractor will be carrying out investigative work in Margate Harbour on behalf of the RNLI.

“It is no secret that Margate Lifeboat Station needs to be replaced in the near future. The current site is unfeasible as an extension for our neighbour Turner Contemporary is in development and we will be served notice to quit our present location when our lease expires.

Image Margate RNLI

“The construction of a new station will provide a base which is fit for future lifesaving operations in the town. It will be carefully designed to accommodate a new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and to fit in with the town’s developing harbour front, placing us at the heart of the community.

“Although the proposed location and plans are still in development (and the current works are investigatory only) we are eager to share designs with the public as soon as we are able.

“The RNLI is committed to the safety of Margate’s residents and visitors, now and in the future and this year saw the first local Swim Safe programme offering free water safety classes to children in the town.

Drilling works: Photo David Townsend

“The speed which the classes filled up is a testament to how enthusiastically local residents take to the water and to their appetite to being able to enjoy the sea as safely as possible.

“The August investigative works will cause no disruption to harbour users and we expect them to be complete by 17 August.”

The gallery expansion could also scupper a previous pledge for the area to provide boat space for Margate Yacht Club.