Campaigns have been launched by members of the Vale Square Residents Association and the new Save Hartsdown group in protest at the proposed sale of council-owned land at public auction.
The sales are part of Thanet council’s asset disposal strategy – selling property and land to bring money into the coffers and save spending on maintenance and repairs.
Some properties, such as The Old Lookout in Broadstairs and Birchington Memorial Ground, have been transferred as community assets to groups or parish councils.
But a number of properties with community interest have been sold, or are due to be sold, to the highest bidder.
The authority, which owns around 600 properties on the isle, aimed to save £200,000 per annum over two years with the programme of disposals.
We look at 9 council properties with community interest that have been sold, or are due to go under the hammer at public auction.
Land at Hartsdown Park
A campaign has been launched, with legal action also being discussed, to fight Thanet council plans to sell land at Hartsdown Park which is currently home to sports clubs and a long-standing business.
The plot has been listed to go under the hammer at auction on September 10 following a council decision approved in June to sell off the freehold.
But furious tenants say they will fight the decision which they fear will impact on hundreds of young people who every week use the Falcon and Isle of Thanet boxing and kickboxing clubs, the table tennis club and the prestigious Thanet Taekwondo Club which has been at the site for some 25 years.
Also established on site for 18 years is Fire Technology, owned by businessman Andrew Hunt who says he was encouraged by the council’s assets boss Edwina Crowley to make a formal offer for the freehold and then had “an almost immediate” rejection despite offering the asking price.
A question has been raised over whether the land can be sold at all due to it being gifted to the people of Margate under a protective covenant in the will of former mayor Maude Hatfeild.
Vale Square garden
The Vale Square east garden is due to go under the hammer on September 13 with Allsop property auctions as part of the council’s asset disposal programme.
The Vale Square Residents Association, which successfully registered the garden as a community asset in 2014, has been told that if members want to own the site they will have to bid at the auction.
Members of a residents’ association have spent 32 years clearing and maintaining the piece of land so it can be used by the community.
Jocelyn McCarthy, from the association, says a pledge from the authority that the group would be able to have the land under a community transfer has been dumped and letters and emails asking for the site to be withdrawn from auction have gone unanswered.
A petition launched to back the residents association claim to the gardens can be found here
Anger as Ramsgate gardens cared for by residents association for 32 years put up for auction by Thanet council
Western Undercliff café and toilets in Ramsgate.
A fundraiser has been launched to bring a community café, toilets, lifeguards, benches and other improvements to the Western Undercliff in Ramsgate.
The plan is part of a bid by The Hideaway – made up of members from the Western Undercliff Regeneration group – to buy the former café and toilets from Thanet council as a community asset.
The toilets and café have been shut since the property was severely damaged in October 2014 as the result of the failure of the main Southern Water sewer. Following the clearance of contaminated waste from the site it was found that the foundation slab of the property had been fractured, damaging the structure of the building.
Thanet council had planned to demolish the site in 2015. It was then put on an asset disposal list that year but later withdrawn.
It was put back on the asset disposal list following approval last July to sell the site off. The group then filed an expression of interest.
The area is base for community groups including the Western Undercliff Regeneration Group (above) and members of the Addington Street Community. It was also used in 2015 for the revived Ramsgate Sprint motorcycle event which attracted thousands of visitors.
The target for the fundraiser is £6000.
Fundraiser launched as part of plan to bring back cafe, toilets and other facilities to the Western Undercliff
Foresters’ Hall in Ramsgate
The property, which is used by charity East Kent Mencap and by Headway, is Grade II listed and designated an Asset of Community Value. TDC agreed to sell it off in November 2017.
The plan is to sell it at market value with first refusal given to the Trustees of East Kent Mencap.
TDC says the building needed to be sold as it is falling into disrepair and will need at least £455,145 spent to bring it back to a reasonable condition.
TDC does not have the money to carry out the work.
West Cliff Hall
In July 2017, TDC agreed to sell the West Cliff Hall and Gardens on the open market.
The decision provoked an angry response from the organisation that has been working eight years on a project to revive the building.
Project MotorHouse, headed by Ramsgate resident Janet Fielding, has been working since 2009 to acquire and renovate the West Cliff Hall to create cinemas; theatres; bars; restaurants, offices and youth facilities.
In February this year the council announced it was seeking seeking expressions of interest in the hall. The Project MotorHouse group has been told it can bid for the premises.
Dane Valley Enterprise Units in St Peter’s
The 22 workshops were sold at auction in March 2017 for £415,000.
The sale came despite a campaign by small businesses at the site who said they wanted to buy the 22 workshops between them.
The units were originally intended for use for start-up businesses. The site is now not in use.
Thanet Canoe Club
The former Thanet Canoe Club’s base in Newgate Gap, Margate, sold at auction for £99,000 after a bidding war in February 2017.
But not all sales were a bad thing, for these two sites it means a new lease of life:
Viking Bay shelter
The seafront shelter, former toilets and lift off Victoria Parade at Viking Bay went under the hammer for a whopping £350,000 in October 2017.
Thanet council sold the freehold for the site which was bought by Annita and Justin van Oortmerssen and opened as the Funicular café this June.
Fort Road Hotel
Councillors agreed in October 2017 to put the property up for sale 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.
The property is listed on maps of Margate going back to 1821, although it may be older.
In 2015 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.
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 Turner Contemporary to a hotel.