£6million expansion plans for Turner Contemporary to be shared at public event

Turner Contemporary Photo Frank Leppard

Plans for the £6million expansion of Turner Contemporary in Margate will be shared at an event this month.

The Turner Contemporary Phase 2 scheme will be a combination of new build refurbishment and reconfiguration at the gallery.

The project seeks to bring forward new build and refurbishment options for Turner Contemporary while at the same time potentially exploring the opportunities for the adjacent Rendezvous site.

The scheme would be funded by £3 million from Arts Council England (ACE) and around £2.6 million of KCC funding with the remainder made up from other sources.

Turner Contemporary says the work is necessary because of high visitor numbers. Since opening in 2011, Turner Contemporary has had more than 2.8 million visits and says it has  generated £68 million for the local economy.

Photo Manu Palomeque

A statement says: “The organisation’s success in attracting far higher visitor numbers than originally anticipated has meant that the building is now at capacity and increasing demand is threatening to compromise the high quality cultural offer, and the quality of the visitor experience.

“Hence, we plan to make changes to the building in order for it to be more sustainable, and provide an even better, more accessible experience for our visitors. Whilst being sensitive to the integrity of the architecture, we will reconfigure the building to enable us to work even more creatively, connect with more visitors, artists, children and young people, increase cultural tourism and generate vital income to support our work.”

The event on September 19 will allow those taking part to find out about the design development, capital project, timescales and ideas from Avanti architects and ask questions.

Any changes to the building will be subject to a successful funding application to Arts Council England. A Stage 2 application will be submitted by December 14.

How the Turner Rooms could look Source: David Chipperfield Architects

Plans for a 100 room ‘hostel’ next to Tuner Contemporary were unveiled by architect David Chipperfield last month.

The proposal for the Turner Rooms is aimed at securing the financial future for the gallery, saying it  will: “provide a residential component to the gallery’s facilities, accommodating visitors and group events, such as conferences, that are related to the Turner Contemporary programme.

“The hostel contains 100 simple, functional sea-facing rooms across four levels, which are designed to be accessible in price and flexible in arrangement. Meeting rooms, social spaces, and a cafe/brasserie will be located on the lower levels of the building, and open out onto the surrounding terrace.”

Margate RNLI branch is already looking for a new base. The current site will become untenable as Turner Contemporary carries out its expansion plans.

The branch 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.

To book a place at the event, which runs from 6pm to 8pm, click here


  1. If the accommodation were to be built we would need to know where the lifeboat station would be relocated to before any final decision was made. However, I look forward to any new venture that will bring visitors to Margate and Thanet as a whole. Just a pity that it has to be buildings without character. Next phase A marina within Margate Harbour. ?

  2. How about a protest to object to the proposed building over Margate Yacht Clubs boat park? Who needs an established water sports club in a Seaside town?

  3. Well, it will certainly tidy up the eyesore that is at present between the LifeBoat Station and the Winter Gardens, I hope it will not be too high, to spoil the views from the top of Fort Hill.
    The proposed new Boathouse within the Harbour is envisaged to be of architectural merit too, and so compliment the entire Harbour vista, while providing the necessary facilities for the new Shannon Class LifeBoat and crew, Plus it will be a visitor attraction in its own right.
    It’s good to see that KCC and other bodies are making efforts to ensure Margate’s regeneration is going to happen….

    • Liam Coyle -While I agree with your economic points of view of the Turners infrequence on Margate. I however strongly disagree with your “Eye sore” statement that is rows of parked boats which was set out in a KCC agreement that ensured Margate Yacht Club continued to still have a facility for sailing from Margate and allowed the building of the current Turner building. While only being a small family club with a RYA sailing school it has a history dating from 1924 and this year hosted one of the largest sailing events in Kent “The Man of Kent” this was very well supported by other Kentish clubs. To build over the boat park without an alternative site would in effect destroy the club. Perhaps an “Eye sore” in your view surely a seaside Town should have a balance of facilities. No its down to Money money money and trample on the minority organisation without the same support of KCC, TDC, locally or the national funding from organisations such as the Royal Yachting Association that can not match the fiances of the Art council. Ironic that Turner painted ships/boats – if he was here today he might only ( if the proposal goes ahead ) have to use a telescope to see sailing boats!!

  4. I remember all the naysayers calling it a white elephant etc before it was built. Hopefully they will be popping to the old town for a huge slice of humble pie. Can’t say the exhibits are always my thing but it has bought a lot of people to the town and is a conversation piece when you mention the town to no margatonians.

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