Thanet council has put the Western Undercliff café and toilets and the West Cliff Hall in Ramsgate up for auction.
The café and toilets sale has been made despite a successful community campaign to raise funds to buy it.
The fundraiser was launched in July as 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 group had a £6,000 target and raised more than £6,330 with the crowdfunder and other fundraisers. The cash was match-funded, making a £12,000 pot.
The plan was to use the funding for everything from admin and company set up costs to engineer reports and architectural designs to overhaul the café building as well as funds for other improvements to make the artificial beach a family spot with proper facilities.
But Thanet council has reportedly turned down the group’s bid and placed the property with Clive Emson auctioneers.
It has a guide price of £100,000 plus fees and will go under the hammer on October 29.
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 It was then put on an asset disposal list that year but later withdrawn.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 stretch of beach used to boast chalets, showers, toilets, the café and shelters but the building of the Royal Harbour Approach road and tunnel, officially opened in 2000, saw the end of all the amenities except for the café and toilets.
The area is still popular with families because of the small bays enabling parents to keep an eye on their little ones but has no facilities at all.
West Cliff Hall
The West Cliff Hall will go up for auction on the same day, also with a £100,000 guide price.
The site was also agreed for sell-off in July as part of the council’s asset disposal programme. The decision infuriated Project MotorHouse, headed by Ramsgate resident Janet Fielding, which has been working since 2009 to acquire and renovate the hall to create cinemas; theatres; bars; restaurants, offices and youth facilities.
In 2016, Thanet council announced it was seeking ‘a formal development partner’ for Ramsgate’s West Cliff Hall and Gardens who had a ‘regeneration’ and ‘community benefit’ agenda.
Three years ago, TDC and Project MotorHouse jointly commissioned a surveyor’s report which found that not only is the steel frame of the building severely corroded and needs replacing, but the outer walls are resting on wet masonry with no other support.
The building supports the first 40 metres of the West Cliff Promenade.
Former council leader Sandy Ezekiel was photographed in 2007 giving the keys of the West Cliff Hall to Global Generation Church. The church then decided not to take on the site. It was offered to Kent Film Foundation but they too passed on it. It has now been empty for 13 years.
The property, at the Paragon, opened in 1914 as a theatre, concert hall and promenade venue, adjacent to the Royal Paragon Baths.
It had been an Italian Garden with bandstand until the cliff was dug out to make space for the new hall. The first 40 metres of the existing promenade along Ramsgate’s West Cliff, are formed by the roof of the concert hall.
The hall has had a rich history, including being the venue for a concert by the Rolling Stones in 1964, but it has lain empty since 2005.