Fifteen flats planned for part of Bugsy’s bowling centre site in Cliftonville

Bugsy's will continue to trade but part of the space will be used for flats

Part of a Cliftonville bowling centre will be demolished to make way for flats if Thanet council grants planning permission.

An application has been submitted to knock down the former snooker and pool area of Bugsy’s bowling centre in Ethelbert Crescent.

In a planning statement architect Anthony Swaine says a significant loss of demand means the tables have now been disposed of and the space is unused.

Applicant G E Bowra Group Ltd says further leisure uses are economically  unviable  and housing is a better use of the space.

The application asks for permission to create four self-contained three bedroom apartments and 11  self-contained two bedroom apartments.

The existing bowling alley, arcade and Olympia cafe will remain and continue to trade.

The centre once housed twelve 10- pin bowling lanes in the area being proposed for flats. Due to a reduction in demand these lanes became redundant several years ago and were removed. The area was then used for snooker and American pool. In 2009 due to falling demand the number of tables was reduced. They have now been disposed of altogether.

The planning report states leisure use is uneconomic and will cause disturbance, stating: “The leisure use of this area for snooker and pool is now uneconomic to run as a business. Consequently, this area of the bowling alley is now redundant leisure space.

“To continue using this area as a leisure facility would require either a proposed leisure use for the existing snooker/pool area that is both compatible with the Bowling Centre and economically viable. This is unlikely, given the recent history of use or a leisure use that would require the snooker/pool area to become self-contained. This would require its own access and egress, and physical isolation from the existing Bowling Alley.

“This would almost certainly require an access from Edgar Road. There is a high probability of potential disturbance to the Edgar Road residential neighbourhood were Edgar Road to be used. A development of this type in this location is also unlikely to be economically viable.”

As the Edgar Road area is already residential, the owner says this is considered to be the best option for the bowling alley space.

The building sits in the Clifftop Conservation Area and the plan is to create a building sympathetic to the 1960’s design of Cliftonville Court. It sits close to the former Frank’s nightclub which has been newly renovated as a restaurant.

It is proposed to provide five car parking spaces on site. The remaining 10 car spaces would be accommodated in the neighbourhood.

The planning application was validated by Thanet council on January 15. A decision is yet to be made.

A rich history

The 1960s cluster of buildings were created on the site of the grand Cliftonville Hotel. The main hotel building was six storeys, including a basement storey and an attic storey. The area behind the hotel, sandwiched between Dalby Square and Edgar Road, was used as gardens. At the front, facing the sea, a grand covered terrace spilled out onto the street.

The hotel had enjoyed great success from its opening in 1868 up until the 1920s.

In 1929, it was no longer as popular and the council considered buying it for municipal offices. The hotel’s popularity diminished further during the Depression and the building was requisitioned during the Second World War.

At the end of the war the hotel reopened but to little success. It was sold to a new owner and turned into flats, though it was still not profitable.

All change after fire

After a fire in 1952, the building was demolished and the site used as a car park until 1961.

In November 1961 plans were announced for an eight-storey building on the site, including a new hotel, 40 flats, a cafe, filling station, car park and bowling alley. What was actually built and opened in 1964 was more modest than the early plans, with 12 flats. The bowling alley, Franks pub/nightclub, car park and filling station were also built.

The filling station became a cafe and amusement arcade in the 1980s and the nightclub closed in 2008/09.

The bowling centre, Bugsy’s, continues to trade and is run by a Thanet family.


  1. Good idea. Something for the rubber dinghy’s to aim for.
    Unless they are to be “upmarket” apartments more flats is not what Cliftonville needs.

    • They will certainly not be aiming at a local market . No outside space,not even balconies, no reserved parking and prices starting at £177500 for 2 bedroom flat . Planning application F/TH/18/1717 is open for comment, for all the good it may do.

  2. This fantastic location is ideal for quality apartments for the rental market which is a growing sector. Balconies, durable maintenance free finishes, embellishments. Bring people with money to spend into the town then everyone will benefit.

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