Clearance at former Holly Tree pub site prepares for 38 home and micropub development

Holly Tree pub site being cleared Photo Jamie Horton

Clearance of the remains of the fire hit Holly Tree pub debris in Cliftonville is underway.

The pub was destroyed by the blaze that ripped through the property in 2017.

An application by Kentish Projects to build 41 flats, three houses and a micro pub at the site was rejected in January last year.

However, in July 2019 a proposal for a part three, part four storey building of 35 flats and a micro-pub, plus three detached homes was given approval, with conditions, on appeal.

Photo Jamie Horton

Proposals included a scaling back in of units from 42 to 38 and increased parking provision from 18 to 34 spaces plus changes to create landscaped frontage and ‘setting-back’ from Northdown Road -particularly at the corner with Holly Lane.

Appeal documents state the development will contain 30% affordable housing and “would provide a stimulus for further regeneration within the area, particularly given that the application site occupies a ‘gateway’ position into Margate and Cliftonville.”

Homes and micropub proposal

The document adds: “The problems of delivery of housing in Thanet is a particular issue acknowledged recently by the Secretary of State which this statement represents a further material consideration.

“The mismatch between housing need and delivery is of greater significance in Thanet where scheme viability is critical and meeting policy requirements of 30% affordable housing provision as well as other infrastructure contributions and in the case redeveloping a brownfield site must be balanced against lower than average sales values relative to the rest of Kent.”

Thanet council says permission was refused due to the scale of the build being “visually dominant, obtrusive and incongruous,” and failure to enter into a legal agreement to secure affordable housing – now rectified – as well as “increased recreational pressure on the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay Special Protection Area (SPA), and Sandwich Bay and Hacklinge Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).”

Photo Frank Leppard

On appeal the Planning Inspectorate concluded the “building would not have a material adverse effect on the character and appearance of the area,” and imposed several conditions including the need to to limit the servicing hours for the micro-pub.

Suggested developer contributions are 30% affordable housing, £1,824.76 towards the additional bookstock for Cliftonville library, £ 11, 728 towards the Special Protection Area and£28,872 towards the extension of The Limes Surgery, Margate.

Photo by Roy Goldhawk

The Holly Tree shut its doors in 2016, never fully getting back up to strength after a blaze in 2014 started in the kitchen and ripped through the building.

The pub, formerly Ye Olde Charles, was built in 1926 by Russell’s Brewery of Gravesend. A typical 1920s roadside inn, it was aimed at motorists visiting nearby Margate. It was named after local architect, Charles Reeve.

During World War II Ye Old Charles was used by pilots and ground crew of RAF Manston.

It is said that actor John LeMesurier used to drink in the pub when he was seeing Carry On actress Hatty Jacques, who used to live in Laleham Close.

In 2013 Ye Olde Charles became The Holly Tree until it shut for good in 2016. In April 2017 a fire ripped through the building.

Fire at The Holly Tree pub Photo Frank Leppard

Some 20 firefighters and six engines, including the specialist height vehicle, were used to tackle the blaze which was finally brought under control after some four hours.

The property was so badly damaged that DDS Demolition were on site in the early evening to take down some of the parts of the structure which had become dangerous.