People Dem Collective cultural centre plans for former Primark building among bids to Margate Town Deal Board

How the centre could look Illustrations by @greenpencil3d

By Jodie Nesling and Kathy Bailes

Plans have been revealed for the former Primark building on Margate seafront – with group People Dem Collective aiming to transform it into a cultural centre.

People Dem Collective is a community organisation based in Margate  which was behind the organisation of two Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Thanet this Summer. The group promotes and campaigns for racial equality.

The group says its aim is to facilitate systemic change, promote healing and continue the work of ancestors with the creation of space, engagement and inclusion for Black, Brown & Diaspora communities.

Illustrations by @greenpencil3d

People Dem Collective is raising funds to support the development of a new national cultural centre planned for the former Primark on Marine Drive. It is one of the proposals that have been submitted to the Margate Town Deal Board.

Co-founder Kelly Abbott  said the aim is to “deliver culturally rich programmes that include identity, heritage, history, hair, music, art and food. The programmes will be for everyone to engage in and learn about the cultural experience of ‘others’ with a focus on British Black and Brown people and Roma/Travellers.”

Illustrations by @greenpencil3d

There will also be enrichment programmes for young people, the LGBTQIA+ and neuro-diverse communities and the older generations to pass down their stories.

The centre will feature a flexible educational space, a Black British and Roma/Traveller archive, a permanent exhibition and performance space, a radio station and podcasting suite, a family-friendly restaurant and beachside cafe, little learners play area and studios for artists-in-residence.

Illustrations by @greenpencil3d

People Dem Collective is working with local partners on a capital bid. A fundraiser, with a target of £30,000 has currently reached just over £23,000. There are four days of the campaign left to run.

Find the fundraiser here

The Primark building went back on the market for £2,750,000 in May.

The former Primark site Photo Carl Hudson

Planning permission was granted to create mixed retail, offices, a bar and restaurant and flats at the site in 2017.

SIR Investments Ltd, which bought the property in 2015 for £600,000 plus £120,000 VAT, was proposing a two-storey roof extension, internal alterations including new stair wells at upper ground floor and first floor level, change of use of existing first floor and use of new second and third floors as residential, comprising 11 duplexes and apartments.

SIR Investments also wanted to create 11 flats and maisonettes at the site, retaining the ground floor for commercial, bar and restaurant use. The canopy on the upper ground floor was to be removed.

Margate Town Deal

Skateparks, pedestrianising streets and rewilding the coastline are just some of the other ideas put forward to be considered as part  of Margate’s Town Deal funding bid.

In September last year, Margate was shortlisted as one of 101 towns in England that could potentially benefit from up to £25million of funding from the introduction of the new Government Towns Fund.

The money is to be used to drive economic development, focusing on urban regeneration, improved transport, better broadband connectivity, skills and culture.

The council has brought together a Board, including representatives from public and private sectors, that is required to develop and submit a Town Investment Plan by the end of October.

The plan needs to focus on urban regeneration; planning and land use; skills and enterprise infrastructure and connectivity.

The Board received a staggering 96 proposals following a public call-out to send their ideas.

Suggestion for toilets at Viking Playground

Proposals put forward including the pedestrianisation of parts of the Old Town and improvements to the Theatre Royal which would create a new Creative Quarter. 

Other schemes include collaborations with smaller groups for strength in numbers. Simon Bell is an Interior Architect and put together The Cliftonville Coastal Project – an  overarching document that features 31 different proposals from a variety of community groups.

Should the scheme be included in the towns  investment plan, a new Coastal Trust may be established to administer the funds. 

Inspiring projects include new waterless toilets and changing rooms at Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, a community skate park at the former Little  Oasis Crazy Skate and improved signage which may inform people about natural habitats and rewilding schemes.

Simon says it was heartening to see so many different groups collaborate to produce an array of inspired proposals . He said. “We have a real chance to create something fantastic along our coastline. Just a small part of this investment would go a very long way here in Cliftonville while dramatically improving the experiences of our community and visitors alike.  

 “I would like to thank ABC,  ARTRA, DSARA, GRASS, Walpole Bay Swimmers and everyone who submitted their plans voluntarily and in their own time.”

Graham Razey OBE

Graham Razey, Chairman of the Margate Town Deal Board says although the proposal process has been slow it will now be all hands on deck in a race to meet the deadline with a strong investment plan. He said: “The slow burn is about to reach a powder keg, as the Board is now set to start unleashing a flurry of activity as we move towards October.”

He added: “So it truly is an exciting time for Margate, and I’d like to rally as many of you who are as passionate about the place as we are, to get behind the Town Deal Board and the project we’re undertaking. Growth and regeneration is about so much more than simply building shiny towers, or investing money and resources. It’s about the people who make the place.”

Cllr Ruth Duckworth,  Cabinet member for Estates and Economic Development, said:  “This is a very exciting time for Margate, with huge opportunities presented through funding from the Towns Fund. The money isn’t guaranteed so we need to prepare the best possible Investment Plan. The more people get involved, the stronger this will be.”


  1. Oh dear oh dear just what a Seafront dos NOT Need, it looks like another cheap pop-up shop that have littered our high streets in recent years. Where do these people find the money to waste on ideological ideas.

    • Well, I for one cannot wait to be ‘culturally enriched’ just like I was watching the BLM looting, stabbing, beating & shooting people earlier in the year & really sticking it to THE MAN by smashing up, robbing & burning down those predominantly non-white owned businesses. I mean who could pass up the chance to learn about black people’s hair & LGBTQIADZYSOMV organisms? Maybe the King & Queen of woke Harry & Meghan could open it for them?

      • Thank you for such a wonderful way with words . Myself and my whole family who have lived here for donkeys years applaud you . We ditto all of that .

    • It is ‘DEM’, short for ‘democratic’. You will find the word ‘DEN’ in any dictionary published in the last few hundred years. For your edification, it is a wild mammals hidden home (also known as a lair). If your dictionary is more than a few hundred years old, I suggest you get straight on the phone to Sothebys as it will be worth a lot of money.

  2. So people would like to throw any available cash away on their pet projects which in some cases will need ongoing funding to survive. Surely the investment should be into providing the basics margate lacks, toilets a well maintained seafront and refurbishment of the theatre royal and wintergardens.
    Create an infrastructure that attracts events and visitors , which impresses enough to want to return. These spaces would also provide somewhere for groups to present their views and aims .

    As for People Dem Collective, seems to me its the new Kids Co. ( Camila Batmangelidjh) and that did’nt turn out too well.

  3. No not another naff shop for locals and visitors to walk past. These type of places then ask for business rate reductions because they think they are a ‘special’ category.

  4. LGBTQIA+? I got LGBT, then Q was added for queer-which apparently is now something different from gay & lesbian, no idea what the newly added I & A represent-are we going for the whole alphabet in this Oppression Olympics?

    No doubt the art crowd will throw money at this inanely titled group pushing their woke agenda, it is of course very popular at the moment to bash Caucasians & have them down on their knees paying tribute to Malcolm X & saying sorry for being born, calling for the police to be dismantled etc.

    Still, since they are so keen on the traveler community they will have no problem housing them at their premises & dealing with the rubbish, human waste & yobbish behaviour-no, didn’t think their virtue signaling went that far.

  5. Local chap. Yes I fully agree the ongoing help these wastes of space so-called projects ask for is reduced council tax and local grants. We then have sob stories in the press about how the mad ideas have failed. NO NO NO.

  6. Have you missed out a few zeros in this article, the building is own by SIR Investments,is on the market for £2,750,000, you say they are trying to raise £30,000 ….dont you mean £3,000,000

      • Surely it would be polite to have a statement from the owners of the property stating that they are onboard with this venture, otherwise this fund raising could be a false claim e.g. we want to raise £30k to transform this building, which we do not won, but here is a statement from SIR Investments etc

    • No doubt they’ll be after the balance from any avaialble public funding source. As for the black power fist picture in athelstan road , is it meant to be some sort of Citizen Smith / Ali G parody. ( i do hope they understand the standard of driving in that road ( have a look at crashmap uk) and are quick on their feet).

  7. How strange that there are now two people called Sam Causer in Margate. Even stranger that one has made several proposals to the Margate Town Deal, and the other one sits on the Board of Margate Town Deal and makes decisions about the what proposals receive funding.

    Because they can’t be the same person, can they????

    • Yes, the article is incorrect, I didn’t submit any proposals, and no, I haven’t been involved in the sifting process either. It was felt that as I helped various people in the community with their submissions and developing ideas, it wouldn’t be appropriate to be involved in the selection. I am happy to answer any questions on this.

  8. Dem… Democratic like the councul
    Ann normal shops struggle with rent and council rates… Still if anything like the two ex British rowers with sands heritage and an offshore leaks investor.. Arrowgrass.

    Change is what a lot of people fear. Bring it on.

  9. What a pity all the applications weren’t put online by the Town Board for the public to see. Some have been dismissed already – but the public are non the wiser. Some groups rejected could even work together in the future, if they knew who each other were!! It’s sad to see lack of transparency at such an early stage, and little interest in pursuing this.

  10. I do hope one of the suggestions to regenerate…improve existing facilities was the Public toilets …a long running saga and a priority to aid all these suggestions put forward and to accommodate local and tourists when visiting these new ventures!!
    Can the local people view all the projects put forward or is it all behind closed doors again.before decisions are made.
    Kathy Bailes…..front page news next week in local paper..

  11. No thank you Margate doesn’t need a woke, snowflakes cultural center on it’s seafront or anywhere else in the town.Mind you knowing how woke Thanet District Council is this stupid idea will probably get it’s full backing along with future grants,basically all you local people with your ideas can do one. BLM.

  12. Why don’t we have an immigration detention center in the now empty showboat amusement arcade?
    Whatever next, a do as you likey site on the harbour arm?

  13. I’d like to see some proactive help for our community, something to help the children, families, the homeless, sick or lonely that will bring people together with something we can all identify with. Not another trendy empty space spouting out Stormy lyrics with expensive coffee! All thrills and no knickers!

  14. Is this a joke ? Margate is / was just about to start gathering momentum with a small glimmer of hope as being recognised by classy DFLs as being a great place to visit. We don’t need a massive venue to understand cultural diversity. All lives matter especially those that don’t crack on every five minutes about being opressed.
    Do us all a favour and jog on … unimpressed,

  15. Just read my way down all the comments, and for the most they are all knocking this venture! Tell, me what harm will this do if it comes about?

  16. I totally agree that the there should be a statement from the owners, what worries me is that the purchase price is £2,750,000 (is there VAT on this?) then there’s the cost of the proposed works, and then there’s the cost of running the centre- who will pay for that ? I agree with the principle but 10,000 square ft is a big area to upkeep, surely there are other small suiltable premises – what about the boarded up shops on the corner of Arlington Sq which have been empty for a number of years?

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