£29 million plan for Margate investment submitted to government

Investment plan for Margate Photo Stephen Todd

A ten-year ‘Town Investment Plan’ for Margate has been submitted to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Plan identifies £29million of investments to transform the town and attract future investment. Included in those plans are improvements for Theatre Royal and associated Hawley Square property and improvements for Walpole Bay tidal pool, Oval Bandstand, Newgate Gap and skatepark and playground areas.

Money is also earmarked for refurbishing the Dreamland Cinema and Sunshine Cafe complex, supporting the People Dem Collective bid to create a cultural centre at the former Primark building and overhauling Margate Winter Gardens.

The successful projects link across four themes:

A £9m investment in Margate’s Creative Production and Skills 

Theatre Royal Margate

This involves establishing a Creative Land Trust to support projects stretching from the high street to the Theatre Royal, for creative production and education. The investment aims to support and safeguard the creative sector and focus on innovation and job growth. Investment will create a new linked route through the town centre from the coast to the historic Hawley Square.

This potentially includes the former M&S, Primark buildings and the Theatre Royal, which will be transformed to create new jobs and education opportunities.

Establish and Capitalise Creative Land Trust – £3.1m

Refurbishment of buildings for workspace and education – £2.9m

Improve Theatre Royal and Hawley Square – £2m

Development of new forms of outreach, engagement, and education – £500,000

Business Equity fund for growth enterprises – £500,000

A £6.5m investment in Coastal Wellbeing

Walpole Bay Photo Clive Hart

This focuses on supporting a series of capital investments for wellbeing across the whole Margate coastline and creating new experiences for visitors. It builds on its ‘heyday’ as a popular centre for wellbeing and tourism. Creating better links between the town centre, Northdown Road and the coastline and an improved network of connections between assets beyond the ‘tourist trail’ are planned.

Improved facilities and access to the coastline at the Walpole tidal pool area and surrounds – £1.8m

Improved coastal environment including upper promenade, Newgate Gap, Oval Bandstand  and lawns, skatepark and
playground area – £3.7m

Testing new uses, participation and skills programme – £1m

A £4.5m investment in Public Realm and Connections

Cecil Square

Investment in better connections and routes through the town centre to capitalise on heritage assets. Improving public realm and connections to encourage active travel and links throughout the town. A particular focus is to better connect Northdown Road to the town centre and with the coastline with attractive public realm, cycling and walking infrastructure.

Town centre improvements to include improved public realm on the High Street and better links to Queen Street
junction, Cecil Square, Bilton Square, open up Andrews Passage, Town Centre toilets and feasibility study for Marine
Drive – £2.9m

Improved active travel options and connections along Northdown Road to the Town Centre and from Northdown
Road to the coastline – £1.6m

A £9m investment in Supporting and Diversifying Heritage Assets 

The former Sunshine Cafe site in the Dreamland cinema building

This is about developing high impact and surprising activities around the Dreamland Cinema Complex and the Winter Gardens to support footfall and income.

Redevelop the Dreamland Cinema to include building refurbishment and asbestos removal, Sunshine Cafe
and ground floor seafront fit out, support curation of cultural centre by People Dem Collective, support planning
and design work – £4m

Refurbish Winter Gardens to improve environmental performance through heating refurbishments, support
inclusive access through improved and accessible facilities and support a greater diversity of uses through repair
and decoration – £4m

Undertake feasibility studies for longer-term options – £1m

The Town Deal

Margate was one of 101 places given the opportunity last year to bid for funding of up to £25 million as part of the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund. The fund aims to support urban regeneration, skills development and improved connectivity by giving each place its own Town Deal.

The money is not guaranteed and the first stage of the Town Deal is to have a Town Investment Plan

The plan was created after asking people living, working and visiting Margate about their vision and priorities for the town. An online survey was launched with 682 respondents, 233 people took part in engagement events, more than 30,000 people were reached on social media and there were over 2,000 website views.

A People’s Panel was also established with a representative group of 50 people living in Margate work alongside the Board for the lifetime of the project.

A project call out; detailed data and information about the town, its community and visitor has been used for the Town Investment Plan setting out Margate’s ambitions, opportunities and challenges.

The £29m application to the Towns Fund includes aims to address the social and economic challenges that the town has faced, to ‘level up’ the economy and to create jobs.

All of the projects included in the Plan came from an open call to the community for proposals that met the Government’s criteria and would deliver the maximum positive impact for the town’s economic future. The proposals were considered and then reviewed by the People’s Panel.

Graham Razey OBE

Graham Razey, Chair of the Margate Town Deal Board, which comprises representatives from public, private and voluntary organisations and was created to bring the funding bid together, said: “There’s real optimism for Margate’s future. We believe we have an exceptional and compelling case for investment and that’s why we’re targeting £29m.

“I am delighted that so many people and businesses have got involved to help shape our bid and create a Margate that works for everyone. It has been a privilege to listen to the community’s views and ideas on ‘coming together to help Margate thrive 365’.

“With all of these views in mind, we are asking the Government to support a range of targeted investments across four project areas. It is clear that people see the benefits of scaling creative production and skills; coastal wellbeing; improving the public realm and our heritage assets.”

What happens next?

It is expected the Government will take several months to respond. If Heads of Terms are agreed, the Board will have up to 12 months to complete comprehensive business cases for selected projects.

During this project development phase, the Board will continue to work closely with local partners, stakeholders and the People’s Panel, as well as key national organisations and funding partners such as Historic England, Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Cllr Ruth Duckworth, Cabinet member for Estates and Economic Development at Thanet District Council, said: “The people of Margate have come forward with their time, ideas and enthusiasm. Their ideas, which have been incorporated into the Town Investment Plan, have given the process a tremendous boost.

“This is a once-in-a generation opportunity for the town and Margate deserves to be successful with its submission. This Plan has the potential to put us on the map, both nationally and internationally, at the same time as improving the quality of life for those who live here.”

View the Margate Town Investment Plan and explainer video here

The 38 projects shortlisted for Margate Town Deal funding