An Arlington House resident has slammed the building’s leaseholder Freshwater and site owner Thanet council over a lack of interest in preserving the well-known Only Fools and Horses mural, which he says has been removed from the Arlington Square entrance and “left, broken, on the floor of the square.”
Karl Jastrzebski has also branded the covering up of a ‘Welcome to Marghetto’ mural on the empty shop fronts in All Saint’s Avenue a “bitter irony.”
The self-employed gardener, who has owned a flat in the seafront block for almost five years, says Freshwater complained about the Marghetto painting – which sat alongside art created by Margate Festival, People Dem Collective and Ramsgate Arts Primary – saying the company had not given consent for it. The art was then covered over.
The shop front murals were created by the seven to 10-year-old pupils as part of a legacy project celebrating black culture, led by local artist Ben Connors and People Dem Collective. The Marghetto painting was independent of that project and had not been given permission. Several residents contacted The Isle of Thanet News to complain about the painting and others contacted their ward councillor.
The Only Fools and Horses mural – featuring Del Boy, Rodney, ‘Uncle Albert’ and Trigger – was created in early 2016 by street artist Darkisseddayze – and is a nod to the filming of the Jolly Boys’ Outing episode in the town in 1989.
Karl, 63, (pictured above) says it is ironic that artwork has covered up a site and shop fronts that have become a “derelict eyesore” during the time Freshwater has held the lease.
He added: “The ‘Only Fools and Horses’ mural on the Arlington Square boundary site was taken down because Freshwater wanted to get a crane onto their site and they never reinstated it.
“This artwork formed an important part of the Dreamland historical street mural coinciding with the redevelopment of the amusement park. Safeguarding this appeared to be of no interest to Freshwater nor to the council, despite its cultural and heritage significance. It was left, broken, on the floor of the square and cannot now be replaced.
“The Arlington Square site has been derelict for decades, left to rot and become an unacceptable eyesore on the landscape.
“Freshwater focussed concerns over the Welcome 2 Marghetto (sign)- but isn’t Freshwater the chief architect of the very dereliction that it seems the artists were keen to depict?”
Karl, 63, questions whether Freshwater’s owner, billionaire Benzion Freshwater, would like his family to have to walk past the derelict shops every day and says he should repay the town for being allowed to lease the brutalist towerblock at a peppercorn rent.
He added: “We all understand that Thanet council should be responsible and accountable to the local community they serve but all too often it “appears” they are not .After all residents are council tax payers.
“Freshwater as head leaseholder is also responsible for the site, but it appears in reality they are totally unaccountable to anyone including TDC.”
A spokesman for Highdorn, a Freshwater property management company, said: “The Only Fools and Horses mural was removed to allow access for equipment to carry out works to the aerials on the roof.
“The (shopfront) mural along with the others on the hoardings is part of a project commissioned by the Margate Festival to produce designs. This work has been delayed due to Covid, but we are hoping they will be able to progress it soon and the residents of the building will be asked for their input.
“No permission has been given for the artwork yet.
“There is no plan to reopen the shops at the moment. The company is still deciding what to do with these in the long term and will advise in due course.”
The spokesman added that they “didn’t think” the Jolly Boys’ mural had remained intact but would check. Ward councillor Rob Yates said it may still be in one piece and he would investigate.
Thanet council says no complaints were received and the authority was not responsible for giving permission, nor any subsequent cover up, of the Marghetto mural.
In its prime
When Arlington House and the shopping arcade was first completed in 1964 the site was advertised as “Britain’s first ‘park and buy’ shopping centre with luxury flats,” and marked the beginning of Margate’s redevelopment.
Arlington was designed by Russell Diplock Associates and built by Bernard Sunley and Sons, Originally the site was made up of 52 shops, a pub, a supermarket, a coach station, a filling station, a multi-storey car park and the 18-storey, 142-flat block.
Arlington Square shopping arcade, and stores on All Saints Avenue and Marine Terrace, sat alongside parking for 500 vehicles and petrol filling and taxi rank facilities.
The shops moved from the arcade many years ago, the last being the famous Joke Shop and the Bong Shop which moved into the town in around 2011.
Plans for a Tesco superstore at the site, which were vehemently opposed by residents, were ditched in 2014 due to trading conditions.
In 2016 demolition workers were on-site and the iconic arch of the arcade entrance removed.
In 2018 Arrowgrass, which pumped £25 million into the refurbishment of Dreamland, was looking at “significant” investment in the site as part of a masterplan for Dreamland and Arlington.
However, Arrowgrass Capital Partners made the decision to shut down its master fund in 2019 after a slump in capital and requests from investors to withdraw funds.
It is believed Arrowgrass could sell off current loans made to the park to another hedgefund.
It’s high time Arlington House & area were declared derelict and unsafe. The whole thing needs to go.
Me too. Its all one big EYESORE.
Have to disagree, it’s an iconic building ,that should be one of thanets premier addresses, that needs the freeholder to ensure that the leaseholder maintains the building as it should. Of course as its TDC nothing of the like will happen.
Totally agree, such an eyesore. Margate could be such a great place if money was thrown at it making it more inviting to holidaymakers which would in turn would generate more revenue for the town. More needs to be made of our lovely Kent Coastal towns instead of leaving them to ‘rot’. Nobody wants to see that when visiting. We need to draw people in instead of driving them away
Bulldoze the site and redevelop it. What a bloody mess as the first image you get after arriving in Margate.
It was a 5G antenna they were erecting on the top of the tower block for extra income for freshwater. Was planning permission sought?
Someone hasn’t kept up to date with planning law…
Is this really better than the Tesco superstore that (some) locals spent so much effort objecting to?
Agree with others, the whole site should be demolished – including the crumbling and filthy towerblock!
In answer to your first question – ignoring that it’s the broken record from you as always – yes much better. If you read the article correctly it’s about how billionaire landowners are ripping the town off not about Tesco’s – move on!
Glad to say I live nowhere near this squalor now (and will move even further from it in the very near future). But feel free to carry on enjoying it.
Easier for you to snipe from the sidelines isn’t it, Peter? Do you always waste your time and effort moaning about things that don’t affect you, in areas you no longer live? Or are you just making a martyr of yourself for your own ego?
It DID affect me for almost 20 years when I lived 3 minutes walk away… but, I CARE about Margate, and therefore (like everyone else here) criticise the things I find wrong and praise those that I believe are doing the right thing.
What’s YOUR opinion Mr Mouse? Or do you just spend your time criticising those that you disagree with… anonymously of course.
Have a great day!
I expect we’re all glad – on this site – you’re moving further away.
Arlington house is actually built with white marble. In the 1960s it looked much better than it does now. Unfortunately nearly 60 years of grime have built up on the building and it looks like a cheap concrete construction. It’s high time the whole thing was either demolished or cleaned and restored including updating the windows.
I lived on the top floor at the sea end facing Dreamland from 1966 to 1969 and it was a great place to live then, it was clean and well looked after by a caretaker. The shopping plaza was unoccupied then apart from the seafront units. It was handy to cut through the arcade to the side door of the flats rather than walking round. It’s a shame it’s been allowed to deteriorate to the state I see in these photos.
Exactly. The whole shopping arcade idea was NEVER a great success, despite what some of the DFL’s believe.
Arlington House would look terrific if it were restored to its original state, as Rabbie says. But the surrounding shops don’t enhance it now and perhaps didn’t in the 60s.
Wonders do occur , for once i whole heartedly agree with your entire comment
The whole complex is an eysore and out of character for the seafront – level the lot, including the flats and build something more appropriate and pleasing on the eye.
Willy ou be willing to pay more council tax when the residents have to be rehomed via a CPO?
Perhaps some of the residents of Arlington House could comment here and let us know if they like living there. Demolition of 100+ flats (what percentage is empty?)just because some people don’t like the look of the building should never be considered.
I love living in the block. The people in the block are in the main great it is a community in the sky, made up of individuals from all walks of life. Like many blocks of its era with investment it can look good again . In London living in these style of blocks is very sought after, reference ,Trellick Tower, the Brunswick centre, Balfron tower to name but a few and nearer to home south cliff towers in Eastbourne.The difficulties that do arise all lead back to a negligent head lease holder Freshwater and a freeholder (owner )of the land TDC who for decades have allowed the site to become more and more derelict, with total disrespect to its local residents .
The Arlington square concept whilst a brilliant idea at the time sadly but regrettably may have had its day as investment is never going to come from Freshwater and any new investor particularly if a hedge fund or capital speculator are likely to only be interested in their own short term goals , with little interest in the long term benefits of the town.
Roman 1234, what was your opinion on Tesco at Arlington?
All the usual “knock it down” critics come out of the woodwork with their sweeping statements.
On a more practical point of view – where do they think TDC going to get the money to compulsory purchase 100+ flats ? Who is going to pay for the demolition ?
The problems of neglect of the whole of the site rest jointly with TDC and Freshwater. TDC turns a blind eye as both freeholder and local authority. Freshwater sits on a long lease land asset with A1 planning consent and outline consent for a hotel so the site is increasing value as time goes by with a ground rent of merely £7,500 pa. Freshwater os laughing all the way to the bank . . .
It seems to me that one of the main points of the article is that Freshwater have allowed the site to become an eyesore . However enlightening and positive the school /black lives matter art initiative is note it is not the billionaire landlord who is funding the art work which attempts to disguise the abandoned nature of the shop fronts ,this is being paid for out of public funds your money and includes TDC and Kent County Council.and the national lottery among other funding bodies . This is the scandal .
It is a disgrace that coming out of the train station walking along the sea front this derelict site is what visitors and locals are confronted by every day. Welcome 2Marghetto is absolutely right. We know Freshwater have no shame as evidenced by the manner they have also presided over the needless running down of Arlington House..
Yes the whole site needs redeveloping but Arlington House is here to stay. Even though AH and it’s location is incongruous for many, for those fortunate to live there the views are spectacular. The exterior of the building is in fact made of concrete inset with polished flint this explains why even today it still glistens through the dirty exterior in certain light. If pressure washed it would look beautiful again . Interest in Brutalist buildings has returned so it is likely Arlington House is here to stay so with some imagination it could be the focal point of any redevelopment plan .
For how much longer are the council and local residents going to turn a blind eye – or succumb to the profit of short-term gain – not to notice how the town is being ripped off time and time again. When is the work going to start on the hotel in the Godden gap as promised in last year’s planning application as just one example? The article is about the head leaseholder of the Arlington Site leaving it abandoned – in fact they have probably never even visited. Who allowed them to take down, dump and leave to rot, what was in fact part of a mural depicting Margate’s history which had even survived the epidemic of tagging/graffiti over the years, in order to access their own site. So TDC have just ignored this? It seems so. Would be good if for once they did their job, fined their tenant and demanded that this part of Margate’s sea front was replaced at Freshwater’s own expense.
I lived on Arlington house for two years, it was my partner and I’s first flat together in our teens, were now approaching our 50’s, and still live in Margate, we have great memories of that time, but to watch the areas slow demise into a complete craphole is heart breaking, embarrassing to be the first thing you see as you enter the sea front area… Without doubt Arlington house needs massive investment to try and make it look anything other than an ugly eyesore, and the whole area around it needs demolition, and modernising in an artdeco style to match in and complement dreamlands beautiful entrance… Unless done soon I fear it will continue to get worse beyond repair… Just to look at the whole site, and how it’s been allowed to get in such a state is a disgrace to all involved!!
Peter I don’t think A huge Tesco on such a prime seaside location was a good idea then and as proven not now either. Ridiculous as it might seem some sort of Eden sustainability type project might work as a successful tourist attraction if the present Covid. Crisis subsides.