Thanet council will not renew “£1 per year” lease on Margate’s ‘Harbour Arm’

Margate harbour arm (Stone Pier) Photo Jamie Horton

Thanet council is to take back management of Margate’s Stone Pier from February 24 after revealing the lease with current landlord Margate Harbour Arm Ltd  (MHAL) will not be renewed.

MHAL had leased the harbour arm for a nominal £1 per year from 2008 until February 2021. The original lease up to 2018 was extended by an extra three years in 2014. The agreement for the extension was made back in 2011 by then-Cabinet member Roger Latchford as compensation for the loss of income from four parking spaces, required for hard landscaping and improving access to Turner Contemporary.

A row erupted in 2017 after former councillor Ian Driver revealed the £1 rent and questioned the loss to tax payers.

However North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale defended the deal saying MHAL had turned a derelict eyesore into a thriving asset for the town.

An application was originally lodged by Pineapple Property (Kent) Ltd in December 2007 to create a cafe, restaurant, artist studio, art gallery and retail units at the pier. Margate Harbour Arm Ltd was formed in January 2008 as the vehicle to manage the site. Graham Knight is director and Dr Fiona Sherriff was the company secretary.

Renovation and refurbishment work on the site was completed in May 2008. It was funded with a £120,000 grant from the Margate Renewal Partnership and investment from Mr Knight of more than £200,000. The project boosted the growth of bars, galleries and assorted businesses on the harbour arm.

MHAL had sent a proposal to Thanet council in September 2016 pledging more investment – but only if the lease was extended.

Dr Sheriff, who is no longer associated with the company but had previously been involved in negotiations, said the extension had been asked for to give security of tenure so MHAL could invest and also so they could replace the short sub-leases for businesses on the pier with something more substantial.

Margate’s Stone Pier Photo Phil Bay

Dr Sheriff says despite efforts to discuss the 2016 proposal document they received little contact until an email last November saying TDC assumed they no longer wanted the lease. Last week they were informed it would not be renewed.

Dr Sheriff said: “I have no axe to grind, I no longer live in Margate and I’m no longer associated with MHAL but the whole thing has been disgraceful. Last year we basically gave up and assumed Thanet council had something else lined up in the background.”

However, TDC says the decision has been made to manage the seafront asset inhouse and has proposed that new agreements on the same financial terms will be put in place with the existing businesses, meaning traders will not see an increase in rent.

The process is anticipated to take 2-3 months to complete.  In the meantime, the terms of the existing agreements will continue to apply.

The council says it will conduct a thorough review of the facility to ensure a successful and vibrant future for the Margate Harbour Arm.

Thanet council’s finance portfolio holder Rob Yates said: “As a Margate ward councillor I am delighted that the Harbour Arm is coming under TDC control again.

“This decision by the Labour administration should allow further development to take place to improve the toilets and allow our businesses to thrive”


  1. Good – at last. Far from a ‘thriving asset to the town, it’s been a disgrace. Filthy toilets, litter, graffiti and until last year, a disgusting telephone box used as a litter bin and public convenience which took years to remove. Hopefully we can see it now cleaned up and used properly with a variety of local businesses. And do we really need it to be used for parking? Now that the Turner is getting extra space for parking, then it surely these could be removed from the Arm, making it a much safer space for pedestrians to access.

  2. Could we possibly have street food stalls here and maybe pop up entertainment rather like Covent Garden in London? Outdoor art and craft exhibitions and sales too!

  3. Anything to improve those toilets. It is terrible to have food and drink outlets and those appalling toilets.

    Urghg. Many a lovely lunch ruined st the old Be Beached having to use those facilities.

    What is it with Thanet and toilets?!

    • And dog crap on every pavement and beach promenade you walk down, Thanet must have more dog crap on it’s streets than anywhere in the UK. What is it with people that think it is ok to just leave there dog’s mess where it happens like it is someone else’s job to clean it up.

      • I moved from Margate after 59 years of living in Thanet and moved to Colchester Essex But come back to my birth place 5/6 times a year to visit my children and Family. I always knew Thanet was bad for Dog mess and after living in Colchester Britain’s oldest town / City there isn’t that problem here as it is on the scale back in Margate or the rubbish laying around the streets of Thanet i really mean that I’m not running the place down but i was so ashamed after over hearing someone say this place is a S—hole I wanted say something but what could i say i had no argument. its only when you move away you realise how bad it is and i sure i will upset some people by saying this. But saying all this i love coming back I get frustrated that its got so much potential but its been going down for 30 years i grew up there in the 60’s it was back then the flag ship of seaside towns of the UK.

    • Hopefully TDC have been getting the Clocktower toilets repaired and ready for when the lockdown ends. They were warned toilets at this busy point on the seafront were imperative two years ago but did nothing about it and last year didn’t even want to provide portable toilets but were shamed into it. If this is going to be the case again then more shame on them for not getting their priorities right for visitors and residents alike.

  4. I didn’t realise they now have proper safety rails there. Wasn’t there an argument previously that they couldn’t install them as it’s still (in theory) a working harbour?

  5. Let’s hope now that Thanet have taken back control of the harbour arm site they take greater responsibility for its day to day upkeep than previously was the case with the last leaseholder.Remember the red telephone box on the harbour arm site which was filled with detritus and rubbish and was an eyesore but took complaints for more than two years to TDC for them to eventually remove it. Let’s also hope businesses and particularly customers start showing more pride in the place by clearing up their rubbish after themselves. However there can be no excuse for TDC being unable to make a success of this situation.

  6. Ah, so you’re withdrawing from a flawed lease… how about Brett’s at Ramsgate port, the presence of which stifles the huge potential for regeneration here.

    Go forbid TDC would ever propose putting Brett’s on Margate’s harbour arm, but just on the edge of a Royal harbour and adjacent to three designated wildlife reserves?! Guess that still fine then.

    Good luck Margate with TDC (mis-) management of this. 😢

    • Matador, I feel your pain. The Brett’s situation is a disgrace. TDC are the worst council ever, ruled by useless officers at the top, unfortunately, who live out of Thanet.

  7. It was my favourite place to go but it’s ruined by people fishing off it, dog poop, glass, fishing line and hooks, vandalism, also when people are fishing you don’t feel welcome walking along 8t, they’re often roudy, drunk and look at you like you are in their way!! With mates who are bored so smash up whatever they can, or mess with the rescue floats, and dogs that are tied up all day whilst their fishing, so poop everywhere, 1 bin, 1 toilet, the bars and pubs don’t have their own facilities! And the guys commercially fishing have nothing, no wonder there’s only 2 of them!! It could be thriving, but no… It’s crap

  8. Well done TDC great news let’s hope this is just one of Thanet’s assets that is brought back ‘In House’s. Perhaps Margate Theatres and Beach Huts may follow? Let’s hope

    • Yes – just like the toilets, the Tudor House, Margate Museum and many more – neglected and eventually sold off

  9. You just know that those businesses will now face over priced unavordable rents and rates, and have to close, which will then turn the harbour arms into every other sight seeing spot, a derilect boarded up eyesore!

  10. Prior to the involvement of the harbour arm company, the harbour was bleak, barren, dismal and uninspiring a bit like our local councillors.

    Imagine what tdc are likely to bring to the game, let’s just remind ourselves that our council have spent more money in recent times on gagging orders than they have fixing the toilets on the main beach by the clock tower.

    If they cannot provide minimum hygienic toilet facilities to residents and visitors, what are they going to do with the harbour?

  11. TDC really need to ensure they are getting value for money on all the property they lease out, consideration to sell property should not be immediately dismissed.
    Also value for money on those it employs.
    Please refuse the idea of using your local council tax payers as guarantors with pockets to pick.

    Ramsgate port has been mentioned, it’s a prime site but then there is the brett on the landscape.
    Just sell the site to brett’s and see what you TDC could have done.

    The recent feasibility study at ramsgate commercial berths is in tdc circulation, cost over £40k so we expect some result not another feasibility study.

    Remember for a few years to come we are living in a covid19 environment, so rip up your past ideas,sack stuck in the sand employees and prepare for a decade under covid19.

    You know you should !

  12. I guess that’s another win for the atrocity exhibition who will add it to their grand parade so they can carry on in ignorance and ignore the total deterioration beyond the beach as they mask all our towns here in Thanet in their apocalypse behind their little nuclear annihilation and call it rejuvenation while concentrating only on Margate’s seafront as per usual.

  13. I don’t know if this is good news or bad news, but please overhaul the toilets on the harbour arm they are genuinely outrageously putrid.


  14. Not sure I would trust TDC with resolving the toilets on the Harbour Arm, as they closed and sold many others on the seafront. Before the private company took over, TDC had managed to do nothing with the Harbour Arm, so here is hoping they do better now.

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