Margate to receive £22m Town Deal funding

Margate Photo Frank Leppard

Margate is set to receive up to £22.2million of funding following the Government’s Town Deal programme announcement in the Chancellor’s Budget yesterday (Wednesday 3 March).

The funding was awarded after Thanet District Council – working with a dedicated Town Deal Board made up of Chairman Graham Razey OBE, the Cabinet Member for Economic Development, MP Sir Roger Gale, senior figures from business, education, the voluntary sector and members of the council’s management team – submitted its Town Investment Plan to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in December 2020.

The Plan outlined a string of interlinked investments around four key themes:

Scaling Margate’s Creative Production and Skills sector

Investment in Coastal Wellbeing

Investment in Public Realm and Connections

Investment in Supporting and Diversifying Heritage Assets

Thanet council leader Rick Everitt said: “I am delighted that Margate has been awarded up to £22.2m to support ambitious plans to reinvigorate the town centre economy, boost local skills and level up our visitor economy. This substantial investment is testament to the collective hard work and innovative thinking that went into the Bid and I’d like to thank everyone who contributed.

“The Towns Deal funding will not only provide a much needed economic boost as we recover from COVID-19 but also provide opportunities for each and every member of our community. I firmly believe that, by working together, this will provide a lasting legacy and make Margate a better and brighter place for residents, businesses and visitors.”

Margate was one of 101 places given the opportunity 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.

Graham Razey, Chair of the Margate Town Deal Board, added: “Today is a day for real celebration in Margate, as the Chancellor’s announcement means that we can now begin the real work to help create the even more thriving town which this community deserves.

“I’m immensely proud to have been able to work with community partners and business stakeholders to deliver a Town Investment Plan that has resulted in this Government funding, and greatly look forward to seeing the projects get delivered in the coming months and years.

“Margate is a genuinely fantastic and amazing place, and this investment will help to translate that into a town that is able to keep growing and flourishing for the community’s future.”

Jonathan Pearson, Member of the Margate Town Deal People’s Panel, added: “Margate is a very special place with a rich history, wonderful coastline and completely unique heritage assets. This funding will help the town realise its full potential, support residents and ensure it continues to be an exciting place to live and visit.

“We look forward to working with the Board as we move into the next stage of business case development and creating something that the people of Margate can be proud of.”

Next steps

The Government is expecting signed Heads of Terms by Wednesday 24 March, paving the way for the next stage which is to develop detailed business cases for selected projects in the Town Investment Plan (TIP). This process could take up to 12 months.

The funding will then be spent over a five-year period, steered by the Margate Town Deal Board. The overall programme is managed by Thanet District Council as the lead accountable body.

For more information about the Margate Town Deal, go to the website. Here you will find a summary video of the TIP, FAQs, and a full report outlining the feedback, suggestions and ideas from the community which helped to shape our Plan to drive economic regeneration.

The projects put forward to 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

The Dreamland Cinema is now owned by Sands Heritage Ltd following a £7million purchse of the amusement park and neighbouring car park.

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

£29 million plan for Margate investment submitted to government