Plans for a 120-bed hotel, new stands, restaurant, café, club shop and car parking have been deferred for approval by council planning officers subject to consultation with the Secretary of State due to an objection from Sport England.
Sport England’s objections are based on the loss of open space with the extension of car parking taking a plot of land at Tivoli Park. The organisation says it would remove the objection if the car park extension does not include the open space or arrangements are made to replace the loss of playing area.
The organisation also questioned the planting of trees at the park outside the club’s boundary. However, the planting was carried out by Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative under agreement from Thanet council and the football club. The planting is outside of the application site.
Thanet council planning officer Iain Livingstone told councillors last night (March 17) that the plot is under the ownership of the football club following the sale of the freehold by the council and had been included in expansion plans for more than 16 years. He added that permission had been granted for the car park in previous applications which date as far back as 2002 and this permission is still live.
Margate Football Club’s application has been developed with hotel partner IHG Hotels and the brand Holiday Inn Express to reflect increased demand for hotel rooms in Thanet.
The East Block will be used for a 120-bedroom hotel together with restaurant and bar facilities. The building will also include space for MFC club offices and a club shop together with the stadium control room. The stand will be all-seater and have a capacity of 650.
The North Stand will be a terrace with a capacity of 1,300 and behind this and integrated into it, there will also be space for first team home and away changing facilities, together with ancillary spaces associated with the first team. On the ground floor, there will be several studio spaces for sports and associated activities. On the first floor there will be a café/bar facility which overlooks the pitch.
The car park will be extended to provide 104 parking spaces and will provide access to all of the East Block offices, shop and hotel. The North End turnstiles will be renewed and relocated into
Plans for a hotel development at the Hartsdown site were originally granted in 2012.
The initial scheme was for a football stadium, an 80 bed hotel, fitness club, children’s club, children’s play area, theme bar, conference and banqueting suites, hospitality boxes, admin offices, boardroom, 10 five a sides and one full size all weather pitch and associated parking and landscaping.
The current plan rearranges the internal space of the hotel to expand the rooms to 120.
Developer contributions secured from Margate FC include £12,338.16 towards the Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM) plan to offset the potential impact on protected birds at European designated sites from increased visitors from the district to these areas.
The club has also been advised to contact Kent Police with regard to crime and crime prevention within the site.
Members of the committee backed the plans, citing a boost to tourism and employment. Thanet Green councillor Mike Garner objected to the proposal over concerns of the loss of playing field and traffic access.
Thanet council is now required to consult the Secretary of State over the Sport England objection. If this is not called in then council officers will give approval for the plans. If it is called in the decision will be made by the Secretary of State.
A social media statement from Margate FC says: “We are delighted planning permission for Hartsdown Park redevelopment has been agreed, subject to Secretary of State approval.
The Secretary of State’s review of Sport England objections should be dealt with in the next 21 days.”