Future of Granville Theatre in Ramsgate due to be decided

Granville theatre and cinema Photo Frank Leppard

The future of Ramsgate’s Granville Theatre will be discussed by Thanet councillors next week with options to transfer the site as a community asset; get in a new operator on a new lease or sell it on the open market.

The council owns the freehold of the building, which is also used as a cinema but the site has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March last year.

The Granville is the town’s only multi-purpose entertainment venue. It takes its name from The Granville Hotel. The building was leased from Thanet District Council by Granville Theatre Ltd, made up of local shareholders who invested money to keep the venue going.

The group of more than 30 members, who raised some £135,000, was founded by residents including Ralph Hoult -who leads Starlite Entertainers – and Philip Shaw who was also the general manager.

The theatre’s patron is actress Brenda Blethyn. The building was listed as an asset of community value in 2019.

A report to Thanet council Cabinet members about the two screen cinema/theatre building, which was built circa 1947, was let in 1998 on a 20-year full repairing and insuring lease at a rent of £10,000 pa which expired in 2017.

Since then the tenant held over under the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. The original rent was set on the basis that the tenants refurbished the building to create two auditoria at a cost of approximately £160K. The tenant also received grant aid from council, which covered rent for the first 5 years but other repairs to the building were left unfinished.

The lease was subsequently assigned to Granville Theatre Ltd (GTL).

Some £300k worth of repairs are currently needed on the building including a replacement roof  Thanet council took formal possession of the building in June.

The report to councillors says the property and land has been fully appraised and is considered suitable for disposal via freehold transfer or lease.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve either:

  •  A Community Asset Transfer with restrictive covenants to allow for public use in perpetuity retaining the main use as cinema/theatre and arts and cultural events. Community Groups applying will need to provide evidence of existing funds in excess of £300,000 to ensure the necessary works for the building are carried out. If a viable arts and cultural community bid is not received within 6 weeks, then a further marking period of 6 weeks will allow all other qualifying community groups to be considered. If the combined 12 weeks of marketing fail to deliver a viable bid, then the theatre will go up for sale on the open market.
  • Option 2 would be to secure a new lease and operator for the building although significant funding would be required to repair and refurbish the property to make it compliant.
  • Option 3 would be for an open market disposal. As the property is listed as an asset of community value the disposal will have to allow for a potential 6 months moratorium period.

Ramsgate charity Kent Film Foundation is hoping to take on the building and create a stunning new centre which will include workshop space, cinema, theatre, a bee-friendly roof terrace, the town’s first organic restaurant – and a new name.

The foundation has been in active pursuit of the building since registering interest in it as a Community Asset Transfer in spring 2017 after losing their bid for the old Ice House.

The Granville Theatre future will be discussed at the Cabinet members meeting on July 29.

Kent Film Foundation reveals ambitious ‘green’ proposals for Granville Theatre building

24 Comments

  1. My personal concern is that it will go the same way as the Pavilion in Westgate on Sea.

    An individual will buy it at an economical price stating that it is has been purchased for a community asset. The building will remain closed whilst some internal works are carried out. The owner will approach TDC for a grant who has no money. Hence the building will be left to deteriorate even further.

    Potentially the difference could be. Westgate Pavilion was purchased by an individual as “Community Asset” The owner who’s Son and Daughter in Law run a school of English would have used the building for student education during the day and social activities in the evenings from June – October.

    This means that for four months of the year when Shows, Dances etc could not be carried out this being when the building would attract visitors to make the building viable. Instead the building could only be used when residents do not venture out so much during the winter months.

    My answer therefore is do not let an individual purchase the building. Get a group of similar minder people together forming a management team. Lease the building at a peppercorn rent after all structural and roof repairs have been carried out by the freeholder.

    Since Westgate Pavilion was purchased for an undisclosed sum the building has been empt for at least 2 years. So much for a community asset The hand of God will not save the building therefore the grasping hand of residents money will be called upon again instead for the benefit of an individual

  2. The theatre should be demolished and a restaurant put in its place. It’s too old too expensive to run too expensive to repair and has fleas.

  3. When did you last go there Peter? Joris you sound like that other idiot with a similar name.
    The Granville is a dump. Been neglected for far too long.

  4. Theatres were all the rage….before TV, Netflix and on line streaming of entertainment.

    Sell it off in an open market auction with PP in place for a restaurant, bar and / or cafe venue – with the option to remain a theatre if the buyer chooses. Stop all taxpayer subsidies. It opens the door to abuse and bureaucratic delay.

    • Strange, I still go to many sell-out shows at both The Theatre Royal and Winter Gardens (or did until Covid).

      • Then post Covid it will be viable as a theatre. I suspect it will be worth more as a restaurant or bar. That’s for the market to decide with the highest bid for the site. There’s no need for public money to be spent or further involvement from TDC.

        Sell it.

        • I agree public money shouldn’t be spent on The Granville: The old Westcliff Pavilion (ex Motor Museum) should be repaired and brought back into use instead.

          • DFL. Down From London. Sadly a term too often used by local Thanet people. It’s a derogatory term mainly used by the uneducated inbred’s. They don’t mind us spending our cash employing locals. Creating employment and spending money in local businesses. How about refunding the people who invested in the Theatre . What an incompetent council we have.

  5. People tend to vote with their feet. The Granville was struggling way before Covid. It simply isn’t fit for purpose and there isn’t the critical mass of customers paying to watch shows or films to keep it afloat.

    It’s a great clifftop location and other uses definitely need to be considered.

  6. always was a grand place needs bringing up to modern day standards , it is there for the taking , it needs to be advertised around the sea front , i used to use it all the time , but gone down hill

  7. loved the character of the place, great to go and watch good films, without all the rustling of sweet packets and wrappers, and idiots who had to talk through a film because they couldn’t keep up with the plot.bring it back art house movies.and no I am not a DFL.

  8. Kent Film Foundation not mentioned in comments but the copy talks of both eating and theatre. Before Covid I would go to Theatre Royal especially to see productions by Inspiration Creative.

  9. THE CLASSIC CINEMA KINGS CINEMA MODEL VILLAGE PLEASURAMA BOATING POOL GOLF COURSE ON WESTCLIFF ALL GONE I MISS THE 70S.WHATS LEFT?

  10. Hmm, surely a theatre on a clifftop could be iconic. Anyone been to the Minack theatre in Cornwall? No one can deny the Granville needs a total overhaul. It smells of mildew and the seats feel damp. But we need a theatre! I missed the panto not being on there this year and last. And I think a restaurant is a brilliant idea… Most good theatres have somewhere nice to eat before the show!

  11. It’s quite unlikely that thanets. 150,000 odd people can support 3 theatres ( granville, royal, wintergardens) Vue with its attendant surrounding eateries and free parking pretty much dominates cinema , westgate providing the independent alternative.
    As we all know TDC has no money and ia keen to get rid of it. Though i don’t support the idea of the asset transfers to often rather dubious single interest groups, who see m to be dependent on money from grants etc to survive, in the a bsence of which the buildings soon deteriorate ( granville, maritime museum, westgate pavillion , spring to mind) enthusistic amateurs are all well and good in the vision dept. but seem to struggle in reality. Though by time that comes to light its too late.
    Had a walk along broadstairs seafront last night, harbour to dumpton gap, the amount of decay and long neglected maintenance is very obvious when viewed close up.

  12. personally we like the Granville …. yes it needs money spent on it … rather come here to watch films than the Vue which is way too loud … especially for people with sensitive ears … We have more than enough restaurants bars cafes. We dont need another one … we need it as a cinema and theatre.
    IF ONLY I HAD THE FUNDS ….

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