Cabinet members agree to community asset transfer of Granville Theatre

Granville theatre and cinema Photo Frank Leppard

Cabinet members at Thanet District Council have agreed to transfer the Granville Theatre into the hands of a community organisation if a viable bid is put forward.

At a meeting last night, councillors agreed to dispose of the facility in Ramsgate in accordance with the council’s community asset transfer policy.

This means community groups will have the chance to bid for the freehold of the seafront property. If a viable purchaser is not found, however, the building will be sold on the open market.

Recently, The Oval Bandstand and Lawns entered community ownership after a successful asset transfer to GRASS Cliftonville CIC from the local authority.

Granville theatre and cinema Photo Frank Leppard

The site and associated buildings are now owned and managed by the not-for-profit social enterprise organisation. 

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

The property was made an Asset of Community Value in October 2019, which means any disposal of the building must be carried out in accordance with rules set out in the Localism Act 2011. 

A transfer will usually have restrictions on use and development, and is suitable for established community organisations already able to demonstrate good custodianship of assets and “financial ability to invest in the property in order to benefit ongoing social aims”. 

Last night’s meeting saw members agree to a community asset transfer, but if that fails to bring forward a viable purchaser within three months, the property will be sold on the open market.

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.

How the renamed Granville building could look in Kent Film Foundation’s proposal

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 its bid for the old Ice House.

The foundation’s plans include workshop space to continue with youth film clubs and create a new youth theatre and youth orchestra in partnership with Pie Factory music.

There would also be two cinema screens and new theatre space. 

The construction of the building would be a “Green Build” design, with a bee-friendly roof terrace opened up to the public and customers alike. As well as a small cinema kiosk/café it would boast Ramsgate’s first organic restaurant.

Artists, actors, writers, musicians and more have signed an open letter to Thanet council Cabinet members urging them to consider Kent Film Foundation’s plans for reviving the building.

Among those signing the open letter in support of the proposal are actors Brenda Blethyn and Pauline McLynn; producer Julie Forsythe; musicians Lunatraktors and a host of local residents including Ramsgate mayor Raushan Ara, Oasis Domestic Abuse Service CEO Deb Cartwright, and Zoe and Peter Hammond from Inspiration Creative.

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