Public views wanted on the future of the Westbrook Loggia building

Westbrook

Thanet District Council has commissioned Fourth Street Place Consultants to carry out a feasibility study on the redevelopment of Westbrook Loggia at Westbrook Bay.

The Loggia, which sits along Westbrook Royal Esplanade, was originally constructed as a bathing pavilion in the early 1900s. The building, owned by Thanet District Council, is currently empty except for a section occupied by Thanet Lifeguard Club and Your Leisure.

Earlier this year, the council put out a tender for a feasibility study to consider development options that would be practical, sustainable and commercially viable 365 days of the year. The building has also been identified as a key site to deliver improved experiences and facilities all year round in the council’s Destination Management Framework.

According to the Architect’s Journal, the project is to transform the Loggia into a food, retail or mixed-use venue with small scale self-catering accommodation and public toilets.

When the site was listed for asset disposal by Thanet council a stipulation of sale on the open market was for the purchaser to commit to building the new public toilets.

Several expressions of interest were previously lodged with Thanet council for taking over the building.

Postcard of how it once looked

Thanet Lifeguard Club had come up with proposals and Mixed Martial Arts fighter Cameron Else had drawn up plans for Project Combat Westbrook which would have housed Fight the Demon HQ mental health charity, Hot Yoga, Mr Sport Nutrition Kitchen and Westbrook Water Sports.

The Project Combat scheme was also submitted for the Margate Town Deal scheme – bidding for £25 million of government cash – but did not make the shortlist despite local popularity.

Its proposal was:

• Cameron Else Mixed Martial Arts
• Fight the Demon HQ (Charity for mental health)
• Hot Yoga Infusion
• Mr Sport Nutrition Kitchen (Restaurant)
• Westbrook Water Sports

A previous Cabinet agenda for the asset disposal of the Loggia said: “The building is in very poor condition requiring an estimated £700,000 to be spent over a term of five years to maintain and prevent further deterioration of the building.”

As part of the new study, Thanet council wants residents, businesses and beach users to give their views. An online survey  launched today and will be open until midnight on Tuesday 5 October.

Council leader Ash Ashbee said: “The Westbrook Loggia is located in a residential area and on a beautiful beach that is popular with both residents and visitors. It enjoys a prime beachfront location, with fantastic access to both Margate and Westgate-on-Sea.

“For this site to be commercially viable, an all-year-round offer will be needed and the council would like to see something that will make the best use of the Loggia’s footprint and positively enhance the area. The provision of public toilets and the management needs and services for the bay will be considered within future planning for the site.

“We would greatly appreciate people taking the time to complete this short survey and telling us what they would like to use at the site. We are keen to hear from as wide a range of people as possible, whether residents, visitors or people with business interests. Your views matter.”

If you would like a hard copy of the survey, please contact tourism@thanet.gov.uk.

A feasibility study investigates the viability and practicality of a potential project or development. The study is being carried out by Fourth Street Place Consultants and will include a full building appraisal as well as considering best practice models; the kinds of future mixed uses that could be provided in the Loggia; potential business / funding models; market testing of the concept and commercial viability.

The final report is expected by the end of the year and will be taken to Cabinet for consideration.

28 Comments

  1. Why do we see the phrases “owned by Thanet District Council” and “in very poor condition” together so often? As with the lifts and everything else, these things didn’t start out that way!

  2. A rather pointless exercise, most residents would want the building repaired and refurbished and retained by the council for provision of toilets and community use. That patently won’t happen as having allowed if to fall into such serious disrepair there will never be any money to do it.
    So best that’ll happen is its sold off, toilets are provided by the purchaser for public use and probably a cafe and small area for lifeguards and beach warden. As its pretty much a done deal its pointless wasting money paying the report provider to note and consider anything it receives.
    Just another TDC building about to be sold off.

  3. There is no reason these facilities couldn’t be renovated, adapted and made fit for modern usage, other than TDC lacking the skills, staff, vision and logic to do so.

    It belongs to the public, the public want to see it used by beachgoers, both resident and visitor. It could be a visionary example of a local authority doing something innovative and forward thinking, but this is TDC we are talking about. Flog it off for peanuts to some iffy developer or spurious cause, sell the taxpayers short and let some private enterprise cream off the profit.

    As for Project Combat… Is that really what people actually want? Nothing says ‘welcome to our beachfront’ quite like MMA and UFC. What next? Cock fighting at the Winter Gardens? Bear baiting in the Theatre Royal? Let’s go the whole hog and bring back public hangings in Hawley Square, just to really show off our forward thinking credentials…

      • Why? Physical exercise , self control, boosting self confidence, discipline are all surely goood skills to have. Pretty sure that by now those with an arts leaning are well catered for, surely its time to help others pursue their interests.

          • But can you give some logical reasoning for this , given i’ve listed some of the benefits to such a facility. Not that i personally have any interest in taking up any martial art/ wresting etc. There are many that do.

        • Thanet is equally well served by martial arts clubs too, and they aren’t asking for public hand outs. As for the mental health charity it doesn’t exist!
          It’s a vanity project that isn’t commercially viable, it’s not hard to guess the outcome, if it’s given to project combat Westbrook. If we are going to give public assets away they need to go to registered charities that have a track record, of successful delivery and outcomes and provide space for organisations life the guard club, how have been helping young people and the community for years.

          • Violet-Elizabeth, you have hit the nail on the head! Project Combat is exactly that, a vanity project. They want to be given a public asset to exploit for private benefit. As for setting up a mental health charity, this is purely the excuse being used to justify their request for the building. Absolutely no demonstrable track record of delivering anything, no expertise in the field, no consideration of the many other established, respected and active charities working in the field and no sense of wanting to collaborate with others.

  4. What’s the betting it will be sold for less than it’s real value and make another loss to the authority once the feasibility study has given them the run down?

  5. Why ask for public comments when tdc are spending £30k+ on an independent feasibility study.

    Ok my view is to sell the property to a company that will do all the necessary repairs and then tdc rent parts or all of the building.
    Atleast the property will be repaired, tdc seem to allow so many buildings to self destruct from lack of their common sense.

  6. With some considerable investment this building could turn into another 2 story cafe/restaurant like the one in West Bay.

    Westbrook Bay is busy at all times of the year – not just summer and is arguably the best beach in Thanet, especially for families with children.

    As others have said, it is a sad recurring theme that TDC let our buildings slide into a state of disrepair before realising they can’t afford to renovate them and then sell them off on the cheap.

  7. A 2-storey cafe/restaurant is the way to go. A popular, all year round beach definitely needs a good cafe. A restaurant above that can be hired out for events – even weddings- would be a good use of space and used throughout the year.

  8. I’ve lived in westbrook for many years and it’s been sad to see such a building with so much potential fall into dis repair.
    It has amazing space and unparalleled views of the beutiful underrated westbrook beach.

    It could be a beautiful restaurant with all year useage and cafe with beautiful sunset views
    and toilet facilities with the right amount of investment which will need to be substantial.
    I would certainly love to have a meal there watching the sun go down.

    Thanet Council would be better to auction off to a rich investor who will give it the time and money it deserves.

  9. This is ours, it belongs to the people of Thanet not TDC and it has been neglected by those elected by us and those employed and paid by us – it is about time they explained why assets like this are left to rot.
    The Loggia could be restored to provide a wide range of attractions, why not offer it on a long term lease in such a way as to invite private investment but to retain the asset for future generations – I think they call it sustainable development?
    As for Ashbee, I heard she has quietly bought the closed toilets at Minnis Bay – any truth in that one?

    • Which “closed toilets”? The only closed ones I know were concreted over years ago. Unless you mean Beresford Gap in Birchington?

      • They are at the crab pool, behind the wooden beach huts – and they are bricked up at the moment.
        I thought there had to be an auction but….

    • Why? Physical exercise , self control, boosting self confidence, discipline are all surely goood skills to have. Pretty sure that by now those with an arts leaning are well catered for, surely its time to help others pursue their interests.

      • I think you’ll find that’s what clubs like the life guards offer and they’re a lot more use on the beach front than a cage fighter.

  10. Times have changed. During the Edwardian era, and up to the 1950’s, people flocked to the Kent coast for their holidays. There numbers supported the Winter Gardens, Pavilions and theatres which were once a feature of our towns.
    But since Freddie Laker introduced the package holiday, we have chosen to desert our beaches, and sun ourselves in Costa del Sol instead.
    So these grand buildings, once thronged, are hardly patronized at all.
    If you are lucky, you might get someone like Wetherspoons to invest millions in repairs, and create a “destination” venue.
    Otherwise, just pull it down before it falls down.

  11. As much as I admire your contribution to succinct English language, you have fallen on your sword a few times, I daresay.

    Despite the confusion of money with homophones, I am still left extracting the few hairs I have left on my head with people confusing adverbs with possessive pronouns is in your (or maybe you’re or yaw, according to PQ) use of “there”.

    Oh, and on the subject of your quaint allusions to Britishness, we affirm our cultural application to Ol’ Blighty and forgo the use of a “z” in patronised.

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