Former Western Undercliff café and toilets to go to auction – again

How it would look MBW architects

The former Western Undercliff café and toilets are back on the market after plans for a café, restaurant and flats at the site were ditched by the current developer in a row with Thanet council over further financial contributions.

Tim Burt, who is a partner in Western Undercliff Ltd, said negotiations with the council’s estates department broke down over a demand for ‘excessive’ payment to allow an overhang on the new building which would go over council owned pathway.

He now says he will abandon any future investment in Thanet, adding: “It is not possible to work with TDC as a developer.  We have tried and tried to push this forward at huge loss to ourselves but have been blocked by incompetence and a lack of vision at every interaction.

“They talk of plans to develop Thanet but cannot translate that in to co-operation on the ground.  It is a council overwhelmed by a culture of fear of failure, making the wrong decisions, having no authority to make decisions and hence a strategy of making no decisions at all.
“We will be focusing on our other developments in Swale and East Sussex instead.”

The development was granted approval at the end of last year and the plan was to demolish the derelict café and toilets at the Western Undercliff and replace it with a five storey building with ground floor cafe and outdoor seating, ground floor public toilets, eight apartments and a fourth floor restaurant.

The application followed the purchase of the site at auction in 2018. It was sold by Thanet council  for £100,000.

But it is now due to go under the hammer at Clive Emson Auctioneers this month with a guide price of : £500,000 – £550,000 + Fees.

The online auction takes place on December 15. The same auction will see the sale of the Western Undercliff Art Deco lift, which has a guide price of £20,000.

Derelict Undercliff Cafe.

The café, restaurant and flats plans, drawn up by MBW architects, are for a building with “a stepping form” to allow for all apartments to have terraces or balconies as well as a top floor viewing terrace available for restaurant guests.

The “ship” shaped build would have green copper on the front elevation and light coloured stone at the base and rear.

Planning permission remains valid for three years.

Western Undercliff cafe, restaurant and flats plan to be ditched over pathway row


  1. Was there any provision for car parking? If a lessee comes home with a car full of shopping, how would they get it home?

  2. What a stupid idea on a chalk cliff bank, on top of a road. This is a cheap buy for maximum profits reason only.

  3. Don’t understand the gripes. It isn’t going ahead anyway because TDC aren’t playing ball.
    No one will buy that planning or not the footprint is far too small

  4. Unfortunately yet again the planning department coming in for criticism. This along with The Old Cottage Pub in Margate High Street have hit a brick wall. What incentive have/has anyone got or received to invest in Thanet.

  5. I think this is just another example of the sad incompetence of TDC’s officers and leaders. A competent local builder would know what could and couldn’t be done with this site (I’m not an expert in that field so won’t offer ‘expert opinions’ like some of those others have offered) but the people who gave us so many derelict buildings and the useless pontoons obviously know better than all of us. It took 22 years for the prime seafront site to be allowed to develop so I’m not holding my breath on this one.

    • Council officers arent builders are they though and its not the job of the plannersand officers to do developers jobs and tell them what they can or can’t do. More greedy developers wanting to buy cheap land, come up with unviable ideas then blame everyone else when they cant get their own way.
      P. S the bloke in The Cottage Margate is exactly one of those developers. Dont spend money to put plastic windows in a listed building and claim everyone else is incompetent

  6. Local community – who actually wanted to lease / buy building to refurbish the cafe and run it , pay rates etc -dismissed out of hand by TDC who took higher bid – nice profit for new owner of site who apparently cannot work with TDC .
    Suggest TDC have meetings inside top of now up for sale art deco lift shaft – gravity is a marvellous thing

  7. What an earth is someone going to do eith the Lift? Twenty grand or more for what? Fix it up and charge a toll to use it?
    Maybe Pritti Patel will buy it for Border Force, watchtower use.

  8. while we are on the subject of tdc i notice theres not much being said aabout the winter gardens closing in 2022 ?

Comments are closed.