Western Undercliff Art Deco lift and former cafe and toilet block both sold at auction

The Grade II lift and former cafe site with planning permission have both sold

The Grade II listed, Art Deco lift at the Western Undercliff in Ramsgate has sold at public auction for £31,000 – a little above the £20,000 guide price.

The Clive Emson auction is being held online today (December 15).

The structure was built circa 1926 and had capacity to carry 20 passengers but has not worked for a number of years. It was listed for asset disposal by Thanet council in 2019.

The lift has been cared for by volunteers of the Western Undercliff Regeneration Group. In 2017 volunteers installed colourful artwork and new Perspex panels after working for around three months  with artists Lee Nicholls and Robert Onion to spruce up the lift.

Volunteers revamped the West Cliff lift but now the council is selling it Photo Brian Whitehead

The group managed to secure £1,200 from Ramsgate Town Council and permission from Thanet council to replace the Perspex panels in the shaft and create art at both the top and the bottom of the structure.

The Western Undercliff cafe and toilet block has also been sold at the same auction for £600,000, just above the £550,000 guide price.

It was initially sold by Thanet council in 2018 for £100,000.

How it would look MBW architects

In 2020 planning approval was given for a café, restaurant and flats at the site but this year the developer said the proposal would be ditched due to 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 had broken down. He now says he will abandon any future investment in Thanet.


  1. Sold by the Council for £100,000 three years ago – now sold on for £600,000. Who dealt with the asset disposal for the Council?

    • It was sold at auction by the council. As a plot of derelict land, without planning permission. I fail to see how this was sold on the cheap.

  2. “The Western Undercliff cafe and toilet block has also been sold at the same auction for £600,000, just above the £550,000 guide price.

    It was initially sold by Thanet council in 2018 for £100,000.“

    That’s a very good profit for no improvements having been undertaken. How widely was the development site advertised prior to being sold? I have no problem at all with profit being made from the actual development of a site disposed of by the Council – and look forward to development by the new owner – but this looks like a disposal well below market value which would be to the detriment of the ratepayer. The original purchaser has pocketed half a million profit from a Council disposal.

  3. Clare – I’m not sure I’d like to pop into a chocolatier where you can look up and see someone sitting on the bog several storeys up? Although it is an ingenious idea for solving the issue of needing both a cafe and public toilet in the area.

  4. Isn’t this just one of a long list of poor asset disposal decisions made by TDC. This is small fry compared to the recent Dreamland asset disposal. Isn’t it about time central govt were called in to investigate what appears to be a questionable and on the surface at least disposal(s) below market value.

    • In the case of this site and others it went to open auction, which is seen as about the best way of determining best value. In this sale the site has hads its value enhanced by the planning permission gained ( something tdc can’t do before the original sale, due to obvious conflict of interest) the rise in property values and greater popularity of thanet in general.
      The investor/developer saw an opportunity and has made the most of it. Good luck to them.

  5. However this is dressed up TDC is selling off more of the family silver – paying off the consequences of gross mismanagement by selling our (the residents of Thanet) property to cover their (TDC councillors and officers) incompetence and depiving future generations of the options that these disposed assets might bring.
    Shamefull behaviour and more evidence of a rotten oouncil – when they run out of things to sell they will be gone and we will be left with nothing.

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