Hundreds sign petition backing Kent Film Foundation bid for Granville Theatre

Granville theatre and cinema before purchase Photo Frank Leppard

Some 1,600 have signed a petition in less than 24 hours urging Thanet council to reconsider its rejection of a bid  by Ramsgate charity Kent Film Foundation to take on the Granville Cinema building.

The foundation had hoped to create a new centre with workshop space, cinema, theatre, a bee-friendly roof terrace, the town’s first organic restaurant – and a new name.

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

There would also have been two cinema screens and new theatre space.

The plans for construction of the building were for a “Green Build” design, with a  bee-friendly roof terrace opened up to the public and a small cinema kiosk/café.

The renamed Granville building  in Kent Film Foundation’s proposal

In October Thanet council invited expressions of interest from eligible community groups to become the new owners of Ramsgate’s Granville Theatre.

The council owns the freehold of the Granville but the site has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

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

But the submission from Kent Film Foundation, understood to have been the only bid, has been rejected and the site may now be put on the open market.

Exasperated residents have signed a petition launched by Thanet artist Karen Vost urging the council to reverse the decision.

The submission has been backed by a number of local groups and individuals including town mayor Cllr Raushan Ara.

She said: “I was delighted to support Kent Film Foundations’ (KFF) application for the development of the Granville Theatre site. This should be held as a community asset, and the proposal that was submitted by KFF, was to create a community hub, as well as a cinema, which our community may use and enjoy.

“By putting it on the open market, outside investors may come and buy the property, and then either landbank it, or turn it into something that will be of no use to the community.
“I strongly urge TDC to look at the proposals again and reconsider their application. I would also propose an urgent investigation within the decision makers, as to why the application received such a low score.”

The call to reconsider the bid is also backed by Gemma Dempsey, Producer of The Festival of Sound and co-founder of Ramsgate Through the Senses.

She said: “As producers of the Ramsgate Festival of Sound we are constantly searching for venues for our performers and practitioners. As our festival has grown so have our needs and The Sandcastle would have allowed us to plan ahead for bigger shows with full facilities, bringing more local spend into the area and providing employment and commissions for locals and artists alike.

“This inexplicable rejection by TDC means that the people of Ramsgate are being deprived of a place for all age groups to be entertained as well as a place of education and inspiration. As one of the two people on the call with TDC months back (and there to support the Sandcastle proposal) I’m convinced that there have been little or no other bids for this property.

“How will Ramsgate ever prosper when opportunities that serve the community in so many positive ways are quashed without valid reason?”

Sylvie Bolioli, of Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival, added: “The Granville Cinema is the only remaining cinema in Ramsgate. The other three have all been destroyed, including a beautiful Art Deco building.

“Kent Film Foundation​ is a charity with years of experience in the film industry and in fund raising.

“Jan Dunn​, at the helm of the Foundation, put a proposal forward including architectural conceptual designs of what the building could look like once fully refurbished, as well as a fully researched business plan. The project has the backing of the whole community as it includes necessary space for local organisations to carry out their community activities, as well as two screening rooms and a restaurant.

“Ramsgate Mayor and Councillors are backing it. No one else has a commercially viable plan as good the Kent Film Foundation.

“Thanet District Council had declared the Granville Cinema a Community Asset two years ago. However they now refuse to do an asset transfer because they rather make a quick buck by putting the building on the open market.

“As the Founder of the Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival​, I’m adding my voice to assert the need for a cinema in Ramsgate. And the Kent Film Foundation’s proposal is the only organisation with the means to save it.”

Thanet council has said it provides feedback on each application and encourages Kent Film Foundation to re-apply. Applications are open until Wednesday, April 20,

A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: “We issued a Notice of Intention to Dispose of an Asset of Community Value for the Granville Theatre, Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, on 20 October 2021, as well as an invitation to submit a request for a Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

“We have now completed the Community Asset Transfer evaluation process of the business plan proposal and evidence submitted by the Kent Film Foundation and have confirmed that their current offer was not successful.

“Further offers can be made under the Community Right to Bid until the expiration of the full moratorium period on Wednesday 20 April 2022. We will now commence marketing the premises on the open market and any offers received will be assessed at the end of the moratorium period.”

Find the petition backing the Kent Film Foundation bid here


  1. As seems to have happened since the change to a district council from the borough of Ramsgate, the Margate centric council continues to sell off Ramsgate assets to fund Margate alternatives. Just take a look at what us ramsgatonians have seen disappear since 1974. I’m convinced if they could they’d sell the royal harbour to the highest bidder.

    • That’s not completely true. They are determined to sell off all assets in Thanet and our heritage along with them. They allow it all to become derelict before selling off at an undervalued price because they will not maintain anything. Margate also is being stripped of it’s assets.

    • Or as here just hand over public owned property , with no consultation, just an expectation by art mafia that our stuff is just handed over for nothing,

      Can we have a cinema that is about a cinema?

      • The application was correct and that is how it works!!
        That is not the issue!

        Did you read the article?

  2. Unfortunately TDC will ignore this petition, claiming that only petitions raised through them will be considered. We learnt this during the early days of the battle over the airport.

  3. Usual TDC stuff – neglect it, knock it down, flog it to a developer…kerrching!
    No sense of responsibility to the community or respect for the past, locked away in the Cecil Square ghost ship or mostly at home, I’ve heard, doing sideline business, getting on with stuff around the house or simply gone missing – certainly not available to answer the phone or emails.
    This shambles of a council really does need a shake up from top to bottom.

  4. Should come as no surprise this TDC you’re talking about, if it benefits the town then it WILL be rejected

  5. 1,600 is more than hundreds. My point being, yet again there is a huge groundswell of bewildered people unable to fathom the ongoing ineptitude of TDC.

    Please could you ask Ash Ashby for a comment if this was indeed a closed cabinet decision then I assume she will be able to explain it?

    • What would you prefer to see there? This scheme is very educational and is surely quite unique and that part of Ramsgate is in need of something of interest surely and not just a cinema!

  6. Report it to the police or the ombudsman, there seems to be something dodgy about this refusal.
    I would like to know WHO refuse it WHEN and WHY.

  7. If you read the original IoTN article (May 2021 I think) it feels crazy that any Council would refuse the project. It takes a very delapidated building and restores and upgrades it. Plus, because the Kent Film Foundation had funding for their plan it would cost TDC nothng.
    So, why the refusal? Why did Cabinet refuse to make Ramsgate councillors (Town, District and County) part of the deision making process? Is the refusal “good process” or should the Independant Monitoring Officer (brought in to investigate our toxic council) be including this in the report? If not this bid what, more expensive flats that no one around here on a standard wage can afford? A deal with a developer that will bring brown envelopes to Officer back pockets? Did the KFF bid fail because the project budget hadn’t factored in the need for bribes?
    Many questions to be answered here.
    Do sign thre petition! It will be part of a bigger campaign to get the decision reversed.

    • If they have got funding can you tell me where from as that would change my view that it is a money pit that will cost the ratepayers thousands TIA

  8. Not all the ex-cinemas have been destroyed. The old “Kings” is a temple for the Tamil community.

    I’ve heard gossip about the KFF taking legal action over this. I suggest this would be the worst public relations move they could make.

  9. KFF should absolutely take legal actio they’ve got nothing to lose and have been treated appallingly in this fake cover project to flog yet another Ramsgate asset.

    Only in Ramsgate do community groups want to buy assets the council refuses to and flogs to others.

    Western Undercliff cafe? How’s that going?

    No doubt there are many others.

  10. The problem with this sort of petition is that it’s relatively easy to get lots of signatures. The originator sends it to their friends and colleagues , puts it on their social media plaforms etc etc and before you know it you have lots of signatures from within your industry.
    How many of the signatories are from ramsgate/ thanet? Plus if you asked locals in a poll, what results would you get if say the options were

    transfer to a CIC

    Or sell and invest the proceeds in lifts/ toilets/ playgrounds/ free candy floss/ or whatever you want.

    The petition represents very little of any real worth other than a headline

  11. You are surely naive to think the money will be invested as you suggest!!
    It is better served as something that is useful to the community and beyond. As we have lost far too many assets to the private sector!

    • Try reading what i wrote, i was talking about the way petitions are worded and how it skews the results, if ramsgate had such a great demand for a theatre/cinema venue the size of the granville, then there would have been queues most nights of the week it would have taken lots of money and been a roaring success, but as we all know it was’nt, i lived just down the road from it for 12 years on the few occasions i went , there was more tumbleweed than people in the audience and the experience was such that you never went back in a hurry.
      But as with all such things there’s a sudden clamour of the noisy claiming its a valuable community asset, hopefully it is and will be bought for a goodly sum, its for our councillors to allocate the money raised, decent toilets would seem the obvious first choice.
      The KFF are just after a free building and the massive balance shhet boost it gives them, the they’ll be holding their hands out for more free money. If the creative industry is such a economic success story then surely they can raise the cash and buy the building on the open market.
      Just look at the mess at the shelter in cliftonville, the furore around the oval give away, the lack of detail around the skatepark, all need to be given something for nothing and then need more free money to carry on.
      Do people remember Kids Co. and the farce that turned out to be, how much did it cost the taxpayer and what is its legacy? Too many CIC’s will go the same way.

      • You answered your own questions, as to why people were not going to the cinema: “there was more tumbleweed than people in the audience and the experience was such that you never went back in a hurry”. The building needs to be renovated and the owners, i.e. TDC don’t want to do it. Let someone who can raise the money to renovate it do it and then you’ll have people flogging in. We, as the Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival did a screening of an independent film less than two weeks ago. Sold out. But we had to go to Broadstairs as there was no cinema in Ramsgate to screen it in. KFF has been raising funds for years to help disadvantaged children. And I can testify, since I’ve also worked as a mentor for those kids, with KFF, the money has gone to help the kids, not in Jan Dunn’s of any of the charity Trustees’ pockets. So claiming that KFF is after free money is simply shocking! So please, do get your information right before posting.

  12. TC an asset ?

    TC is about as much an asset to thanet as my garden shed. But my garden shed doesnt get millions of pounds from the tax payer !

  13. I think that is a cynical view, given what looks like a detailed and credible application and business case by KFF. Direct comparisons to Kids Co are not relevant unless we are we saying all charities are badly run because some of them are? What’s your point? Get rid of all charities, all CIC’s and all funding bids?

    The reason why hardly anyone went to the old cinema is because it was freezing cold and damp. It also had almost no marketing and very little charm. I’m not saying I don’t applaud the efforts of the folks who kept it going as long as they did, but it needed a bit of thought to play to its few strengths left ‘as is’.

    • My view is that we seem to be giving away any and everything for no tangible returns, my reference to Kids Co was that it largely relied on taxpayer funding in the form of grants and handouts rather than raising the majotprity of its own money, that to my mind is not a charity. The raft of CIC’s i see in the same light.
      I’ve bo problem with the concept but they need to be putting their own money where their mouths are. The Skatepark is getting 850k , 50+ k from Tdc, cheap/ free lease and its match funding that’s announced is 125k from Tracy Emmin, so very roughly 12.5% is not public subsidy. Organisations funded on basis have no real need to be properly run. Look at the Newgate Gap shelter, handed over on the back of a plan that is stuck at the plywood box and a bit of naff trellis stage, until such time as the begging bowl gets filled.
      Yep the place was cold damp and smelly, but there was never the audience numbers and so revenues to do anything about it. Which pretty much shows that it was’nt really needed or supported by the public.
      Local councillors support these projects purely because it brings in funding to their wards and they can stand there for the photo op, but if it all goes wrong they can distance themselves.

  14. I do agree charities and CICs need to be properly run, and accountable to their funding streams. Every charity I’ve been involved in is very keen to do so as they know how hard funding is to secure, and how easy it is to lose it. Very little funding is unrestricted, it is usually tied to an outcome.

    The voluntary sector has been destroyed by funding cuts in the last 15 years. As traditional funding has dried up they’ve all been chasing ever decreasing pots of cash. A cohesive approach to funding is always prudent. but the KFF bid looked very comprehensive didn’t it. Certainly more comprehensive than other things TDC has chosen to support or fund in recent years.

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