Old School Hall in Garlinge to become artist’s studio and living space

The Old School Hall in Garlinge

Plans have been approved to convert the Old School Hall in Garlinge into an artist’s studio and exhibition space with ancillary accommodation.

The building on Dent-de-Lion Road was sold at auction for £217,000 in February 2021.

It had been used as a church hall for years with many community groups given notice when The Parish of St James’ Church took the decision to close the facility, saying it needed too much maintenance.

Despite an expression of interest by Garlinge Residents’ Association for the village to take over the site as a community asset via a leasing arrangement, it was sold on the open market.

Now a plan for the site, drawn up by TaD Planning Ltd on behalf of the new owner, artist Alex Calinescu, has been approved by officers at Thanet District Council.

In a statement to the council, TaD said: “In early 2020, Ms Calinescu saw the Old School Hall advertised for sale by Caxtons and was immediately drawn to it. Unfortunately it was already under offer.

Overview image of the Old School Hall. Picture: TaD Planning Ltd

“A year later she noticed it was back on the market again and this time she didn’t miss the opportunity to buy it.

“Ms Calinescu was immediately aware of the considerable concern within the local community that the building would either be pulled down or converted into flats.

“She had noticed a number of postings on social media reflecting these concerns and decided to address them by explaining her love of the building, why she had bought it and her respect for its history.

“Since purchasing the Old School Hall, she has met many people who live in Garlinge.

“Everyone has been very welcoming and fully supportive of it becoming an artist studio, along with a space for her to live.

“Ms Calinescu wants to be a contributing member of the community and living at the Old School will enable her to do this.

“There have been no objections to the change of use application from the local community.”

TaD Planning said the proposed works are the minimum alterations needed to create the painting studio with a small ancillary living space.

They include replacement timber double doors to the front elevation, replacement timber windows and insertion of four rooflights to the western roof slope.

TaD Planning added: “Alex Calinescu is an eminent artist, lecturer, teacher and mentor for younger artists.

“She has organised and participated in Open Studio events over many years and intends to continue this at the Old School Hall to forge links with the local community and schools.

“She intends to use the proposed working studio as exhibiting space when collectors come to visit and during Open Studios.”

Council officers approved the plans stating it would not result in any significant harm to the character and appearance of the area or harm to the non-designated heritage asset.

They said the proposal would not impact upon the living conditions of neighbouring properties either or prejudice highway safety.

The building had previously been designated an Asset of Community Value by Thanet District Council. It was removed from the list when sold.


  1. With the housing shortage, surely this building should be converted to residential for more than just the one person ?

    We do not need another self-indulgent artist studio and to continue to build on farmland instead.

      • To be fair TDC did give it Community Asset Designation, but no organisation was able to get the funding to buy it. It was sold by the Church , who obviously wanted to get best value for their property. The Community Asset designation made the sale a very protracted process.

    • And where will the GP surgery and all the other local social amenities come from to support all these additional residential accommodations ??!!

  2. Yet another artist, but at least she isn’t using public funding. I’ve just had a look at her website and must admit I just don’t understand modern art nor who would spend money to buy these sort of images. But thanks for saving the building Alex and I hope you enjoy your new home.

  3. If it had been bought by a private building company they may have built a block of 6 or 8 flats there. Artist and Studio or Private flats? I know which I prefer.Good luck to her!

  4. what a novel idea another art studio , i never would have thought of that – its something thanet needs more of, art – art – art , no not realy i lied.

  5. Good luck with your project 👍 and I’m glad you own it ,I’m fed-up with lovely old buildings which have stood the test of time being pulled down for a few weedy little homes so some builders can make a quick killing, long let it be part of Garlinge, it could have been worse it could have been a dog grooming shop ,ho wait a minute that’s going to be a few doors down, now that’s the last thing we .

  6. The building was falling into disrepair because the church boarded it up and kicked out community groups years ago. I for one am glad to see it’s being used again. Good luck to you!

  7. At least this artist seems happy to live in a fairly quiet residential area rather than the usual magnets for the arty crew i.e. the town centre or Cliftonville. And she must know that the housing development is in the pipeline too. She’s well-established and has nothing to prove, so whatever people think of her work, she isn’t a talentless poser.

    We may have sufficient dog parlours in Margate … but I do agree that provision of very affordable rented property would have been the best option. Well, that’s the pipe dream.

Comments are closed.