Grants of £13.7m due to be released to four Margate projects

Margate Photo Steven Collis

Grants totalling more than £13.7million are due to be released to projects in the Levelling Up and Margate Town Deal schemes.

Thanet council Cabinet members are to discuss grant agreements to release funds for four projects.

A grant of £6,306,078 will be made to the EKC Group to deliver the Margate Digital project, which will be based at the former Marks & Spencer building.

The £6.3m grant is being match-funded to bring the 53-57 High street building back into use as a specialist industry-focused centre on the high street.

The former Marks & Spencer building in Margate

Thanet District Council, in partnership with the EKC Group and The Margate School, aims to  create 2,000 sq m of cutting-edge, industry-relevant training space which will focus on digital technology.

The shared space will link with local businesses, and TDC says increased footfall will enhance the town centre, making it more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.

The campus will deliver a range of technical qualifications, including specialised T Levels in Animation, Architecture, Programming, Coding, Graphics, Marketing, TV and Film, and offer progression to Level 4 and 5 provision by introducing new Higher Technical Qualifications, supported by a government-backed brand and quality mark to meet the higher-level skills of industry.

The building freehold was bought in 2006 by Thanet council for £4.5 million with grant funding. It has since been used by Turner Contemporary and then Store 21 until its closure in 2017.

The funding comes from an award of £26.1 million from the government’s Levelling Up fund..

Funding amounts from that scheme were £6,306,078 for the Margate Digital project and £19,840,000 for Ramsgate Future.

A report to Cabinet members says: “Officers have been actively working with EKC Group to develop this project and develop the grant agreements and funding is now being allocated by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

“EKC Group is on a very tight programme of delivery, with their ambition to be welcoming students into the Margate Digital Campus from September 2023.”

The Trust will provide business space for those in Margate’s creative industries

A grant of £6,000,000 from the Margate Town Deal will go to the Margate Creative Land Trust which has been awarded charitable status from the Charity Commission.

The Trust will provide physical workspace at affordable rates for creative practitioners including people working in design, music, publishing, architecture, film, gaming, crafts, visual arts, fashion, TV and radio, advertising, literature, computer games and the performing arts.

It will take on underused or empty properties through outright purchase of freehold properties or long leases, or through properties gifted or transferred to the Trust by public or private partners.

These will be used as affordable commercial space for creative industries and support services. The Trust will also promote education-based and community centred services, including participation in the creative industries to provide new jobs and enterprise opportunities.

Another £900,000 grant will be used for creative production and skills outreach, education and engagement programme.

A further £500,000 grant will go to GRASS (Gordon Road Area Street Scheme) Cliftonville. for the Oval Bandstand and Gardens project.

Grass took on the lease for the site last year and have been working on a number of improvements.

Under the Margate Town Deal the funds will be used to continue that work and create a Pavilion.

Stephen Darrer, of Grass, previously said: “We need to make the site work 365 days a year, so think Ellington Park and the fantastic results they have achieved.

“It’s about repurposing what’s on the site, honouring the heritage and making a useable, accessible space for the community.”

Grass want to also include training and education in their plans and are talking to mental health charities about involvement to build on community wellbeing uses.

GRASS Cliftonville’s outdoor cinema at The Oval Bandstand. Picture: GRASS

The aim is also to reconfigure the bandstand area so it is a 360 space – a “theatre in the round”- which will mean moving the toilet facilities. The pavilion will be wheelchair accessible.

There will also be wildflower meadows, lawns, a mini wetland, a mini-forest, and paths lined with wildlife-friendly plants to create a “coastal eco-park” alongside artworks, social and activity spaces.

Margate was one of 101 places given the opportunity to bid for funding of up to £25 million as part of the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund. The fund aims to support urban regeneration, skills development and improved connectivity by giving each place its own Town Deal. A bid amount of £22.2milion was granted.

Successful projects were chosen under four themes:

Scaling creative production and skills

  • Establishing a Creative Land Trust
  • Improvements to the Theatre Royal

Coastal wellbeing

  • Improvements to Walpole Bay and Oval Bandstand
  • Skatepark

Active movement and connections

  • A series of highway and public realm interventions

Heritage assets

  • Repurposing the cinema building at Dreamland
  • Winter Garden future options appraisal

The grants will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting this Thursday (April 28).


  1. Great. All worthwhile projects but I wish some of the money could be spent on improving toilet facilities and on keeping the town clean and free from graffiti 🤔

    • Easy – get the creatives to say they need to go to the loo and the money for sparkling new toilets will arrive as if by magic.
      Whether the rest of us would be allowed to use them is another matter…

  2. what about a nice art gallery / centre no one seems to mention these in the thanet area + i hope they keep the receipts for all the spending – some chance of that !

  3. Fantastic picture of Cecil Square without the rubbish bins beside NatWest Bank. Really was/is not a good site for residents and visitors or for business. Please can TDC refuse department keep it like this.

    • I think the days of big named brand shops moving into margate and ramsgate are gone for the time being. The only thing they can do is create enough footfall so they hopefully one day come back

  4. That’s enough to refurb the Winter Gardens, the Theatre Royal, The Old Town Hall, and every single Public Convenience in Thanet.
    Hold on to Heritage

  5. Six million to build a college when there is one a few miles down the road which could offer the same subjects.

    Who was chair of the Margate town deal board when the funding bids went in ? I can’t remember.

    • I can’t remember either, but as far as I know Stephen Darrer, Director GRASS Cliftonville CIC sits on the Margate Town Deal Board.

    • Broadstairs College doesn’t have the physical space to offer these courses hence the collaboration with TDC. Any additional education should be welcomed. I appreciate that others will feel the money should go on amenities.

  6. The grant funding is meant to be “match funded” to mere mortals this suggests that if you get a million you match it with a million, an article about the skatepark seemed to suggest that the 800k plus grant was “match funded “ by only £100 odd k, is there any information of the match funding for the other projects especially the old Marks and Spencer building , Creative land trust and Grass.
    Or are these basically just being bunged lots of cash with little of their own input?

  7. Margate was a great place when I lived there 30years ago it will never be the same again I lived in clifftonvill which is now a mess Margate had great shops pubs good hotel’s all gone thanks to the thanet council

  8. I have an idea 💡 how about spending money on the whole of Margate sea front so it looks like a warm welcoming place to visit, turn the whole of the sea road from the clock tower to the Turner centre into a pedestrians walk way ,no cars ,then add plenty of seating and this is usual for Margate lots of colourful flowers ,make Margate it’s a place where visitors want to come to like they did year’s ago ,

  9. Whilst I’m pleased for investment in Thanet, there are more areas in Thanet other than Margate. I know Ramsgate is considered to be the arse end of Thanet but we deserve more investment in our town centre. All we get is the threat of an unwanted cargo hub that will bring constant air pollution, noise and gridlock on our roads. Politicians say it will bring prosperity to the area, instead it will kill Ramsgate. Visitors won’t come, they may as well go for a day out to sit on a deckchair at the end of Gatwick Airports runway.

  10. Stephen Darrer is a serving member Town Deal Board. Surely this is a conflict of interest as he is also the Secretary of GRASS who have been allocated £500,000 from MTDB.

    • Agreed this is very questionable, so were the draconian rules that committee & sub committee members had to abide by. Have any of our Councillors grown any recently?.

  11. Much welcomed investment in the High St of Margate but no joined up thinking. Yes,spend 6.3million on a Digital Hub but have 15 cars parked on the pavements outside; tooting at each other and screaming road rage as they fight to pick up food deliveries.
    TDC please re-visit the parking policy on the High St so it functions all day long. ie after 6pm.

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