The Granville Theatre in Ramsgate has now been put up for sale in the open market.
Thanet council owns the freehold of the building, which was also used as a cinema. The site has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
The Granville is the town’s only multi-purpose entertainment venue. It takes its name from The Granville Hotel. The theatre’s patron is actress Brenda Blethyn.
The building was listed as an asset of community value in 2019.
The council took formal possession of the venue in May last year after the impact of covid left the Granville Theatre Ltd team – who had been running the site – with no option but to relinquish it.
In October 2021 Thanet council invited expressions of interest from eligible community groups to become the new owners the theatre.
A submission from Kent Film Foundation was rejected as not meeting the relevant criteria. The group wants 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 Sandcastle.
Plans include workshop space to continue with youth film clubs and to create a new youth theatre and youth orchestra in partnership with Pie Factory music and the inclusion of 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.
However, at a council meeting in March Cabinet Member for Economic Development Cllr Reece Pugh said: “The KFF submission did not provide adequate designs or costings for refurbishment of the building and lacked proof of funding and a realistic business plan.”
He also revealed that a survey in 2017 had identified some £152,000 would be required for internal works and, in addition, another £250,000 would be needed for roof repairs.
The group has been fundraising in the hope of now buying the site.
The site is now being marketed by Miles & Barr Commercial and details are expected to go live on the company’s website on May 16.
Commercial Manager, Phil Hoskin said: “We are elated that the Thanet District Council has chosen us as the agent to assist with the sale of the historic Granville Theatre. Our commercial department has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and the contract to market the Granville Theatre is a testimony to the hard work seen on a daily basis within the team.
“The multi-purpose entertainment venue is a landmark in Ramsgate. The sale of the historic venue creates a wonderful opportunity for someone or a company to write the next chapter in the building’s history, an exciting prospect.”
Thanet council say: “Bids were recently invited from interested parties who wished to undertake a Community Asset Transfer. A submission was received from the Kent Film Foundation but did not meet the criteria required for it to be successful.
“The Community Right to Bid phase expired on Wednesday 20 April and Miles & Barr Commercial has now been appointed to market the property for a period of at least six weeks. After this date, all offers received will be reviewed and assessed.”
Central Harbour ward councillor Becky Wing is among councillors who had backed the film foundation plans, saying they would have created a much needed cultural, community, educational, training, event and theatrical centre which Ramsgate presently lacks.
Speaking previously, after the foundation bid was rejected, she said: “The selling of assets to the highest bidder has so far left us with a derelict Western Undercliff site and old Motor Museum none of which now benefit our community. In fact, they blight our communities.”
The sale coincides with the closure of the Theatre Royal in Margate on April 28, which is earmarked for refurbishment, and the Margate Winter Gardens on August 14 after which it is planned to use Margate Town Deal funding of £300,000 to create a fully developed plan for the site.
The old Granville Pavilion was damaged beyond repair in World War Two and was demolished.
The New Granville Theatre, as it was originally known, was designed by architect Mr W. Garwood at a cost of £13,100 and every usable brick from the old building was brought back into use, with new blocks being made in the town.
The theatre was declared open by the Mayor of Ramsgate Alderman Austin in June 1947.