A bid for £322,740 will be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of plans to create a café and heritage exhibition space at Ramsgate’s Clock House building.
The bid would be for phase one development funding and will be followed by a second phase bid for capital and revenue of potentially up to £2million.
The Clock House project is earmarked for £1.48million from the £19,840,000 Ramsgate Future fund but needs to source additional grants.
Thanet council has been working with the Ramsgate Society on the scheme, which also includes a town square proposal at Pier Yard car park.
First mooted in 2015, but with lease issues standing in the way, the Society’s feasibility study is included in the Levelling Up Fund projects.
The Ramsgate Society proposal includes a museum and heritage centre with five gallery areas, a terrace and mechanical interactive exhibits on various historical themes. It would be a combination of renovation and new build,
In the proposal it states: “The Clock House presents an exciting opportunity to develop a heritage centre which enables visitors to explore Ramsgate’s maritime and social history.
“The surrounding Harbour and dry dock is of significant heritage value and would greatly benefit from a centre where visitors can access information and interpretation.
“The proposed centre should complement rather than compete with existing museums and places of interest, encouraging visitors and residents alike to explore the historic town.”
The plans were originally hampered by issues with the lease. Thanet council granted a 25 year full repairing and insuring lease for the site to The Steam Museum Trust (SMT) in April 2012 at a peppercorn rent. This lease expires on January 31, 2037.
The terms stipulate that the Trust start repair works between April 2013 and March 2017 but no work was undertaken until The Ramsgate Society took the initiative.
However, Thanet council’s legal team are in talks with legal representatives for SMT and it is understood the lease will be ended early.
At a Cabinet meeting yesterday (July 28) Cllr Bob Bayford questioned whether SMT would receive any compensation, saying: “It’s very disappointing the state the Clock House is in. In 2011 the lease was granted to the current leaseholder. That lease had obligations in return for a rent-free period but it seems in the ensuing 11 years nothing has been done.”
Deputy council leader Reece Pugh agreed and officer Louise Askew said she ‘did not believe any compensation was being discussed.’
Ms Askew said the bid for £322k, ‘matched’ with £35,680 out of Levelling Up coffers, would be used to make the Grade II listed Clock House secure and works inside the building. Money would also be used for a Project Manager, Quantity Surveyor and Design Team.
The second, larger bid and other funds would then be used for work to extend the building for the café and extra gallery space. Documents say the total cost of this part of the project is £3,260,000 in capital funding, plus revenue spending and expected increases for construction costs as the project will not get underway until at least late 2023 due to the Lottery application process timescales.
Cabinet members approved the bid submission to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Ramsgate Levelling Up fund includes plans for plans for a ‘Green Port’ – projected to create 800 jobs, a Green Hub training centre for apprenticeships and training, hospitality and fishing fleet proposals and community kitchens.
It also includes a training hotel and restaurant at the Smack Boy’s building at Ramsgate harbour, a brasserie and a fishing facility for the local fleet to store and sell catch from; and two community sites in Newington and Ramsgate with training kitchens.
The Smackboys’ building project is awaiting a report from a costed conditions survey that has been carried out on the site. The survey will provide the basis of the works required on the building, and will act as a guide in supporting the development into a restaurant and hotel.