A community bid to take on the Granville Cinema in Ramsgate submitted by the Kent Film Foundation has not been successful.
Correspondence received by KFF today (August 16) says the “proposal has not been selected to move forward with the panel.”
The freehold for the building is owned by Thanet council, which 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. The venue had been shut since the start of the pandemic.
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 site was then put on the open market through Miles & Barr Commercial with all offers reviewed after the June 27 deadline.
A panel is due to hold interviews with those behind selected bids. It is understood, but not yet confirmed, that six bids will go forward to this stage.
Emlyn Gregory, from KFF, said the news that the foundation has not been put through to the panel stage is disappointing, adding: “I hope the winning bid has the community value ours had, we will watch with interest.
“We are shocked that our bid, put together with experts in the field, running to over 130 pages, with 6000 signatures of support, support of many arts groups and venues within Ramsgate elicited zero questions from the unknown panel whose expertise is unknown.
“If Thanet council had wanted an independent panel, a quick Google would probably seen our backers on it. It is a very sad day for Ramsgate.”
Supporter and County Councillor Karen Constantine added: “I’m utterly disappointed, and frankly disgusted that Ramsgate has – again – lost a valuable community asset. I’m sorry that KFF bid wasn’t accepted.
“I note that TDC have allowed Miles and Barr to convey the news. It really makes me wonder if KFF were ever seriously considered as a genuine prospect. Because another – as yet unknown – buyer has been preferred.
“I would like to add my thanks to Jan Dunn and whole team at KFF for their hard work and dedication.All KFF supporters will be disappointed but we will continue to fight, and will wait to see what develops at the Granville site.”
Kent Film Foundation submitted a 131-page rewritten business plan to support its proposal to redevelop the site– backed by a cash offer to buy the building.
The bid included photos, videos, a petition and supporting statements documenting the thousands of local residents who have come out in support of the Foundation’s proposals over recent months.
The KFF group wanted to create a new arts centre with workshop space, cinema, theatre, a bee-friendly roof terrace, the town’s first organic restaurant – and a new name The Sandcastle.
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 , increased cinema screens and new theatre space.
The plans for construction of the building were for a £3-£5million “Green Build” design and the scheme was expected to create at least 12 new permanent jobs alongside other employment and work-based learning opportunities, and contribute to the local visitor economy.
A survey in 2017 identified some £152,000 would be required for internal works and, in addition, another £250,000 would be needed for roof repairs. The building has continued to deteriorate since that survey.