Kent Film Foundation bid to take on Granville Cinema rejected

What will the future be for the Granville Theatre? Photo Frank Leppard

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.

Inside the Granville Cinema

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.

KFF founder Jan Dunn during a visit to the site

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.

Granville Theatre demo Photo frank Leppard

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.

Kent Film Foundation’s proposal

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.

Granville Cinema’s sorry state – and Kent Film Foundation’s vision for it to become a town arts centre


  1. try pushing a larger envelope , it seems to be the prefered method around here , and if your face fits a heap of grants might be heading your way – ker ching.

  2. A great shame and a kick in the teeth, not just for Ramsgate, but for the whole of Thanet and coastal East Kent

  3. “6000 signatures of support” that’ll help, needs 6,000 regular users or 6,000 people committing to financial support !

    • It is unfortunate that so many who wish to maintain such facilities – be it a local theatre or a local pub – never supported it regularly in the first instance . . . hence its demise. Going once a year does not cut it.

      Like so many of TDC’s assets, there has been so many years of neglect, it is now beyond economic repair.

      The only local demand is for housing so that is the way the site is likely to be developed.

  4. I can only assume that there are 6 better bids to provide a community-based theatre and cinema on this site. Frankly, I’m amazed!
    What are our elected politicians doing hiding behind unelected officials to make this decision, so important to the well-being of our town?
    Elections in May, Remember.

    • Seriously David? Have you been catfished? Councillors hiding behind officers? Hardly.

      Since the process of disposal was initiated everything has been carried out in accordance with policies and procedures – policies and procedures inherited from the 2015-19 administrations that very firmly delegates the decision making to officers for CAT & CRB asset sales – although that decision has to be ratified by Cabinet – councillors in other words – just unfortunately with no Ramsgate representation at present.

      Your Eastcliff councillors have been working hard behind the scenes since this all began. What we know is that the sale has to have a community value to it PLUS the winning bidder has to show they have the resources to ensure immediate repairs to make the building secure PLUS can raise the funds for full restoration PLUS they can generate sufficient income to maintain the building long term. In addition, by law the council has to get ‘best value’ and consider what is offered as a purchase price (this does NOT mean the highest cash bidder wins but it is a factor for consideration).

      • I know you have been working hard Helen, but the procedure as so much at TDC is flawed. Who on the decision-making panel is representing the community interest? Even under the present procedures, final decision should be with Cabinet, or following scrutiny, with Council.

  5. Might not be a bad day for ramsgate the new owners might do something really good with it.
    We have had enough of art it’s never ending art this art that.
    Ramsgate has a lovely art bardge in the harbour 😉, lots of art shops and galleries.

    Ramsgate wont miss another art project

  6. Bet you it will still be empty in 5 years time.Surrounded by weeds and covered in graffiti. Another blott on the landscape.
    When will Ramsgste ever fulfil its potential!

  7. The Art referred to are the performing arts which means live entertainment for all, zip totally supported Jan Dunn and her Team, what a great loss for Ramsgate. Our Team did a great job but thanks to the Covid it was lost. I really hope that TDC do the right thing and make sure that it will be a Full Commu it Project. With the right Team we could bring g back the Starlite Entertsiners Shows — Christmas Cracker Shows for 40 years, Make Me A Star for 12 years, the Obelisk Awards for 10 years and much, much more. Starlite shows give great opportunities to performers, great shows for audiences and great Charity Groups raising over £25,000 over 40 years. Please let us have the results ASSP Bye Ralph Hoult OBE, Honorary Freeman of Ramsgate past two times Deputy Mayor aka “Mr Ramsgate” also Starlite Entertainers Productions

  8. Like the Pavilion in Westgate that was sold to a private individual “allegedly” as a community asset but in reality for his son and daughter in laws School of English use from May – October. Since the purchase what has happened. The owner went cap in hand for a grant to TDC. This was refused, so ever since the building has been left to deteriorate. The owner I suspect will sell and make a tidy profit.

  9. We can only hope that the six preferred bidders have the resources to revitalize the Granville Theatre site. However TDC’s track record of disposing of unwanted assets is not great. West Cliff hall was sold several years ago and is still derelict and is likely to stay that way I suspect. Same story for the cafe site at the Western Undercliff, will TDC never learn?

  10. Surely TDC has a responsibility to be fully transparent to its population.
    Why can we not know who is on the review panel?
    Why are the six bidders being put forward not making their plans known?
    This should be part of TDCs conditions of sale.
    And TDC should make it a condition of sale that plans should be completed within a say 5 year period or there is a financial penalty on whoever buys it. That should avoid the property being left to rot as has happened to other properties as quoted by others above – Westgate Pavilion, Westcliff Hall, Café at Western Undercliff.

  11. Very disappointing that TDC delegated informing the unsuccessful bidders to the estate agents.

    As Eastcliff councillors our sympathy goes out to the KFF, who we know have worked extremely hard to secure this property for their work with the young people of Ramsgate.

    So far we have every reason to believe that TDC have adhered to all the policies and procedures as well as the law and we look forward to learning more about the winning bid and their plans for a community use for this building – hopefully by the end of this week, after Cabinet have been informed of and confirmed the recommendation of the evaluating Panel.

  12. Loving all the facebook experts today – “sack all the council”, “they are all corrupt”, “they are just interested in money” !!

    Do they not realise the issues are largely due to the financial constraints, a deprived area with increasing costs, with dropping funding from central government?

    Of course it is money, they can’t afford to do things that don’t pay for themselves, yes they have had some pay-offs but in the grand scheme of things that is peanuts

    • Really,

      Animal exports fiasco
      Costs of pleasurama
      Money into dreamland
      Untold numbers of in house payoffs and settlements covered by NDA’s and lost in the books
      Cost of the multi storey car parks
      Ramsgate port fiasco, how much is the cost of the road transport costing us now?

      Are the things that immediately spring to mind, how many tens of millions does this all add upto? Success is most certainly not all about getting everything right but minimising the failures should be a priority.

  13. Some of the local £20m levelling up fund could have been used to maintain this landmark and loved establishment.
    Majority of the levelling up fund is for the port/harbour including the new pontoon bretts berth.

    Money well spent ?

    • £2.3 million on a new berth and aggregates conveyor in the port cannot be considered good value. Did TDC look at termination of the lease with Brett as an alternative option? It would be interesting to know the revenue that this new facility will generate over the life of the lease versus the costs of installing and maintaining it. No doubt TDC will say this information is commercially confident except they are using council tax payers moneyvto fund it and we have a right to know.

  14. I can see the Same thing happening to the Winter Gardens and the Theatre Royal. Close for repairs,never to reopen

  15. Hopefully it will be saved! I agree with the corruption comment, sadly brown envelopes are usually exchanged!

  16. Another venue being taken away, it is as if TDC don’t want the people of The Isle of Thanet to have decent venues and places to go. Why not let someone else takeover and make it into a place we can use.

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