Security measures and ‘screening’ to be installed at Winter Gardens during closure

Margate Winter Gardens Photo Frank Leppard

Temporary screening and other security measures will be installed at the Margate Winter Gardens while it is closed and awaiting an “appraisal” on its future.

The Grade II listed building hosted its last performance on August 7 during the Margate Soul Festival.

Management has now returned to Thanet council which says it will be closed “for a period of time.”

During the closure, the security screening and fencing will be put in place on and around the building. Additional security measures will include daily patrols, internal inspections and CCTV.

The heritage building is owned by the council but was leased to Your Leisure from November 1999 until this month.

The building requires significant investment and repair.

Margate Soul Festival at the Winter Gardens Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council plans to use Margate Town Deal funding of £300,000 to create a fully developed plan for the site. This would include a detailed project delivery plan with public and private sector engagement. Specialist services would be needed to help test the market and identify the opportunities available. Specialist architects would also be used to scope out the required works and develop a fully costed scheme.

Initially operator Your Leisure was to retain the lease which ran until 2024 but agreement was then made for an early surrender. Your Leisure’s annual rolling lease at Theatre Royal also ceased on 28 April. A refurbishment of that venue is planned under the £22.2million Town Deal fund but a date for this is yet to be announced.

Thanet council says the closure and appraisal mark the next phase for the venue, adding: “The Winter Gardens has an impressive past and we are confident of its potential for a significant and flourishing future at the heart of Thanet’s already thriving mix of culture, heritage and tourism.”

Thanet council leader Cllr Ash Ashbee, said: “Now that the Winter Gardens is back under council management, we can start to determine the best future for the venue.

“We need to understand what is commercially viable in the building alongside public engagement to ensure that we hear from the community as part of this process.

“Everything that we are doing is with the best interests of the Winter Gardens as the foundation. We are confident that the Winter Gardens has a fully viable future ahead.”

Winter Gardens protest Photo Frank Leppard

In July some 200 people attended a demonstration organised by Thanet resident Jack Packman in support of a  Thanet Labour Party petition asking for a public meeting to explain the current situation, and future, of Margate Winter Gardens.

Margate Winter Gardens has been open and supporting the Thanet community for 110 years, with the last time it was closed during World War II. The 2,000-capacity venue supports local jobs and has entertained hundreds of thousands over the years.