Planning permission has been granted for a digital and education campus with studios, gallery, ‘Fablab’ café and workshops to be created at the former M&S building in Margate.
The Margate Digital project by the EKC Group, in partnership with the council and The Margate School, aims to create 2,000 sq m of cutting-edge, industry-relevant training space which will focus on digital technology.
It comes following a successful £6.3 million bid to the governments Levelling Up Fund which was confirmed last year.
Ramsgate and Margate were among towns named as successfully apply for the funding with £6,306,078 granted for the Margate Digital project and £19,840,000 for Ramsgate Future.
The £6.3m bid includes match-funding which will bring the 53-57 High street building back into use as the specialist industry-focused centre on the high street.
The shared space will link with local businesses, and TDC says increased footfall will enhance the town centre, making it more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.
The campus will deliver a range of technical qualifications, including specialised T Levels in Animation, Architecture, Programming, Coding, Graphics, Marketing, TV and Film, and offer progression to Level 4 and 5 provision by introducing new Higher Technical Qualifications, supported by a government-backed brand and quality mark to meet the higher-level skills of industry.
The Margate M&S has been shut for some 14 years. The building freehold was bought in 2006 by Thanet council for £4.5 million with grant funding. It has since been used by Turner Contemporary and then Store 21 until its closure in 2017.
A £750,000 project led by Thanet council has previously been spent on removing asbestos and renovations to the roof of the building in preparation for the Margate Digital works.
The new campus will also include co-working / studio space, a digital production lab, a photo studio and design booths and a 100sqm space for print and creative technologies workshops as an extension of The Margate School’s FabLab.
It will cater for some 300 students.
The Margate School, an independent arts school based in the former Woolworth building, will lease circa 500 sq m of space and will offer a new design-based postgraduate and professional development provision, with expanded Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab), VR and related knowledge exchange facilities.
Opening hours would be 8am-6pm for core teaching but controlled access for staff and students will be available between 6am and 11pm.
The scheme sits alongside other projects earmarked for Margate as part of the £22.2 million Margate Town Deal which include a skatepark, the Oval Bandstand refurbishment, renovation of the Theatre Royal and a feasibility study at Margate Winter Gardens.
Permission was granted for the plan at a Thanet council meeting this week.