Permission granted for multi-million pound Margate Digital campus

Margate Digital Image Lee Evans Partnership

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.

The Margate Digital plan Image Lee Evans Partnership LLP

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.

Image Lee Evans Partnership

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.

Image Lee Evans Partnership

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.


  1. Great idea but poor choice of location. Still what do you expect being in partnership with the KCC.
    Multi million pounds will be spent on an old building that’s been empty for years. Clearly the building is in a sorry state, even the property developers have shown little, or no interest what so ever.
    Trouble with old buildings the construction is so old and out dated, they’ve become a money pit.
    Once this site has been renovated already a large chunk of the funds have gone.
    Wake up and rethink. Build a building that’s fit for purposes, using better materials for less.
    Back to the drawing board Kent County Council

  2. £6m for a project that could have easily been accommodated at the existing Broadstairs College campus at minimal cost.

    That £6m would have gone an awful long way if it would have been invested in other Margate priorities.

    • Hi Thanetian, where could it have been easily accommodated at Broadstairs College at minimal costs? Which building could it have gone into? Ta.

      • The building that was previously the canterbury university building (between asda and westwood cross) had its own student accomodation too. ( now being advertised as some sort of mega hmo) . Relatively modern purpose built education establishment. Probably just too sensible to have been considered , plus it would have meant the m&s building would have been empty even longer.

        • Those buildings are owned by ChristChurch University in Canterbury and nothing at all to do with EKC Group or TDC.

          • Did i say they were. Was just suggesting they may have made a better option for an educational establishment especially as they were up for sale recently and had their own student accomodation. We have another story on Iotn where a councillor is bemoaning a lack of rental accomodation yet the same council is providing a campus with no student accomodation. It’s bound to lead to greater demand.

  3. What worries me is where the 300 students will live. They won’t all gone from Margate so accommodation will be required. Something we have a shortage of

    • Andrea

      During term time e.g. Autumn, Winter, Spring, the Nayland Rock could be used for student accommodation, them summer as a hotel, many places in the UK operate like this

    • wrong store that is why. Pik ‘n’Mix was Woolworths.

      Please editor could you show the planning application number as it is not showing on the TDC planning application site. One hopes that the bricked up windows to the building on the Cecil Square side will be re-established as this is at present this is an eyesore especially with the refuse containers where they are. Could they not be placed in the former M&S delivery area.

      I note that there is no mention of opening up the former delivery area of M&S through to New Street as was previously proposed.

    • Perhaps the proposal is to do away with parking (hence the yellow lines) and make it a single lane for through traffic only.

      Now this would be daft thinking on the Kent Highways part because of delivery vehicles blocking the highway. Unless deliveries were restricted to before 09:00. The Cottage in the High Street when it was a pub/restaurant would only accept deliveries before 10:00 partly because of disruption during business hours and partly because delivery vehicles parked on the pavement or blocked the highway.

      Kent Highways based in Maidstone consider this don’t they. ?

      • I think ‘R’ must live in a different Margate. This part of the High Street is one-way only already and has been all the time I’ve lived in the area.

          • I am sure there are plenty of drink artists both within KCC and TDC. I am assuming this is the type of “artistic licence” you are talking about. ?

          • Is the ‘artists impression’ not from Cecil Sq side and that is the case then I think that wide pavement is possible?

        • But the road is wide enough for two cars. ? KCC would do away with parking in the high street in total as in the top half

  4. For £6m plus £6m match funding,it would most cheaper to demolish the building and start anew ,there nothing special about the m&s building,and if the old Woolworths store is anything to go by ,more crap ,putting it about as art,to much money being spent on “the arts” and not on job creation ,which is needed more ,if the Turner centre had to stand on its own two feet (without millions of grants )it would have closed years ago

  5. It is job creation. Many digitally trained students become self employed and work from home or hot desk in a local office. Sounds like a great idea and with students and academics in the centre it will bring much needed trade to the area.

      • That’s a good shout Peter. Unfortunately landlords would all have to comply and that’s unlikely but I’ve often thought this myself- if not all the top half then certainly move the shops from Mc Donald’s up to the gaps in the lower high street

    • As asked before where are all these high paying jobs in animation, media, architecture, coding, TV & film etc these courses are supposed to lead to? They certainly aren’t in Thanet.

      Just like the airport in the middle of nowhere, with no transport links to it that were promised a very long time ago. An ‘art gallery’ that needs constant funding because pretentious people want to pretend we are Paris, London, Brighton etc.

      What is the point of this if there aren’t companies in Thanet or the surrounding areas doing these thing to employ people when they complete the courses?

      It just becomes a game of constant grants/wasting money-like sending people to colleges & universities, they get every qualification under the sun & then go & serve coffee in Starbucks, wiping tables in Burger King etc & the student loans can never be repaid.

  6. It’s a much better location for students than an out of town campus. It will bring footfall and skills to the centre of town. Cut down on traffic. It’s about time the building was brought back into use after being bought for a very high price via the SEEDA grant in 2006.

    • Agree, students will be more drawn to a town centre location rather than a bleak, out of the way spot like the old Christchurch campus.

      • But pays no attention to the issue of accomodation for the students , placing greater pressure on local housing is surely doing those full time residents that need it no good at all. The all encompassing art is all important attitude needs to be balalnced against other local needs. The project is being driven as much by the need to find a use for a building that had become an embarrassing white elephant as anything else.
        Forward thinking is not a TDC strongpoint, does anyone know who’ll be paying the energy bills for the drug hostel in the uninsulated listed ex Royal British Legion Building? Boiler will be running flat out as soon as winter comes and be on a commercial tariff. An absurd choice of building for such a facility, and that’s before you consider the dishonesty involved in its creation.

        • The students will be living at home and commuting as they do to go to the College in Broadstairs, this isn’t going to be a University but an extension of the College.

          Regarding you issues with the “drug hostel” why don’t you put a FOI in to TDC.

          • Sorry from the article, my understanding was that the margate school would be using a fair chunk of the facility as an extension of their offerings, are they not classed as a university? There is reference to offering post graduate courses? Although that’s not to say that these places will not be filled by local applicants.
            As for the legion, the lies, dissembling , avoidance of planning and listed building regulation evasion of consultation, refusal to take to planning committee all aided and abetted by the council mean asking for information will likely result in a refusal on the grounds of “ commercial confidentiality”

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