£700k loan from No Use Empty scheme helping to renovate Clock Tower News building in Margate

KCC and Papa Adams family at the site

The Clock Tower News building on Margate seafront, which has fallen into disrepair over the past decade, is now undergoing major refurbishment, thanks to Kent County Council’s No Use Empty scheme.

The listed building in Marine Gardens consists of two adjoining four-storey (plus basement) terraced buildings with two three-storey rear additions. There is also a separate single-storey rear addition extending the full depth of the site.

The owners, the Papa Adams family, consulted with the Heritage Officer at Thanet council and worked with architects to find a way to present acceptable renovation plans.

Listed Planning Consent was approved by the council in February but the projected costs were high and due to the dilapidated state of the building, traditional finance was an issue.

Thanks to a loan of £700,000 toward the costs from the No Use Empty scheme, the work has now progressed with a likely completion date in December.

No Use Empty programme manager Steve Grimshaw, Michael Papa Adams and KCC
Cabinet Member Derek Murphy in one of the new kitchens.

A new roof is already in place, ensuring the property is now watertight and new shop fronts with re-purposed entrances are being created.

There is separate access for the six residential apartments – two one-bedroom and four two-bedroom – which are undergoing refurbishment. There is also a separate ground floor lock-up shop unit to the rear which includes the basement area.

Michael Papa Adams said: “It was a real challenge coming up with the plans that made the best use of the building and met the heritage requirements of it as a listed building.

“Then we had the challenge of arranging finance for the project. Traditional funding was proving unlikely, so we are grateful to the No Use Empty scheme which allowed us the funds to bring this building back into full use.”

Before work started Photo Frank Leppard

Derek Murphy, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, saw the work in progress and later said: “No Use Empty is ideal for a project like this.

“To have a building such as this, in a prominent position on the sea front, in such a dilapidated state was such a waste, so I am pleased that we have been able to help bring it back into use.

“I am pleased to see that some of the original features, some dating back to the Victorian era, are being retained, and I look forward to seeing the property after the refurbishment is completed.”

The No Use Empty scheme aims to cut the number of empty dwellings that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over six months.

The Loan Fund operates on a recyclable basis; as soon as loans are repaid the fund is replenished and can be “loaned” again.


  1. The loan will not be repaid that quick to replenish it within the KCC department. How much do they have in the kitty to help others that need doing as there are many more properties in Thanet alone that could do with this help to get them back into use.
    It’s better than just leaving them derelict of course but previously developers couldn’t wait to grab a property on the cheap to do up and rent out or sell. But, there is not much restriction on purchasing agricultural land to develop into mass housing these days, so the big boys are grabbing as much of that as possible during the current climate to make a killing on building cheap non-environmentally friendly homes to sell at great profit while the relaxation of planning consent regs are still in place by the Tories. That could change when they are ousted from power though!

  2. Might usefully husband a mite of this largesse to re-restore the Time Ball especially now the Clock Tower Door has been re-renovated ? In time for the Coronation ??

  3. How long have the family owned this building,if a long time why have they let the building get like this and why not use their own money,the time frame for repayment if ever, is not stated, if they have just bought it ,surely the purchase price would reflect on the price ,and they should have their own money to pay for repairs,£700000 seems excessive,he cheaper to knock down and rebuild a new one, I bet it I applied to a fund to have work done on my house that’s well over 100 years old ,I would be told use my own

    • I think you may find that this family has owned multiple properties and businesses in Margate for decades – the Fort Lodge Hotel for instance . . .

  4. How about spending the money on the clock tower itself, sod the building, who ever owned them should have maintained them through there life ,

  5. While I am pleased that the building is finally being renovated I don’t understand why the council is paying for it when it is privately owned. Just force the owners to sell if they cannot maintain it. Why the heck should they get help to profit from it. If there are 6 flats then all the rent from those flats should at least go straight back to the council.

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