Thanet council wants your questions about future of Margate Winter Gardens

The Winter Gardens is currently closed Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council is asking residents to submit their questions about the Margate Winter Gardens ahead of a future public meeting.

The Grade II listed building hosted its last performance on August 7 before the lease was returned by then-operator Your Leisure to Thanet council and the doors were shut to the public in readiness for  surveys which will be used to determine the building’s future.

Thanet council is using Margate Town Deal funding of £300,000 to create a plan for the site which includes building surveys, a legal report, a night time economy report with options for the Winter Gardens use and marketing packs to attract commercial investors and/or operators.

Margate Soul Festival was the last gig at the Winter Gardens before it closed Photo Frank Leppard

The authority plans for reports to be complete by March, when it will begin to market the venue, and expects to hold an open day for prospective operators in April. The aim is to have a recommendation for the site’s future brought to council Cabinet members by June.

A public meeting will be held on a date yet to be confirmed.

Ahead of this, the council is asking people to submit questions through the new Your Voice platform on the TDC website which will be collated with the main themes added to the Margate Town Deal webpage

Thanet council says: “Since bookings paused temporarily in August, there has been an appetite for information about what happens next. A commitment has already been made to host a public meeting in the future and once appointed, specialist consultants will be conducting a review of the evening and night time economy. The public will be invited to contribute at that stage, as the council works to understand the venue’s future potential.

“Questions won’t be answered individually on Your Voice Thanet, but it will act as a space to collate them. The aim is to end up with the most pertinent information up on our Margate Town Deal pages, based on the most common questions asked. Your Voice Thanet pages will be updated with links to the FAQ page when it has been published.

“This is one element in a broader timeline of activity for the Winter Gardens, which includes appointing consultants who will carry out some community and stakeholder engagement in considering a vision for the Winter Gardens as part of the evening night time economy review and strategy.”

Margate Winter Gardens Photo Mike Nichols

The Winter Gardens topic is due to go live on the site at some point today (December 8) and run until Sunday 8 January 2023. It will be published on

An estimated timeline for the Winter Gardens project has also been published on the Margate Town Deal page here 

Cllr Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader of Thanet District Council, said: “We have committed to listening to residents, and keeping people up to date with progress at all stages of the Winter Gardens project. Inviting people to submit their questions on Your Voice Thanet is one of the first ways that we are doing this.

“We hope that lots of people will choose to get involved and share the questions they have. This is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

A council meeting tonight (December 8) is due to raise the issue of a petition containing 2000 signatures with the request for a public meeting about the venue.

The petition was first presented to council by Councillor Rob Yates, on behalf of Labour shadow Cabinet members, in July.

Photo Frank Leppard

It was accompanied by a public demonstration of some 200 people, including business owners and performance groups, who showed support for the petition request for the public meeting.

An update is due to be discussed this evening.

At a council meeting in September it was revealed that interest in taking on Margate’s Winter Gardens has been expressed by at least three parties with further enquiries still coming in,

A pledge was also made that the site will not be considered for any residential use, with council leader Ash Ashbee stating: “The intention is to find a stable investor/operator, whatever we can do, to bring this building back into action. There is no intention, certainly under this administration, for it to ever be anything remotely considered as residential so I hope we can lay that ghost to rest.”

Estimated timeline

December 2022

Engage a multidisciplinary team to deliver a review and strategy of the evening and night time economy across Thanet, and the role of the Margate Winter Gardens

Launch online community engagement – to support creation of new FAQ –  through Your Voice Thanet – this will be open for four weeks

Commission up to date site plans and drawings for the Winter Gardens

Undertake a legal review and report on the title for the Winter Gardens with relevant legal advice, searches and surveys

Commission costed surveys

January 2023

Online community engagement closes – officers to review the questions submitted

Sign off site plans and drawings for the marketing pack

Finalise legal review and surveys

Complete costed surveys for the marketing pack

Carryout stakeholder and community engagement on the demand and vision for the Winter Gardens

Draft report from the evening and night time review to include a proposed vision and recommendations for the Winter Gardens, with information to support the engagement of a marketing agent with relevant experience.

Commission Historic Buildings Report

 February 2023

Publish the FAQ on the Margate Town Deal webpages following the initial stakeholder engagement

Propose recommendations for the public and private sectors about their roles in developing a sustainable, accessible and inclusive evening and night time economy across Thanet.

Draft Evening and Night Time Economy Strategy for Thanet in order to support significant assets, including the Winter Gardens

Commence the procurement of a suitably qualified and experienced marketing agency through an open process

 March 2023

Finalise the Evening and Night Time Economy Strategy

Engage the marketing agency – draft and approve marketing materials

Update Cabinet on the marketing materials and the Evening and Night Time Economy and Strategy

Launch marketing activity to identify a commercial partner/operator

 April 2023

Host open days in the Winter Gardens for prospective commercial partners and/or operators

Finalise prospective commercial partners and/or operators questions and the due diligence process

 May 2023

Review proposals for the Winter Gardens, complete due diligence processes

June 2023

Provide recommendations to Cabinet


  1. Been killed by Dreamland clearly… All the bands that used to go naturally to the WG are now on there.

    • Killed by the way people spend their leisure time, hence why even the Marlowe in Canterbury needs to be financially propped up…

    • That’s not true , bands like Simply Red and Noel Gallagher to name but 2 acts that played Dreamland and not WG
      Just a few like Paul Weller and Tom Grennan have played both venues .

  2. Give it a good make over reopen it. Look what happened to the other places like the motor museaum on the westcliff in ramsgate,boating pool,model village,that are now gone.

      • I too was alarmed when I had read that the seats from WG had been sold to the new Granville theatre project but maybe it was good business for both parties and if WG is to get a makeover then surely new seats for the refurbishment would make sense .

        • Thing is the article didnt say they were sold or donated.

          As the WG belongs to the public it seems reasonable to ask the price TDC got for the chairs. The new owners of the granville is a Ltd company so our chairs shiuldnt have been donated if they were.

          All we know is they went to the granville donated or sold we dont know !

          • Was the wording at the time that they were “transferred “ to the granville , on the basis that they would deteriorate if left in the wintergardens until any possible reopening and that suitable storage would be expensive. Of course the obvious thing would have been to have sold them.
            The dreamland owners seem adept at auctioning off any and everything, perhaps tdc should take note.

  3. TDC may ask us about plebs about what to do with WG,but chances are they can and do what they want,councils always have done and always will ,tick box exercise at best

  4. In the absence of someone stepping forward and sorting it out with their own money the place has no future. The council and public purse has thrown so much into Dreamland that it is the place that needs to be seen to succeed, plus having had all that public money and the 4m of matched funding available its perfectly placed to become anything the wintergardens could be much quicker leaving no market for the wintergardens to fill.

    So , lets hope there’s a person with deep pockets looking for a project.

    The council having an “intention” is a declaration worth nothing and easily evaded.

  5. So it costs £300,000 to begin the process of selling it? What will that do other than supposedly give weight to an eventual decision that ‘sadly’ it is to be demolished and the land sold to developers? Or am I being unnecessarily cynical?

      • Thanks for the clarification Peter. Lots of money though eh? OUR money. What gets me is that a publicly owned building is allowed to fall into disrepair and then monies that could, I imagine, have been used to restore it are put to the aforementioned use. I guess this is how councils (don’t) work.
        It’s a fabulous building, as eccentric and fun in its way as is Margate as a whole. If it does get destroyed or changed beyond recognition then that’s another part of this extraordinary little town lost. (I know you claim not to like Margate but I reckon you know it HAS got a lot going for it). And, more importantly, it really does cater for a great range of local people as well as those who travel here to attend events. I’ve lived in quite a few places, seen the destruction of affordable venues and services in all of them. (Family have lived here for generations).

        • I loved the “old” Margate – even the one of 20-odd years ago, with half-a-dozen pubs featuring live bands on a Friday night, London taxis doing annual charity events for disabled kids, a High Street with better than Herne Bay and Broadstairs combined, and tacky traditional seaside shops selling buckets ‘n’ spades and Margate rock. It’s the making out that everything is so much better now because of an art gallery that few locals use that gets my blood pressure going! But yeah, I love the Winter Gardens, and not just because I spent 4 great years working there. All those memories… The Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Duncan Norvelle, and all those other great acts of yesteryear.

          Now, can we please demolish TC and bring back The Ship?

          • The keyword is “yesteryear”.
            What worked for a thriving seaside town pre Freddie Laker doesn’t cut it in the 21st century.
            Just like Manston airport – if enough people had used it, it wouldn’t have closed – the same us true of the Wintergardens, Dreamland and the Pavilion in Ramsgate. The latter being saved from ruin simply because Wetherspoons stepped in and spent £Ms to repair and renovate the place.
            I don’t have any idea what can be done with a huge, enormously expensive to maintain space on the outskirts of a one-time seaside resort. I imagine that if there was enough income from events, the question if its disposal wouldn’t have arisen.

          • Again, just like the toilets and lifts, it was closed due to lack of maintenance. It was used almost daily, sometimes several times a day (as well as two halls, there are various other function rooms). It didn’t rely on just ticket sales, where shows still sold out very often anyway.

            Now, say something positive. Go on, you can do it!

    • Of course it will be sold because that is what TDC do have they ever maintained any thing but lots of money is due to be spent on the Turner Centre and that is still under warranty

  6. This is a feeble effort at making it apppear that TDC is on the ball – 4 months on from closure and nothing has been done, this programme should have started in June and we should have been in the end game by now.
    They are out of their depth, the timeline is hugely optimistic and consultation over Christmas? Yeah, they are taking this seriously!

  7. It’s too neglected to save, in the wrong place, relies on patrons locating sidestreet parking, not particularly pretty, and boasts a ghastly entrance kiosk.

    I would rather it be turned into an amphitheatre of flowers / relaxation for passing pedestrians similar to the one on Broadstairs seafront.

    Sod the WG, Margate should HAVE ITS PIER RECONSTRUCTED!

    • The pier is fine. It doesn’t need to be reconstructed. The jetty, however, was destroyed by a storm in 1978. It was originally built as a docking point for the paddle steamers which went to and from London and Southend. At the time of it’s destruction, it was already pretty much redundant and it certainly would not warrant the cost of rebuilding now.
      Also. It was not public owned like the Winter Gardens.

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