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.
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.”
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 YourVoice.Thanet.gov.uk
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.
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.”
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
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
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
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
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
Review proposals for the Winter Gardens, complete due diligence processes
Provide recommendations to Cabinet