An application by Turner Contemporary to leave the Beacons spinning disc installation in place at the East Cliff bandstand until the end of September this year will be discussed by councillors on Thanet’s planning committee next week.
The four structures, which each have a coloured steel disc at the top of a steel pole weighted by a tripod base, were installed in September 2021 and were scheduled to be in place for one year.
The bandstand is a Grade II listed asset, and a designated public open space, within the Ramsgate Conservation Area. The structure dates to the late 1930s and includes the patterned dancefloor, the boundary wall, railings and steps, as well as the bandstand itself.
Councillors are being recommended to approve the application by the authority’s planning officer.
However, Thanet’s conservation officer said: “At the time of the original approval it was established and clarified that this scheme was temporary and as such the harm considered to be caused to the setting and appearance of the nearby listed structures was temporary.
“Given that the scheme is directly in front of the listed crescent and directly upon a listed structure it is considered to cause a level of interference to its setting and appearance, which typically would not be accepted.
“Given the scheme has already been in place for a year, I would now consider that prolonging this level of harm would be inappropriate and as such the structures should be removed. No accompanying justification has been included as part of this application and as such I have little to weigh any harm against any social and communicable benefits.
“Therefore I object to the application and would suggest that the scheme is removed and the listed grounds it sits upon made good.”
Ramsgate Town Council also objected to the proposal as did two members of the public. One response in support has also been lodged.
Ramsgate councillor Steve Albon called the application in to be discussed by the planning committee.
In response to the criticisms Turner Contemporary has provided documents outlining the benefits to culture, tourism and regeneration and highlights how the installation was part of the Pioneering Places project with some 70 Ramsgate schoolchildren from St Laurence’s Junior Academy and Ramsgate Arts Primary working with artist Conrad Shawcross. The gallery say this fits in with Ramsgate’s ‘Levelling Up’ aims.
The children involved in the project researched Ramsgate, with a focus on the historic character of its Royal Harbour, and this was used for their ideas for the artwork.
In a report to councillor’s the planning officer says: “The information provided by the applicant demonstrates that the artwork has achieved significant national attention and accolades and there is a recognition that increased footfall
has been encouraged along the East Cliff Promenade.
“Policy SP04 supports development that attracts tourism and helps to regenerate the town, and the loss of protected open space is supported by policy SP32 where there is open recreation or tourism use.
“The installation therefore meets the aims of these town regeneration and tourism policies whilst being consistent with the cultural and maritime heritage set out in the council’s strategic priorities.”
The planning officer adds: “Given the limited additional time requested and the tourism, cultural and regeneration benefits identified for the town.
“It is recommended that Members approve a further temporary period of time until 30 September 2023 for the artwork to be displayed.”
The application will be discussed on January 18.