Proposal for new cafe, toilets and flats at derelict Western Undercliff cafe site (again)

The Western Undercliff cafe shut in 2014. Image Clive Emson Auctioneers

A new application to develop the derelict Western Undercliff café has been submitted to Thanet council.

Custom Build Developments Ltd is proposing to demolish the existing café building and build a new ground floor cafe; public toilets; sub station; and 13 flats over five floors.

The cafe shut in 2014 when a burst water pipe forced its closure. The site was then sold by Thanet council at auction for  for £100,000 in 2018.

Plans submitted by then-owner Western Undercliff Ltd for a café, restaurant and flats in a “ship” shaped build were approved at the end of 2020 but ditched in January 2021 by the developer in a row with Thanet council over further financial contributions.

New design (Camal Architects)

The site went back to auction in November 2021 with the planning consent still valid and sold for £600,000.

Amended plans have now been lodged with the council, using the same 5 storey footprint but including a reconfiguration of the residential units and axing the previously planned top floor restaurant. Instead this will be replaced by one large feature apartment and the addition of an extra floor of residential accommodation.

In total the flats will be made up of 11 two-bed and 2 one-beds.

In planning documents for the project it states: “The current building and site are unoccupiable and boarded up, representing a potential danger to the general public.

“The proposals are for the provision of good quality public amenities on the ground floor consisting of a new purpose built café along with a new DDA public toilet and electrical sub station.

New design  (Camal Architects)

“The remainder of the ground floor is for the entrance foyer and access core serving the residential floors above with bin and bike storage.

“Our client is now intending to proceed with the revised proposals without any further undue delay with current commercial pressures dictating a very rapid commencement of building works on site.”

A decision is yet to be made. Documents can be viewed on Thanet council’s planning portal under reference F/TH/23/0400


  1. £100k purchased from TDC at auction. Resold at auction for £500k. Profit less the cost of architects and submission of plans fee’s = ?. latest submission 13 flats without parking facilities lets say £350k each flat plus a cafe rental income or freehold. Are the residents of Thanet missing something here. Obviously under valued in the first instance.

  2. its obvious to me its the intention to cover the whole area were the sally line worked from with houses eventually, this will be the start of it , they have no intention of a ferry coming back

  3. At each point it has been sold at “Market Value”. The new scheme has added an extra floor, when that’s approved, it can be flipped again and we’ll find out what the new “Market Value” is….and that’s how it goes on until it becomes financially viable to build something on the site…..

    • I believe you are most probably correct. The council are
      Either inept or corrupt and have been in this situation from
      Before I moved to Ramsgate and appear to be carrying on
      With those actions since I moved away.

  4. The Company involved in this project was to be dissolved by Companies House until that decision (for whatever reason) was reversed in March 2023. TDC must stop approving planning permission for any new residential properties unless there is provision made for vehicle parking.

  5. Council are not interested in the local residents,flats bring in more council tax(no idea where it all goes with all the extra builds in thanet)all the parking along there will be taken up by flat owners with no thought that tourist and local people use this area a lot and have been for years

    • The Council is very limited in what it can do. If the development conforms to the Local Plan, then that’s it.
      As for parking: it won’t be a problem for locals, because they’ll walk, and tourists mostly use the Main Sands.

  6. Ridiculous they made 400k from nothing.

    No way this big ugly building should be approved.

    At the 100k it was fair price to put a modest cafe/shop to service the beach and make a profit.

    Greed from all involved. Planning permission for this monstrosity should be torn up.

  7. Tha audacity of anyone who wishes to develop anything on this Island & make a profit should wholeheartedly be condemned. This building should be left exactly as it is. It’s the way forward?

  8. Of course car parking spaces will be required – for the café and the residents. Whether homes for permanent residents or holiday homes, they will still have cars – not used necessarily for local use but for longer distances. Therefore TDC should not approve these plans without car parking facilities. Maybe ground floor should be given over to parking and café and homes above? Or have a small multi storey as part of the building and reduce the number of flats. But of course, that is not going to be financially attractive to the developer. And for 13 flats you need at least that number of parking spaces, plus some for visitors. And on top of that spaces for the café.

    • It’s high time we all looked hard, and saw the elephant in the room.
      There are too many cars. We are in thrall to the car. We gave been bamboozled by car adverts.
      So much so that provision for cars is at least as important as provision for people.
      And it’s not really up to TDC how many parking spaces are or are not supplied. Government guidelines say that homes built in urban area don’t need car parking, because facilities are close by.

    • Why are so many people mad about cars? Don’t they see how much damage the private car has done in the past century? what we need is excellent and integrated public transport. And fewer absurdly unrealistic car adverts.

  9. The new residents won’t necessarily have cars and I think we ought to assume that they won’t.

    Cars have caused so much environmental and social damage that their use should be severely limited.

    • I think you’re al over looking one fact. Will that or any seafont building be viable with the forecast in rising sea levels by 2050 most of that area and the rest of the sefronts as we know them now will be under sea water at high tides.

  10. A crafty council-More flats-More council tax more money-Money that could be spent on investing in proper Leisure – WATERWORD WITH A WAVE MACHINE TEN PEN BOWLING ALLEYS AMUSEMENT ARCADES ON THE SEAFRONT CRAZY GOLF-thats where our money should be spent on.

  11. And let’s not forget the lovely views the new occupiers, cars or not, will have of the disused harbour and its seemingly permanent traveller site.

  12. The greed of the local authority has always been ridiculous, whenever there has been a project to benefit the people of thanet, tdc have always demanded extra monies to line their pockets, anyone remember the Margate/Ramsgate stadium fiasco, I wonder if it’s the top civil servants for this area rather than the council itself, as no matter the party holding the reigns it always seems to be the old same story.

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