Call for cafe – with loos – to be set up at Northdown Park

Northdown Park

A call is being made for a café or kiosk to be installed at Northdown Park in Margate.

Palm Bay dad-of-two Scott Manclark has created a petition asking Thanet council to work with a private operator to fund, open and run a cafe operation, ideally with some covered space.

It is hoped the café, which could also provide much-needed toilets in the park, could near the council Pavilion or the main play area.

He said: “Cafes in other parks in Thanet have been enormously successful. We also need toilet provision – something that could be part of the offering.”

‘Social isolation’

Reverend Stuart Gay, from St. Philip’s Church in Summerfield Road, says a café could help reduce anti-social behaviour incidents in the park.

He said: “It is a popular play area, in a part of town with very few recreational or social meeting spaces.

“I am a frequent visitor with my own children and it’s nice to see other parents meeting and chatting whilst their children play in a safe environment.

“in an area which suffers particularly high levels of social isolation amongst old and young alike, social and recreational spaces are priceless.

“One matter of concern over the years has been occasional antisocial behaviour. A minority of local teenagers can be intimidating towards unaccompanied children younger than themselves. I attribute this to the absence of any responsible adult at the site.

“It occurs to me that some type of cafe or small kiosk would increase the playground’s popularity with younger parents especially, but also provide a good weather space for older folk to meet, drink, eat and chat. It would provide somewhere parents could keep an eye on their children whilst meeting and sharing stories with other parents.

“It would make Northdown Park the sort of place that more people could look forward to visiting.

“There are actually two public buildings adjacent to the playground that could potentially provide the space required. Failing that, even a shipping container could be converted to provide the necessary secure space and provide utilities for such a venture to operate from.”

Scott with wife Donna and children Holly and Sophia

Scott was prompted to launch the petition after hearing Rev Gay’s idea, He said:  “Cafes in other parks in Thanet have been enormously successful. We also need toilet provision – something that could be part of the offering.”

A suggestion has also been made for a height barrier to be erected across the entrance to the car park area after caravans were parked up on the site recently.

Cliftonville East Councillor Barry Manners has written to officers at Thanet council asking that an upcoming review of council property assets look at how the authority might help secure a private partner to fund, set up and run a cafe in the park.

He said: “Northdown Park is immensely valuable to the local community. I fully support the idea of a cafe here. I believe it would be a valuable community asset for parents to get together whilst their children play in a safe environment.

“We should be clearing away simple logistical and legal hurdles to lay the groundwork for a private operator to fund and operate such as space.

“I have also written to the Labour Cabinet Member and await a response. It’s encouraging to see local residents stepping forward and asking for change. I’d like to see greater communication between park users, community groups and the council for this and all sorts of other improvements.”

View the petition here


  1. This is a great idea. Ellington Park in Ramsgate has been transformed by the addition of a cafe and public toilets. The only problem is the long queues! They didn’t install enough toilets for the Sunday crowds.

    • Not a new “idea” of course. Even in Victorian times, all large parks would’ve had toilets. Progress, eh?

  2. Back in the 60s, there was a café and toilets in Northdown House. Very easy to say have a hut and toilets near the current playground but it would be very expensive installing water, electricity and sewage. Far better to improve those in the house and open them to the public. Oh no, that would mean people having to use their legs and walk from the playground the length of the park to the House.

  3. I was in Whitstable / Tankerton yesterday and good clean public toilets on the clifftop at Tankerton. Very old solid building which has obviously been kept in a good state of repair. Why can Canterbury City Council get it right and TDC get it so wrong?

    • Last winter I walked the 6 miles along the coast from Herne Bay to Whitstable, and passed 5 public toilets, all clean and open all year round. Yet the 6 mile stretch from Margate to Broadstairs has NO toilets open in the winter and very few in the summer!

  4. Now we have a genuine Council at TDC and not cardboard cut outs like we have had in the past THANET is definitely on the way up. Yes it’s a good idea for Northdown Park to have a cafe and toilets it’s a long-time need that’s been ignored by the Tories. Reopening Ramsgate Port to Ferries would be great, reopening Manston Airport would be wonderful as well. Let’s get Thanet out of the doldrums and into a prosperous future.

    • The opening of Manston Airport has absolutely nothing to do with TDC.
      And if they did have influence, this current council would probably oppose it. Many of the Green and Labour councillors now serving made no secret of their feelings about the airport.

  5. I did make a suggestion that a proper cafe like the one at Kersney Abbey Dover should be built and run by the council, using profits to look after the park, recreate the gardens and footpaths. Who knows entertainment could be introduced at weekends.

  6. I do remember the rose garden and ponds bAck in the fifties, but then we didn’t have the type of lowlifes living in the town who seem intent on destroying everything. Maybe we should not let the vermin win and turn the park into nice place for families.

      • Plus the council had money to spend on staff for each park.

        Sadly the front of northdown park is a mess it use to be such a well maintained area until the wildlife brigade ruin it.

  7. What about the disused changing room block? Could it be transferred to a private operator with the proviso to convert it into a cafe with toilets for public use?

  8. Bill / Andrew, I’m so pleased that Thanet Council does not have a say in the reopening of Manston Airport. TDC has an appalling history record of making anything a success in Thanet. Their motto is “TDC close and oppose” you name it they have closed it run it into the ground or sold it. The DCO for Manston Airport is the best thing ever, the airport will reopen regardless of TDC.

    • You may be familiar with Manston’s dismal history as a commercial enterprise.
      Its final closure in 2014 was nothing to do with TDC nor KCC, and all to do with the huge losses the operation was making (and had consistently made over a number of years). As a resident of North Foreland, you’ll be aware that there’s a lot of sea surrounding Thanet, and few potential customers.
      Move Manston somewhere more central (east Midlands, for example) and it would be in with a fighting chance.

    • Ann

      I think you will find TDC didnt close manston.

      It was because it keeps going bust.

      No infrastructure road or rail, no fuel grid it’s cheaper to fly from manston to Gatwick to fuel the plane.

      TDC didnt close the ferry port

      Thanet is geographically in a poor place for an airport and port

  9. I hope there will not be another airport at Manston. Grant Shapps is making illogical decisions and ignoring the experts’ advice.

  10. M M Rees. There will not be “another airport” at Manston the one that has been there long before you is the same airport that has always been there, that is the one that will reopen. Try to get your facts right before you post on here because you give others false information. There are a few good removal firms in east kent if you don’t like airports.

    • You may have noticed (but clearly didn’t) that Ms Rees was not quoting a fact, but making an aspiration.
      Something she managed to do without being rude to you.
      And there’s absolutely no doubt that the SoS’s decisions are illogical. Despite the conclusions of the Planning Inspectorate (the government’s own department) and the recommendations of experts OveArup (commissioned by the government), the SoS is *still* recommending that the DCO be granted. That really, really is illogical.

    • Well, no, it wouldn’t be the same airport. It would be a different kind of airport, run bu people who didn’t run the previous one.

    • It was “Bill” who suggested that there was a connection between Manston reopening and a new set of councillors at TDC.
      All I did was point out that TDC doesn’t have any influence over the outcome of the DCO.

      A brilliant piece on p39 of today’s Private Eye, BTW, which gives a very neat summary of the background and the current situation.
      Let’s just say thatRSP isn’t likely to buy advertising space in that particular organ.

  11. Me X i don’t know if Northdown park was ever locked at night , maybe the rose garden. not sure about Dane park either.

  12. Whatever, the parks in Dover aren’t locked and the very decent cafe is busy every day, TDC should follow them , invest to accumulate.

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