Early plans revealed for Walpole Bay lift, pavilion, pool and access projects as part of £3.55m Coastal Wellbeing scheme

A new pavilion and refurbished lift are among the plans for Walpole Bay

Early designs, details and timelines have gone on display for schemes totalling £1.8million to reinstate the Grade II Listed Walpole Bay Lift, explore improvements for the tidal pool and look at vehicle access and shared space at Hodges Gap and plans for a connected scheme to create a pavilion with community and public facilities.

The Access Walpole and Testing New Uses schemes come under the £22.2m Margate Town Deal which was secured by Thanet council in March 2021 and form part of the Coastal Wellbeing project.

The other Coastal Wellbeing projects under the Margate Town Deal are The Oval Bandstand and Lawns (allocated £500,000 but currently at a sticking point) and  Margate Skatepark (allocated £750,000). Plans for these were previously displayed at Turner Contemporary.

The total also includes £500,000 revenue funding.

Access Walpole

The aim is to reinstate the Walpole lift and other facilities (Photo TDC)

Thanet council is heading the project to repair and renovate the Walpole lift and explore the tidal pool and Hodges Gap improvements.

Work to the lift mechanics is expected to begin early next year with planning permission being sought.

The lift was originally installed by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s to encourage people to enjoy the benefits of living by the coast. This included swimming in the nearby tidal pool or walking along the shoreline – activities that improved people’s health and wellbeing.

Thanet council officer Natalie Glover is leading the  Access Walpole project. She said: “It is to improve access overall, from the steps to the lower promenade, reinstating the cliff lift, looking at vehicle access and the tidal pool and looking at what the possibilities are.”

Natalie says a look inside the lift has revealed it is in a condition that is “encouraging.”

She added: “The timelines have a contingency (estimated dates) but we are putting together a technical specification to go out to tender shortly.”

Improvements to the tidal pool will need to take into account site designations and that it is a listed structure. Engagement with Natural England, Historic England and access groups is taking place to see what solutions will be taken forward.

Walpole Bay Photo Swift Aerial Photography

Improvements to vehicle access at Hodges Gap are being explored and how the promenade space can be shared safely and enjoyably by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

A new kiosk may also be included in the scheme.

New pavilion

Architects Curl La Tourelle has been commissioned for the Testing New Uses part of the scheme which is to create a pavilion which will include a cafe, a bookable wellbeing space, swimmer facilities – changing rooms, outdoor showers, lockers – store rooms, public toilets, and potential lifeguard facilities.

There are three preferred locations on the lower promenade for a new pavilion. These are:

  • Between Cliff Lift & Stairs
  • Facing Tidal Pool
  • Bottom of Hodge’s Gap

Mark Attmore, from Curl La Tourelle, said: “The project aim is to bring more users to Walpole and have a pavilion that serves existing users and encourages more people to come to the tidal pool which is one of the largest in the UK and Europe.

“The pavilion will include public toilets, facilities, outside showers café and wellbeing space. Part of this engagement is to find out what people would like the space to be, so there are cakes and tea at the café, and that’s part of wellbeing, and then the flexible, bookable venue that could be for exercise classes, educational purposes, community groups, rock pool search programmes or arts, craft, parties, community use.”

There are three early deign concepts for the pavilion which people are being asked to give their views on.

The target timeline for the pavilion scheme is designs ready for early 2024, further public events and then planning application by mid-2024, construction to start late that year with both the pavilion and lift schemes completed and ready for use by Summer 2025.

Cllr Ruth Duckworth, Cabinet member for Regeneration and Property, said: “I am so excited about this. I swim in the tidal pool and it will be so nice to have changing rooms.

“I haven’t been able to bring my mother down (to the tidal pool) as she is not mobile so it will be great to have the lift working too.

“We are at the really early stages and the feedback we get will inform what happens next, there is room for manoeuvre.

“Having the timelines is really important because then people know it is going to happen.

“Walpole Bay Swimmers are very excited and have discussed coming down to look at the plans and people seem very happy.

“I really love this project and it is good to see the hard work and campaign of Kate Harrison – who painted the lift every year – is going to pay off.”

The drop-in runs today (October 5) until 7pm, at the Walpole Bay Hotel, Fifth Avenue, Cliftonville.

UPDATE: The display boards are remaining on view at the Walpole Bay Hotel from Monday 9 October on a drop in basis between 10am and 7pm. The exhibition will close at 7pm on Monday 23 October.

Members of the public can also fill out an online survey via this link.

Plans can also be seen online at: https://www.thanet.gov.uk/info-pages/get-involved-mtd/

Margate Town Deal, Levelling Up scheme and Future High Street Fund to be managed as one £51m pot under new pilot scheme


  1. Good news.

    Hopefully the toilets will be open all year round unlike the other coastal toilets which are already boarded up until next Easter.

  2. Seems all very targeted a specific set of people in the community doesn’t seem at helping those in need in the community.I think the Walpole bay should be left alone we don’t want it commercialised the majority of us are happy the way it is.

    • You speak for “the majority”, do you Donna? Strange, because “the majority” of people I talk to would love to see it restored to some of its former glory.

      I hope these plans come together. Agree totally about the lack of loos between Margate and Broadstairs though, hardly encouragement for all year round walking, swimming and cycling.

      • That’s rich from you Peter, who often claims he speaks for the majority with no evidence to back it up. And these people you talk about whom you talk to, are they in the room with us now?

    • I tend to agree with you Donna. It attracts the more ‘upmarket’ crowd does it not? Changing rooms & wellbeing whatnots are aimed at the few whereas Margate needs general TLC to provide for the many. Who needs more ‘wellbeing’ than sea swimming and the tidal pool already provide?

      • So you’re annoyed that they want to provide more facilities, showers, toilets and a well being room incase more people come? That’s absolutely looney.

        Sometimes I am aghast at the responses people post here. “Yeh don’t make anything better incase other people might want to use it”. Ffs.

  3. Great scheme, great design and a great achievement if completed by 2025. Is it a priority though? Will the vendors offer realistic prices? Will anyone be welcome if you can’t afford a dry robe?

  4. It’s a scheme devised by people who really don’t know the area well enough and have not thought it through in detail. And who is this aimed at? Those who use the Walpole pool already do so without this new facility. There is no good sandy beach in this area and what there is, is covered by the tide when it comes in. And who uses the pool when the tide is in which are many daylight hours during the course of the year. Even if it were to be used all year.

    There is very limited sunshine in this area. Why try and develop something here when there are plenty of other more suitable areas in Thanet.

    And how much is it going to cost to bring utilities to the building where none currently exist?

    A well being space? How often is this going to be used? And in the winter who is going to want to walk along here when it’s wet, windy and cold?

    As for Cllr Ruth Duckworth’s comment “I am so excited about this. I swim in the tidal pool and it will be so nice to have changing rooms.” – these are going to be extremely expensive changing rooms provided for you and a few other people.

    As for her comment – “I haven’t been able to bring my mother down (to the tidal pool) as she is not mobile so it will be great to have the lift working too.” It’s easier to drive down to the tidal pool and park up than it will be to take the lift – where are you going to park to get the lift? Not in the Indoor bowls area I assume as that will soon create problems if you and others do that.

    I am totally opposed to such a large of amount of money being used for this scheme which will only benefit a small number of people and is not in a location to attract more tourists.

    • “Not in a location to attract more tourists”? The beaches along here were packed prior to all the facilities being washed away in the 1978 storm. Build ’em, and they’ll come again. Makes a change to see investment in this neglected stretch of coastline rather than giving it to the arts or high streets that are beyond redemption.

      • I agree we don’t need more arts but this is not the right location for a new pavilion and the huge amount of money which it will cost. And now prom is there (unlike when I was a kid), you’ll never get a beach again so pointless wasting even more money in trying to bring a beach back. Tourists want sunshine and as this is north facing, so close to the cliff, you don’t get much sun. And tourists don’t want to be sitting on a prom when the tide is in.

    • 100%! Fixing the lift is a solution in search of a problem. Anyone with limited mobility will clearly be driven to the car park where there is level access already. The lift will soon be vandalised. Other than that great to see the investment.

  5. Hope they get on doing it as well as the area between Coastguard station and Northhumbrrland it’s overgrown with weeds and filled with rubbish, and please do something with the cafe, the way it’s being run at the moment shows no imagination or interest.

  6. Cliftonville doesn’t have a beach with any facilities even though the Walpole Bay is getting busier every year, the tidal pool desperately needs repair work and as for comments like leaving the area as it is? and having limited sunshine? these people obviously have no idea what (and for whom) the Margate Town deal funding was for!

  7. Over the last 15 years, an absolute fortune has been spent on regenerating Margate. The Turner Centre, Dreamland, The Kings Steps etc. but walk along the promenade to Cliftonville and you come first of all to the Winter Gardens which is closed and boarded up and there is currently not much hope for it’s future.
    A little further and you come to the dilapidated, graffiti ridden shell of the Lido. Just past the Lido, on the clifftop, you come to the overgrown remains of the Arnold Palmer crazy golf course. Keep walking and past the children’s play area you will see the remnants of a Victorian shelter currently disguised as some sort of art installation. Beyond that you will come to the Oval where lots of money has been spent recently bringing it back to life on the false promise that £500k was coming from Margate Town Deal to complete the work. Keep walking and you come to the art deco cliff lift which, like everything else, has been left to rot. Just past that is what used to be St. George’s Lawn where a cafe and a toilet block once stood. Now replaced by that big blue carbuncle used for indoor bowling. Down the steps opposite you come to the once hugely popular Walpole Bay.
    Prior to the great storm of 1978 here was a sundeck with a cafe, beach goods shop and ice cream kiosk and hundreds of beach huts all the way along the lower promenade. Back a bit towards Margate there was a wooden toilet block and another sun deck at Newgate Gap.
    Walpole Bay tidal pool is all that remains of a bygone era but, at last, there is hope. Hope that in just a couple of years, Walpole Bay can become a beach for the many as it was before not for the select few who want to keep it for themselves. Bravo TDC! Let’s get this show on the road. This is exactly what Cliftonville needs and hopefully more regeneration will follow. Sorry Donna but believe me, you are definitely in the minority. I can’t believe that anyone could be so selfish as to wish for Walpole Bay to remain as it is because other people might want to come and enjoy it.

  8. I think this a lovely thing to happen to Walpole bay I used it when my kids where small swimming there good luck I be down there when it’s finished.can not wait have a swim .needs to renewed.from Paula reed from Ramsgate.

  9. Maybe something could be done with the sea defences too to encourage the sand to build up more. When I was young there was far more sand on Walpole Bay than there is now. You used to be able to walk into the pool from the beach on sand. Now it’s rocks and seaweed.

  10. I think the argument to leave it alone is a strong one. It currently is a space for all with free parking. No plans are available as to what reconfigure the car park and improve the pool means. I suspect this is a way the council will monetise the area -something they have historically tried to do. Adding asset like the lift and facilities improves their changes.

  11. Oh heaven forbid if our cash strapped council was to make some money. If you’re a Cliftonville local, why would you need to take a car to Walpole Bay?

    • I don’t drive. The point is it’s a free space for everyone to enjoy with a free car park to enjoy the benefits of swimming in the sea or being just by it. Health benefits that may take pressure of local health resources. Where else can cash strapped families get that!

Comments are closed.