A look back at some of the Thanet headlines from 2023

A look at 2023 in Thanet

January

Photo Frank Leppard

Movie Empire of Light – which was filmed in Thanet between the end of February and May 2022 –went on official UK release on January 9.

The film, written and directed by Sam Mendes, had a special screening at the Palace Cinema in Broadstairs and at the Carlton Cinema in Westgate there was a red carpet do the day before national release hosting Sam Mendes and stars Olivia Colman and Toby Jones.

The red carpet event was a huge coup for the independent cinema. Some 200 invited guests attended the screening which was followed by a lunch reception and set tours at Dreamland in the afternoon.

Stars attend special screening of Empire of Light at Westgate’s Carlton Cinema

Terry Price Photo Zoe Norman

A Ramsgate pensioner who had his funeral fund stolen by cruel burglars sadly died.

Terry Price had stashed some £3,000 in his home which he had planned to use to pay for his funeral and wake but this was taken when his home was ransacked in November.

The plight of Terry, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2019, was met with a huge surge of support by the public with a fundraiser, set up by his neighbour Zoe Norman, smashing through the £500 target to raise more than £8000.

The former market trader, who also suffered with arthritis, decided to donate some of the funds to an animal charity.

The 66-year-old dad passed away on Thursday, January 12.

He had saved the money for his funeral costs and a wake at Furey’s bar in Ramsgate.

Paris Campbell-Mitchell and Mark Queen were charged and convicted of the crime. Campbell-Mitchell, formerly of Victoria Road, Ramsgate, was jailed for two years, 10 months and Queen, formerly of Gordon Road, Margate, was jailed for three years and four months.

Ramsgate pensioner Terry Price who was victim of funeral fund theft loses battle with cancer

Margate Digital Image Lee Evans Partnership

The Margate School said it had been forced to halt its involvement in a multi-million pound project with EKC Group and Thanet council over demands for rent and capital funding.

TMS partnered with the college group and council in a successful £6.3million bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund to create a digital and education campus with studios, gallery, ‘Fablab’ café and workshops at the former M&S building in Margate.

The Margate Digital project, which has delayed its expected opening date until September 2024, will include 2,000 sq m of  industry-relevant training space which will focus on digital technology. TMS was due to take 500 sq m of this space to offer postgraduate and professional development provision together with expanded Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) facilities.

The bid involved using £6,306,078 Levelling Up funding with EKC Group ‘match-funding’  £720,000  plus an additional further education budget for programme delivery and student support.

The M&S building, owned in a joint venture between Thanet council and Homes England, is to be let to EKC Group on a 10-year, nil rent lease.

The Margate School halts role in Margate Digital campus project due to unexpected rent and funding ‘demand’

February

Feargal and Jenny with Green councillors Tricia Austin and Mike Garner Photo Steven Collis

More than 100 people turned out for a meeting on February 24 in Ramsgate with guest speakers former punk band frontman turned environmentalist Feargal Sharkey and Green Party peer Jenny Jones.

The gathering at The Modern Boulangerie in Harbour Street discussed sewer discharges by Southern Water into Thanet’s coast and other waterways.

Thanet Green Party organised the event amid growing anger over discharges polluting the sea and the damaging impact on the environment and businesses reliant on the tourist trade.

More than 100 people attend meeting headed by clean water campaigner Feargal Sharkey and Green Party peer Jenny Jones

Valentine’s Day Mascara by artist Banksy Photo Frank Leppard

A piece of art which appeared on the wall of a property in Margate on February 13 was confirmed as the work of street artist and political activist Banksy.

The painting,  in Park Place, was a comment on domestic violence and showed a 50s-style housewife suffering a swollen shut eye, with her husband/partner’s legs sticking out of a dumped chest freezer.

The art was moved to Dreamland in June and it was then announced the park would be the permanent home of the work following a decision to sell it by issuing shares.

In September it went on loan to an Art Of Banksy exhibition at Regent Street.

Margate wall painting confirmed as piece by street artist Banksy

March

Looking at the future of Ramsgate Port

Plans to find an operator to bring ferry services back to Ramsgate Port were agreed by Thanet council Conservative Cabinet members [prior to the May election].

The last ferry to operate from Ramsgate was TransEuropa Ferries which went bankrupt in 2013 and left Thanet council with £3.4 million in unpaid berthing fees.

Since then a succession of ‘proposals’ have been mooted but not amounted to anything, including the ferryless ferry firm Seaborne Freight that was awarded a £13.8million government contract in December 2018 for extra ‘Brexit-resilience’ crossings but in 2020 went into liquidation owing almost £2 million.

In 2021, Thanet council secured £19.8m for Ramsgate as part of the Government’s Levelling Up Funding (LUF). Some £9.62m of this is set aside to improve the port and includes plans for a ‘Green Port’ projected to create 800 jobs, a Green Hub training centre for apprenticeships and training, hospitality and fishing fleet proposals as well as improvements to the berths, mooring spine and check-in/border facilities.

A total of £3.5 million is earmarked for port infrastructure.

Cabinet members approved an option for a multi-purpose hybrid model offering a concession contract with a lease attached to it for part of the port to be used by a ferry operator while the rest of the site is used for different commercial and training interests.

Plans to find operator for ferry services from Ramsgate approved by council Cabinet members

Image Channel 4

Ramsgate jeweller and ceramicist Lois Gunn was the winner of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throw Down 2023.

Loïs took the title after ten clay packed episodes competing against 12 home potters to turn lumps of clay into beautiful objects.

After 20 tough challenges filmed at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke on Trent Loïs emerged triumphant as the winner of The Great Pottery Throw Down 2023.

Ramsgate ceramicist Lois Gunn named champion of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throw Down 2023

Frank Thorley presenting a trophy for the Ramsgate Boxing Club awards in December 2022

A swell of tributes were paid following sad news of the death of founder of Thorley Taverns pubs Frank Thorley, aged 87, on March 22.

The Thanet businessman was remembered by the many people who began careers with the pub chain as well as those who received charitable donations.

Thorley Taverns began in 1971 when Frank Thorley bought his first pub, The Angel, in the City of London. Frank then bought four further pubs in London before purchasing his first outlet in Thanet in 1975, The Charles Dickens, Broadstairs.

The move outside the City was spurred on by the Thorley family’s regular holidays to Thanet, resulting in Frank’s love of the area and his permanent move to Broadstairs in 1977. Thorley Taverns continued to grow throughout the 80s and 90s – with venues including the legendary Franks nightclub in Cliftonville-  with the business successfully operating its London and coastal sites from their Broadstairs base. Thorley Taverns sold their last London pub, The Aldgate Exchange, in late 2013.

Tributes paid to Thorley Taverns founder and charity benefactor Frank Thorley

Photo Frank Leppard

Artist Tracey Emin cut the ribbon for the official opening of the TKE Studios (Tracey Karima Emin) and her artist residency project in Margate, adding to her growing portfolio of investment in the town.

Hundreds of people gathered in Victoria Road to watch the opening ceremony this morning (March 25) which featured music and a parade by 1st Margate Boys and Girls Brigade,  song Like A Prayer from the town’s Social Singing Choir and the ribbon cutting with oversized scissors.

Tracey Emin bought the former Edwardian bathhouse, mortuary and children’s nursery in November 2021 for £750,000. She has since spent upwards of £1million renovating and refurbishing the site.

It now consists of artist studios and gallery spaces and catering school The Best Place to Grow.

During her opening speech she revealed her, later successful, plan to buy the Westbrook Loggia building at Westbrook Bay.

Artist Tracey Emin officially opens TKE Studios and residency project – and reveals plans to buy Westbrook Loggia

April

Ann and Roarke had to mothball The Loft

A lack of funding meant a charity that provided furniture, including children’s beds, and white goods to households facing extreme circumstances had to be ‘mothballed.’

The Loft, which was based at Westwood and was part of the Thanet Iceberg Project, took referrals from social services, local councils, health services and women’s’ refuges, to provide essential household items that had been either donated by the community or built in their workshops. An advice service helping people tackle housing and other issues was also offered.

But money dried up due to funders ‘taking a hiatus’ from issuing grants following a period of large donation making during covid.

One of those funders was a main grant source for The Loft. The result was the laying off of two full time staff and founder Alexander Roarke who also worked full time but took a part time wage.

Thanet project The Loft providing furniture to people in need mothballed due to lack of funding

Families at the port

“We hope now the council will look to accommodate us and our old, sick and children at school rather than taking us to court to put us on the side of the road,” said a member of the Traveller family staying at Ramsgate Port following a High Court quashing of a section 77 eviction notice.

The notice was served on the family at the Port by Thanet council in December 2021 but the Appeal Court has deemed it invalid after it concluded: “no attempt was made to give reasonable, or any, notice before the process of removing SO (the claimant) by the use of draconian powers was implemented.”

Pavee family members had been based at the port since June 2021.

On December 1 2021 another section 77 notice to leave the land was served on everyone staying at the port site, described as Unoccupied land, with the notice adding: “You (together with any other persons with you) are DIRECTED forthwith to leave the land and also to remove the vehicle or vehicles and any other property any of you have with you from the land.”

The case for the Traveller claimant was service of the notice was unlawful because  Thanet council, as occupier of the land, had permitted the claimant – and family – to enter and stay at the port in their vehicles and no notice had been given of any decision to withdraw consent before serving the section 77. This meant the claimant was not staying at the port without consent and the land is owned by the council so not ‘unoccupied.’

Thanet council argued that it did not need to tell the family consent to stay had been withdrawn and the eviction notice was enough to make them aware. However, the appeal court did not agree.

The families left the site on December 22 this year.

Court of Appeal quashes ‘draconian’ eviction notice served on Traveller family at Port

Eastenders filming in Margate Old Town Photo Frank Leppard

Scenes for BBC soap Eastenders were shot in Margate.

Crews filmed at locations including Wildes café. Characters included Lola Pearce-Brown played by Danielle Harold, Amy Mitchell played by Ellie Dadd, Bailey Baker played by Kara-Leah Fernandes and Lols’s husband Jay Brown, portrayed by Jamie Borthwick.

In the soap terminally ill Lola had discovered she only had a few months left to live. Brain Tumour Research worked with EastEnders on the storyline as Lola was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM).

Eastenders team filming scenes in Margate’s Old Town

May

Thanet Labour took 30 seats

Thanet council came under overall control of Labour following the local elections.

The return to control saw gains in wards including Westbrook, Northwood and Westgate.

The voting saw the loss of former council leader Conservative Ash Ashbee and Tory stalwart Bob Bayford who had held the Kingsgate seat for 32 years but lost it this time around to Independent Alan Munns. Conservative seats were cut by 8 from 25 to 17.

The result saw Labour double the number of seats held and meant the party secured overall control for the first time since 2003  with 30 seats out of 56.

Labour takes overall control of Thanet council in election success

Coronation fun in Birchington Photo Frank Leppard

From tea parties to knitted post box toppers and whole town and village events – Thanet took part in Coronation celebrations.

Whether marking the coronation of King Charles III and the Queen Consort or just taking advantage of the bonus bank holiday, people young and old enjoyed the fun with parades, street parties, town and parish council organised events and more.

Inside the Granville on opening night Photo Frank Leppard

Ramsgate’s Granville Theatre reopened for the first time in some three years.

Westwood One Ltd, which also operates Under 1 Roof Thanet in Pysons Road and Under 1 Roof Canterbury, completed the purchase of the site from Thanet council in 2022 and carried out renovations in preparation for the reopening.

The company, run by Ramsgate sisters Zahra and Parisa Tarjomani and Pyramid Martial Arts & Just Kids Parties owner Matt Milchard, hosted the opening gala with performances, speeches and a champagne reception.

Photos: A full house for the opening gala of Ramsgate’s Granville Theatre

Maternity services

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) told East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust that it had to make immediate improvements to its maternity services following an inspection in January which saw the service’s rating drop from requires improvement to inadequate.

CQC carried out an unannounced focused inspection of the trust’s maternity services at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate. The inspection was undertaken in response to concerns received about the culture, safety and quality of the services.

Immediately after the inspection, CQC imposed urgent conditions upon the trust requiring it to take action to ensure significant improvements were made to the environment and access to vital equipment in the maternity service.

Immediate improvements ordered as maternity at Margate and Ashford hospitals rated inadequate by CQC

Humber’s Mill project boundary

An outline planning application was lodged for the Humber’s Mill development of 1,461 homes, a two-form entry primary school, shops, cafes and health care services in a mixed use community hub and 22 hectares of green space at Nash Road.

The proposal from developer Axis Land Partnerships is for a 67-hectare site of predominantly agricultural land to the west of Nash Road, and close to Westwood Cross Shopping Centre and also includes a new strategic link road along Nash Road which will mean the demolition of two barns at Nash Court Farm and alterations to existing junctions from Nash Road and Manston Court Road.

Outline plan for 1,461 home Humber’s Mill development off Nash Road

Top grading for EKC Group colleges

EKC Group, which has colleges across east Kent including Broadstairs, was graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

The education watchdog gave top marks in every category. making EKC Group the first General Further Education college to achieve the highest rating in all categories since a new enhanced inspection framework was introduced the previous July.

The categories that EKC Group achieved ‘Outstanding’ in were: The Quality of Education, Behaviour and Attitudes, Personal Development, Leadership and Management, Education Programmes for Young People, Adult Learning Programmes, Apprenticeships, Provision for Learners with High Needs and a ‘Strong’ judgement for Skills; the highest an organisation can achieve.

EKC Group celebrates ‘Outstanding’ grading by Ofsted

June

Thanet Disabled Riding Centre members celebrate their win, presented by Joe Coshan of ITV Meridian

Thanet Disabled Riding Centre in Broadstairs won £63,880 of National Lottery funding after the public vote polled them as one of three winners for the region in this year’s The People’s Projects, run with ITV.

Thanet Disabled Riding Centre was one of five groups in ITV Meridian East in the running for a share of almost £250,000 of funding and were announced as one of the winners on June 1.

A swell of support meant the centre received the funding to be able to continue to provide riding and therapy sessions to Thanet’s disabled community benefitting them physically, mentally and socially.

The extra financial security also made it possible to add a new pony to the equine team to help reduce the long waiting lists and benefit more people.

Thanet Disabled Riding Centre wins vital funding in The People’s Projects

The Gabe’s Game fundraiser Photo Frank Leppard

Massive support for a football match in memory of young Broadstairs man Gabriel Farmer helped raise more than £3260 for a new mental health charity.

Gabriel lost his life to suicide on May 14 aged just 23. His mum Louise Knight had fought to get him help for depression and anxiety but struggled to access to professional services.

Louise is setting up the Angel Gabriel Charity, determined to help others and make sure no family has to endure the pain of losing a loved one to suicide.

The aim of the charity is to help people pay for private healthcare and therapy so they get the help and support immediately, when they need it, and not have to wait for weeks to get an appointment.

Charity football match in memory of Gabriel Farmer raises amazing £3,260

Housing plan for Minster (Image David Wilson Homes/Carlton Design Partnership)

A reserved matters application for the first phase of a 214 home development on agricultural land in Minster was approved.

Outline planning permission for the scheme was originally granted permission in September 2021 despite councillors’ concerns over traffic, school places, adequate medical facilities and the number of houses on the site.

The total application area is 34.67 acres, with proposed residential development and associated open space and services on approximately 32.27 acres and a reserve site of 2.40 acres proposed for the future extension to Minster Cemetery.

The land on the west side of Tothill Street, Minster, is owned by St. John’s College Cambridge and Spanton Farms Limited. The site is on a Special Protection Zone.

Barratt David Wilson Homes carry out the first phase for 133 dwellings at the northern area of the site which will be accessed via a new junction onto Tothill Street.

First phase of a 214 home development on agricultural land in Minster approved

The organisation working on the regeneration of The Oval Bandstand and Lawns in Cliftonville as part of the £22.2million Margate Town Deal said the project was ‘on hold’ due to Thanet council not releasing the funds in a disagreement over the grant agreement.

Grass (Gordon Road Area Street Scheme) Cliftonville was allocated £500,000 from the town deal in 2021 but, despite carrying out major works, the group was still waiting for £475,000 of the grant to be released.

The delay resulted in project leaders Stephen Darrer and Simon Bell saying they would find funding elsewhere and Stephen resigning his role on the Margate Town Deal board, which was set up to oversee the scheme.

In September 2019 Margate was announced as one of 100 towns across the country that would receive investment from the government’s Town Deals Fund.

In March 2021 a £22.2million grant was confirmed following the submission of a Town Investment Plan by Thanet council working with the newly created Margate Town Deal board.

The grant was later withdrawn by Thanet council.

The Oval bandstand project ‘brought to stand-still’ in row over release of Margate Town Deal funding

Ronan Higginson – Countdown champ

Ramsgate teenager Ronan Higginson stormed through the finals of Channel 4’s Countdown to be named the champion of the 87th series.

The 17-year-old, dubbed Hurricane Higginson by show hosts, also racked up the highest points tally in any final in the series 40 year history.

The Ursuline College year 12 student made his debut of series 87 of the show in May and recorded some stunning successes.

His first appearance was against five-game winner Jonathan Seal which Ronan won with 132 points to Seal’s still comparatively impressive 98 points. It was also the highest joint score in a preliminary game under the new 15 round format; a record unbeaten for nine-and-a-half years.

Ronan was only the second octochamp (eight game champ) of the series and lays claim to equalling a four-year-old record for the highest margin of victory in a game of Countdown He is one of just five players to have scored more than 1,000 points.

In the final, hosted by Colin Murray and Rachel Riley with Susie Dent in Dictionary Corner, Ronan was competing against another octochamp, Cillian McMulkin in what Colin Murray branded “a clash of the titans.”

Ursuline College student Ronan took the title with 150 to 83 points.

Ramsgate teenager ‘Hurricane Higginson’ storms to victory as Channel 4 Countdown champ

July

Housing

Thanet council announced plans to ‘significantly’ speed up its affordable housing development with the aim of providing at least 400 social homes by 2027.

Councillors also approved a £7.485m spend to buy 51 new homes to “kickstart” the programme.

These were made up of 42 properties at the Spitfire Green development by Barrett Homes at a cost of £5m and 9 properties at Westwood using £1.19million of funding from a national £500 million scheme to enable local authorities to purchase properties for Ukrainian and Afghan refugee households for an initial period of 3 years. Thanet council match-funded the grant with £1.996million from its housing capital programme.

Thanet council plan to ‘significantly’ speed up delivery of affordable homes and plans for new temporary accommodation

Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council said it would carry out a review of Northdown Park, including the facilities and buildings within it.

The authority said until the review was complete there would be no decisions made about renewing leases at Northdown House or the Secret Jungle play area.

Thanet council owns the entire site. Your Leisure held the lease for Northdown House although the company is now based at Discovery Park and issued notice that it was terminating that lease.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “The buildings and facilities at Northdown Park are due to be reviewed. This review will  explore and identify ideas for the future use of the park’s buildings. It will involve an assessment of the existing structures to determine their condition and identify any necessary repairs.

“We’ll decide what improvements need to be made when we’re clearer about how the site will be used in the future. Responsibility for the renovations will be based on the types of leases we offer.”

Attempts to sell Northdown House, in the 1970s and in 2008, were thwarted following public campaigning and recognition that covenants on the site would make the sale unprofitable.

Council to carry out ‘full review’ of Northdown Park, including Northdown House and Secret Jungle

Satinder Bancil and Anna Markova from Pascall + Watson with early plans for port uses

Architects working on Ramsgate’s Levelling Up projects shared early designs and details with residents at a drop-in event.

Firms Curl La Tourelle, Pascall + Watson and Jan Kattein are commissioned by Thanet council to work on five schemes across the Port and harbour and a Newington Community Centre project being funded by £19.8m of Levelling Up money awarded to the town by central government in 2021.

Plans on display showed early designs for an expansion of Newington Community Centre. There were also designs for the Green Campus project at Ramsgate Port which will create spaces for training, enterprise and light industry along Military Road: first stage designs for a new fishing facility on the East Crosswall at Ramsgate Royal Harbour: plans for  refurbishment of existing Post Infrastructure, including two roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) berths  with the aim of finding an operator for ferry/cargo transport services: and designs for the Sailors’ Church/Smack Boys Home scheme and the Clock House/Pier Yard project.

Early designs revealed for £19.8m Levelling Up Fund projects at Ramsgate port, harbour and Newington Community Centre

Dr Bill Kirkup

A national taskforce was to be set up to review “maternity and neonatal improvement programmes” across the UK in response to an independent investigation into maternity failings at QEQM and William Harvey Hospitals which found 45 baby deaths could have been avoided.

Minister for women’s health strategy Maria Caulfield MP, chairing the task force, announced the measure as part of the government’s response to the inquiry carried out by Dr Bill Kirkup and his team.

NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup in 2020 to carry out an independent review into the circumstances of the maternity deaths at the East Kent Hospitals Trust sites in response to a concerning number of avoidable baby deaths.

Issues with maternity were brought into the spotlight following the death of baby Harry Richford at Margate’s QEQM Hospital in 2017 after a series of errors.

An independent report said he might have survived had there not been a delay in resuscitation at his birth that caused irreversible brain damage.

Some 200 families came forward to the Kirkup review over the preventable deaths of their babies.

National maternity and neonatal task force to be created in response to East Kent Hospitals baby deaths inquiry

Thanet Parkway station Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet Parkway Station opened some 13 years after the scheme was first proposed and at a cost that quadrupled from an estimated £11m in 2015 to more than £44m.

It was officially opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony several weeks later, in September, by Rail Minister Huw Merriman.

The minister attended the celebratory opening event alongside invited guests and senior representatives from Network Rail, Southeastern, Kent County Council, Thanet District Council and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Thanet Parkway Station opening – quadrupled cost and the anticipated ‘boost’ to housing development

August

Wilko in Ramsgate

Household and garden retail chain Wilko collapsed into administration.

Wilko had approximately 400 stores across the UK, including stores in Ramsgate and Westwood, and employed about 12,000 people. Thanet stores closed in September.

Retail chain Wilko collapses into administration

Tracey Emin is the new owner of the Westbrook Loggia (Photo TDC)

Thanet District Council agreed the sale of the Westbrook Loggia building at Westbrook Bay to artist Tracey Emin.

Tracey Emin’s plans for the renovation of the building include a community bathers club with café, hot showers, toilet facilities, sauna and winter club room on the ground floor.

The first floor will provide a range of facilities including a large art studio, gym, restaurant and a hot desk station. The roof area will be transformed into a sunbathing area with refreshment facilities.

The Loggia building was identified in 2020 as a key site to deliver improved experiences and facilities all year round. The building is currently empty except for a section occupied by Thanet Lifeguard Club, who will remain as tenants. A feasibility report suggested some £4.06million would be needed to refurbish the site.

Westbrook Loggia building transferred to artist Tracey Emin after sale agreement

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

Manston processing centre was one of three sites where survey work was to be carried out as part of proposals for ‘rapid construction’ at immigration premises.

The Home Office agreed a £1.1million contract with UK construction firm Laing O’Rourke which was one of four firms appointed by the Ministry of Justice in 2021 for a £1billion New Prisons Programme.

The Home Office project was for “Design Services for a detained accommodation solution for the Home Office.”

The brief specifies consulting “with Home Office to ascertain the requirements for Males, Females and Family detainees including site visits and attendance at meetings.”

The contract coincided with work to demolish and redevelop 10 buildings at the former MoD site. It was later revealed (in December) that Thanet council learned through Kent County Council that the government is planning to build a secure migrant removal centre on the Manston site. The plans include accommodation for 360 people at the outset, later to rise to 700.

A new contract published by government this month (December), with an estimated value excluding VAT of £700m over a term of 6 years said: “The Home Office is currently transforming the site at Manston to establish permanent, purpose-built facilities, coordinated by the Manston Transformation Programme.”

Manston centre to be surveyed as part of ‘rapid construction’ proposal to ‘scale up detention capacity’

Thanet council leader calls on Home Office to be open over ‘removal centre plans’ at Manston

Abandoned Sunningdale housing development in St Nicholas at Wade Photo Mike Garner

Sunningdale House Developments went into administration.

Cg & Co was appointed at the High Court of Justice following an application by secured creditor West One Loan Ltd

Related firms also listed as in administration were Sunningdale House (Heritage Farm Three) and Sunningdale House Developments (TW One)

Seven administration applications were filed to the High Court against Sunningdale House companies and HF Developments.

Applications for winding up petitions and notice to appoint an administrator were also listed as being lodged.

Six High Court applications for administrative orders have been made by West One Loan Limited which has charges against the companies in relation to loans.

West One Loan Limited was one of three secured charge holders, who are taking steps to “trigger” the insolvency process.

Sunningdale developments across east Kent include Eden Grove in Minster, Heritage Fields and The Stables  in St Nicholas-at-Wade and South Cliff Place in Broadstairs.

Sunningdale House Developments in administration

The grid facility will be built with cabling through this nature corridor Photo Nik Mitchell

Permission was granted for ‘large scale’ development of an electricity grid facility with cables going through a ‘vital wildlife corridor’ between Minster Marshes and Pegwell Bay.

The development will include four buildings, compensators, electrical infrastructure, underground cabling, access tracks, drainage, fencing and two bridges over the Minster stream.

The application was submitted by a subsidiary of Transmission Investment.

TI ProjectCo 2 said the development is needed “to stabilise the local grid network, ensuring that a stable voltage is maintained, and electrical transmission is unaffected.”

The grid facility will be in the middle of a field adjacent to the Weatherlees water treatment works and is in the  Sandwich Bay to Hacklinge Marshes Site Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); adjacent to Ash Level and South Richborough Pasture Local Wildlife Site and within 1km of Sandwich and Pegwell Bay nature reserve.

Permission granted for large scale grid facility with cables through ‘vital wildlife corridor’ between Minster Marshes and Pegwell Bay

September

A man was charged with murder over the death of 54-year-old Claire Knights.

Claire was reported missing from Upstreet on Wednesday 23 August and she was found deceased in Minnis Bay, where she had gone to walk her dog, three days later.

Harrison Lawrence-van Pooss, from Margate, was charged with murder. He was also charged with voyeurism following an investigation into a separate incident in which ‘upskirt’ images of a woman were covertly taken on Tuesday 22 August in Birchington.

The 20 year old is scheduled to go to trial on June 4, 2024. He is currently being held at a psychiatric unit in Maidstone.

Man charged with murder of Claire Knights

Tomas Eriksson

A mostly wet summer and train strikes affecting tourism to the isle and the cost of building overheads prompted the decision to shut down Waverley House in Margate.

The restaurant and venue space closed it doors on September 24 after a “ very challenging 18 months.”

Sadly the closure meant the loss of seven full-time jobs and some part-time positions although all staff and suppliers were paid in full and all party bookings were issued full refunds.

Waverley House was opened by Tomas Eriksson in 2022 following the huge success of his pop-ups at Cliffs in Cliftonville and then his first restaurant venture in 2019 alongside son Rio with New Street Bistro in the town.

The dad-of-four invested in the former ‘Morgans’ building on the High Street to create the restaurant, apartments and event space.

But, despite being a firm favourite with many locals, poor tourist trade this year meant the costs were just too much to sustain.

‘Very challenging 18 months’ leads to sad closure of Waverley House in Margate

Manston airport Photo Frank Leppard

An application to quash the development consent order for Manston airport plans to go ahead was denied.

The DCO was initially granted in July 2020 when the Department of Transport approved the application to create an air freight hub at the site.

It was quashed in the High Court in February 2021 following a legal challenge launched by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes and supporters which resulted in the Secretary of State conceding the decision approval letter issued from the Minister of State did not contain enough detail.

The DCO was granted for a second time in August 2022 by then Transport Minister Karl McCartney.

In response Ms Dawes launched a second Judicial Review application in a bid to halt the airport plans and crowdfunded £75,000 in pledges to pay for the action.

The judicial review application was initially dismissed by Mr Justice Lane in January but then allowed on partial grounds in a review by Mrs Justice Lieven in March.

At a hearing before Honourable Mr Justice Ian Dove in July the focus was on the process for two areas -whether need for the airport was correctly assessed and  whether due consideration was given to what impact the scheme might have on the Government’s ability to meet its future carbon reduction targets.

Barristers representing the Claimant Jenny Dawes, the Defendant the Secretary of State for Transport and the Interested Party RiverOak Strategic Partners put their cases to the judge.

Mr Justice Dove issued a lengthy judgement dismissing the application. The following month (October) Ms Dawes applied for permission to appeal against the judgement but this was denied.

Ms Dawes then applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. An outcome is awaited.

Legal bid to quash Manston airport development consent is denied

Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay was placed in an induced coma due to sepsis.

The Conservative MP was rushed to hospital with sepsis on September 28 and suffered multiple organ failures.

In a post to social media the following month the father-of-one said: “On Thursday 28 September I was rushed into hospital with the potential for sepsis. This was indeed correct and I was placed into an induced coma with multiple organ failures.

“Treatment has been exemplary by all NHS staff and I can’t thank them enough. I am now on a slow road to recovery with services to constituents maintained by my East Kent and London offices.”

South Thanet MP recovering after induced coma due to sepsis

October

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

Early designs, details and timelines went 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 wellbeing project is Margate Skatepark (allocated £750,000).

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

Dane Valley Arms proposal HazleMcCormackYoung LLP/ Chartered Architects/)

Thanet council was allocated £685,275 of government funding, which will be used to support the building of homes on brownfield sites

The funding, through the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Brownfield Land Release Fund, will go towards phase four of the council’s programme with 49 new homes being built. They will form part of the council’s social housing stock and will be rented out to households on the housing register.

Locations have been identified at Tomlin Drive, Dane Valley Road and the former Dane Valley Arms site in Margate, and Staner Court and Clements Road in Ramsgate. All of these are brownfield sites, which means the land has been previously developed. They are all owned by the council, and currently have either disused garages or laundry drying areas on them.

Grant of £685k to be used towards 49 new council homes

National Grid plans on display at a drop-in event Photo Ruth Brackstone Bailey

A statutory public consultation over National Grid plans to build a 60,000 square metre (6 hectares) onshore converter station at Minster marshes in the Stour Valley began.

The Sea Link project involves creating a subsea electricity cable between Suffolk and Kent which National Grid says will help deliver the UK’s energy security strategy and net zero targets.

The proposals outline a preferred route of 10km of onshore and 140km of undersea cables, together with potential landfall and converter station locations at Friston substation in Suffolk and at Richborough.

National Grid’s preferred route runs from a landfall in Pegwell Bay to a proposed converter station site and high voltage pylons over the land to the south of Minster.

The converter station will be 26 metres high and have external equipment such as lightning protection and walkways. A new substation would be built adjacent to it.

Some overhead lines will be removed and replaced with new lines from the converter to the existing Richborough to Canterbury line.

Statutory consultation ran from October 24 until December 18.

Consultation dates for National Grid converter station plan at wildlife rich Minster marshes

Ramsgate market Photo Maxine Morgan

Thanet council announced Bray Associates as the new operator for Ramsgate’s weekly market.

The town centre, Friday market shut when covid restrictions were brought in during March 2020. It briefly reopened in June of that year but issues around placement meant the market closed again. A new site proposed for Pier Yard car park on the seafront was scuppered at the 11th hour.

Traders were then given the go-ahead to use Staffordshire Street car park, taking space in several disabled parking bays. But there was a drop in traders taking part on Fridays and none willing to set up for business at the site on Saturdays.

The low number of stalls meant falling income, with then-operator Hughmark making a decision to cease trade in the town.

Bray Associates currently manage markets for 13 local authorities. Thanet council says this understanding of market operations will be key to relaunching the new enterprise in Ramsgate.

Bray Associates plans to launch the new market in Ramsgate in April 2024, and expects to have between 15 and 30 traders. The market will be held on Ramsgate High Street, King Street and Queen Street.

Operator announced for relaunch of Ramsgate’s weekly market

November

Rams through to the 2nd round

Ramsgate FC made club history as the team went through to the 2nd round of the Emirates FA Cup after a 2-1 win over Woking.

Team and fans of the Isthmian League South East side were jubilant following the victory at the WW Martin stadium on November 4 over  National League  Woking.

Ramsgate goals were scored by Lee Martin and TJ Jadama.

The memorable game was played in front of a 3000 strong crowd.

The mighty Rams were pitched against AFC Wimbledon in December, exiting the FA Cup after a 5-0 defeat.

Ramsgate FC make club history going through to 2nd round of Emirates FA Cup

Discovery Park

Pfizer announced it will shut Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule (PSSM) at Discovery Park with a loss of 500 roles as part of cost cutting measures.

The pharmaceutical firm plans to cut $3.5 billion worth of jobs and expenses across its business due to falling sales of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Several US sites and one in Ireland have already been impacted and in November staff at the PSSM operations at Discovery Park were informed of the cuts.

The announcement was made by Pfizer senior vice president PSSM Andrew McKillop.

A 45 day ‘consultation period’ is still taking place.

Pfizer to shut Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule operations at Discovery Park affecting 500 staff

Thanet Safe Haven moved from Holy Trinity to QEQM Hospital

The Thanet Safe Haven, providing support for people in mental health crisis,  moved from its base at Holy Trinity Church in Dane Valley to the QEQM Hospital grounds.

The safe haven was one of four agreed in 2019 after funding from NHS England was allocated for to Kent and Medway NHS.

The successful bid, made by Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), was to fund the havens aimed at helping people who need urgent mental health care and support across the county.

Thanet Safe Haven opened online amid the pandemic in April 2020 and finally had a physical opening at the church in November of that year.

It is open for those who need support from 6pm-11pm every day (including weekends and bank holidays) and is operated by Mental Health Matters, which has over 35 years’ experience in delivering support to those with complex mental health support needs.

Mental Health Matters say the haven moved because “both clinical and non-clinical support services need to work closer together.”

Thanet Safe Haven to be moved from Holy Trinity Church to QEQM mental health unit

Ethan with mum Keena

The mum of a teenager who died in a crash on Dumpton Park Drive in October launched a petition asking Kent County Council to install speed calming measures.

Ethan Entwistle was just two days away from his 19th birthday when the car he was a passenger in with a friend and two associates was crashed into a tree on Dumpton Park Drive.

Sadly, despite the efforts of his friend Ben Brazil, who was also a passenger in the car, to carry out CPR until medics arrived, Ethan did not survive.

An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and bailed pending further enquiries.

Mum Keena launched the petition in the hope that safety measures can prevent the loss of someone else’s loved one.

In December KCC installed a new bend warning sign with accompanied slow marking and new verge marker bollards.

Mum of teenager killed in Dumpton Park Drive crash launches petition for road safety measures

Council leader Rick Everitt at Margate Winter Gardens

It was announced that sale of the Winter Gardens in Margate was no longer an option with the preference being an operator on a long lease.

Speaking while at the site’s main hall, Cllr Rick Everitt said marketing by consultants Collier will aim to find a ‘best value’ proposal with a priority on the leisure uses rather than just the highest bid.

In March the council, then run by a Conservative administration, agreed that all options for either lease arrangements, operator agreement or sale for Margate Winter Gardens would be kept open

At that time there was a plea from Cllr Helen Whitehead that a full repairing lease agreement would be given priority over sale of the Grade II listed building.

A long lease option has now been given preference. Cllr Everitt said: “Sale is not on the table. We are looking at a long lease that allows us to protect the building to be used for what the community wants.

“There is no possibility of housing on this site, we are not going down that road.”

However, the council leader acknowledged that whoever takes on the building will need to spend millions to make it fit for a modern audience while still retaining cultural and heritage aspects.

He said: “The costs (are estimated) at £6million but in  the real world, over a period of time and with inflation, it is likely to be more.”

The building hosted its last performance in August 2022 during the Margate Soul Festival before the lease was returned to Thanet council by Your Leisure and the doors were shut in readiness for an appraisal report on the venue and its future uses.

Sale of Margate Winter Gardens no longer ‘on the table’ with long lease option now preferred

Southern Housing told residents in two Margate blocks they must move out by May next year due to structural issues and the company will then demolish their homes.

The formal process to end tenancies for those living in Weymouth House and Stratford House in Eaton Place will begin in the new year due, says Southern Housing, to the ‘significant structural repairs’ that are needed.

The landlord says all tenants of the 78 flat site must be out by May 2024.

Stratford House has 36 one and two-bed flats that are rented as social housing. It is expected that Southern Housing will rehome these residents.

However, Weymouth House, which has 42 one and two-bed flats, is market rental and Southern Housing will not be relocating these residents to new properties.

Southern Housing said it will help people to look for new homes but told Weymouth House residents that their tenancies are the same as a private landlord agreement and “we simply don’t have enough homes to rehouse everyone that will need to move.”

Southern Housing said it had met with Thanet council which advised tenants who need help to register via Kent Homechoice.

Residents at Southern Housing flat blocks in Margate told homes will be shut down and then “demolished”

Pie Factory Music protested against the cuts earlier this year

It was confirmed that cuts to threatened youth services across Kent are to go ahead next year to save the cash-strapped county council around £900,000.

Despite a public backlash and fears of a rise in gang crime and mental health issues, the decision to proceed with the closure of established facilities was rubber-stamped on November 30.

The cabinet at Kent County Council (KCC) decided to adopt a Government-led scheme to bring essential services under one umbrella called Family Hubs.

The new funding arrangement will see the end of KCC subsidies for youth clubs and activities currently commissioned by the council but run by outside organisations.

Young people and staff from Pie Factory Music held a protest in August against the proposed cuts which will mean a loss of 45% of Pie Factory’s income, hitting the services it provides in Thanet and Dover.

The cuts also hit The Pavilion Youth & Community Café in Broadstairs and have a “life changing” impact on hundreds of young people and families, said manager Victoria Suchak.

The Pavilion hosts four youth sessions each week alongside family clubs, baby groups, mornings attended by grandparents and a range of events, trips and professional skills to help with mental health, sexual health, drug and alcohol abuse and work with children in care.

But Kent County Council proposals to withdraw funding for commissioned youth services by next March will see the loss of half The Pavilion’s income.

Cuts to Kent youth services to go ahead despite protests

Thanet council revealed proposals for the upgrade of Jackey Bakers rec in Ramsgate that would include a sports hub, new pitches for sports including basketball and skate/BMX facilities, nature trails and 27 homes on a strip of land off Highfield Road.

The proposals, created by Corstorphine & Wright Ltd, show two football pitches, an ‘urban’ skatepark area, cricket, tennis, hockey and netball areas, sports hub building and a proposed café as well as the homes.

However, the masterplan is only to  illustrate the potential for the site, including possible locations for new parking facilities, new pavilion and the upgrading of the sports offer, with no decision yet made on layout.

A public engagement exercise will also be carried out to gain views for the new proposals at  Jackey Bakers, and the council will investigate the options for a future development on the site, to include a new car park, new pavilion (to include changing facilities) and other sporting/recreational facilities A spend of £370,000 has been approved for the demolition of the existing pavilion and the provision of a temporary portacabin.

The works follow the presentation of a 1,500 signature strong petition to councillors in June.

In it, campaigners asked for Jackey Bakers to overhauled with improvements including extra bins, benches along the main path and outer edges of the football pitches, a changing facility complete with running hot water for showers and toilets, improved pitches for footballers and other sports, a larger play area, skate park and a car park.

Masterplan created for proposals to upgrade Jackey Bakers rec in Ramsgate

December

Mighty Rams faced Wimbledon Photo Louis McLaren

Ramsgate exited their Emirates FA Cup journey after a 5-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon.

The Rams were the lowest ranked team in the second round buthad numerous wins on their journey to the FA Cup, including a 2-1 win over National League Woking last month.

The team, and 1,500 fans aboard 20 coaches, travelled to the Cherry Red Records Stadium on December 4.

The match was screened live on ITV4 meaning the Rams picked up a broadcast fee of £60,000.

The build up to the game was huge with The Emirates FA Cup and Sky cameras visiting manager Ben Smith at work as deputy head at Hartsdown Academy; interviews screened on BBC and a Road to Wimbledon FA cup song performed by Thanet’s Luke J Dorman and the SuperMicks.

Pitchside: Ramsgate exit the Emirates FA cup

Early design for the Theatre Royal by Lee Evans Partnership

Early designs for a ‘performing arts hub’ with Margate Theatre Royal and neighbouring 19 Hawley Square went on display at the historic venue at a drop-in event.

The aim is to secure £3.2m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, in addition to the £2.2m allocated from Margate’s Town Deal, to renovate the Grade II* listed theatre and link it to 19 Hawley Square which will be developed into a theatre production space with a bar, café, studio theatre, recording studio and rehearsal rooms.

The Hawley Square venue, which was believed to have historically been The London Hotel, will also have offices and accommodation for touring theatre companies.

Proposals to fund the project also include applying to the Arts Council for the Cultural Development Fund, which will be launched in 2024.

A projected reopening date has been set for May 2027.

Thanet council is also searching for a new operator for the venue.

Three potential operator models are being considered; a commercial venture, an existing theatre company (charitable venture) looking to relocate, or a local consortium (to set up a new trust).

Early designs and a projected 2027 reopening date revealed for Margate’s Theatre Royal

Dreamland

Dreamland company Sands Heritage was taken over by LN Gaiety Holdings, a subsidiary of concert and festival giant Live Nation.

Documents on Companies House show LN-Gaiety listed as taking significant control on Thursday December 14, meaning it is the new owner of Dreamland.

New directors include Stuart Douglas and Lynn Lavelle, who are also directors for Live Nation Apollo and Cardiff and a number of festival companies including Boomtown Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Cream Events and more.

Live Nation Entertainment is an American events promoter and venue operator based in Beverly Hills which has numerous subsidiaries including Live Nation UK which owns 51% of Academy Music Group, giving it a stake in most major music festivals.

A statement from LN Gaiety said: “LN-Gaiety confirms it has acquired Dreamland in Margate.  Working with CEO Eddie Kemsley, the team will enhance its offer at this much-loved resort.

“Dreamland is the ultimate seaside destination for music, rides, and entertainment with great artists in 2024 including Status Quo, Madness, Richard Ashcroft, Becky Hill, Limp Bizkit, Craig David and many more.”

A Dreamland spokesperson added: “We are delighted that LN-Gaiety has become the new owner of Dreamland in Margate. The acquisition ensures the legendary venue can carry on providing world class entertainment for people of all ages.

“It is very much business as usual for Dreamland, we look forward to re-opening our historic amusement park at Easter for another summer season, as well as welcoming some of the very best live bands and acts both in our indoor spaces and next summer on the amazing Scenic Stage.”

Festival and concert giant Live Nation new owner of Dreamland

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