Councillors to discuss £4.5m reallocation of Margate Town Deal funding

Funding will be reallocated from Dreamland and The Oval Bandstand to the Winter Gardens, Walpole Pavilion and the skate park

Cabinet members at Thanet council are due to discuss reallocating £4.5million of Margate Town Deal funding.

Margate was awarded £22.2m from the government’s Town Deal in March 2021. A £4million allocation had been earmarked for the renovation and reopening of the Dreamland cinema building to provide an entertainment and conference centre, with spaces for hospitality and catering and exhibitions and pop ups, as well as providing a base for the People Dem Collective group.

Photo Frank Leppard

Last month it was revealed the allocation had been turned down by the new owners of Dreamland – LN-Gaiety, which is a subsidiary of concert and festival giant Live Nation.

Dreamland CEO Eddie Kemsley said the company would be developing its own plan for the cinema building. Council officers are now engaging with the team at People Dem Collective to understand their position and any work they have been doing to identify a more permanent position for the charity.

Cabinet members meeting on March 14 will now discuss using that funding for the Margate Winter Gardens.

Margate Winter Gardens Photo John Horton

Following its return to the council in August 2022, the Winter Gardens in Margate was closed. Since then an in-depth survey of the building has taken place and the venue cleared to prepare for the renovation progress.

In November 2023, the first phase of the search for a new operator for the Winter Gardens launched in partnership with commercial real estate firm Colliers. The venue was marketed to potential new operators and investors, who were invited to conduct site visits and submit their initial Expressions of Interest.

Potential partners were asked to show their commitment to restoring the Winter Gardens as a venue for the whole of Thanet. The council has specified that while open to the venue being used for a range of leisure ideas, residential use is not an option.

A number of interested parties engaged with the marketing process and one formal expression was received which identified a need to work closely with the council to help deal with a funding gap.

This gap is based on the level of refurbishment needed and the Winter Gardens’ status as Grade II listed building. Previously a report to councillors said an immediate cost of £2.5m is needed for structural , building and mechanical and electrical works with a further £3.5m estimated over the next 10 years and total costs estimated at £6.25m. However, the costs are now likely to be much higher due to inflationary pressures.

Photo TDC

Thanet council says reallocating the £4m to the Winter Gardens will help secure an operator and unlock further private sector investment.

The Cabinet report proposes that the agents re-run the marketing campaign subject to approval on reallocating the funding. The aim is that the campaign will run for 3-4 weeks and will remain a two-stage process, the second part of which involves developing more detailed business plans.

When the marketing and evaluation exercise is complete, a further report setting out detailed proposals will be considered by Cabinet. The aim is that with the possibility of £4million available in funding to support the refurbishment of the building, more potential investors will come forward.

Photo Frank Leppard

Councillors will also discuss reallocating £500,000 which had been due to be spent on the Oval Bandstand and Lawns project in Cliftonville.

The recommendation is for £325,000 to be reallocated to the Walpole Bay Pavilion project and £175,000 allocated to the Skatepark project, in Cliftonville.

Plans for The Oval broke down after a disagreement between Grass Cliftonville, which took over the site in an asset transfer deal, and Thanet council over issues including the signing of the grant agreement.

Thanet council said until the agreement was signed it would not be possible to transfer any further public funds to the organisation.

But the GRASS directors said the contract contains clauses about publicity were are one-sided in favour of the council and a non-disclosure agreement – gagging order- was required.

GRASS decided to look for funding from a different source and Thanet council withdrew the offer in October last year.

Nic and Dan with draft skatepark plans in 2022

The skatepark project earmarked for the former putting green at Ethelbert Terrace is already allocated  £750,000, £100,000 from artist Tracey Emin and £59,000 from Thanet council. It will now likely be recipient of a further £175,000.

The project is headed up by Nic Powley and Dan Cates, from Margate Skateboard Club. The project includes investment in the construction of the skatepark and a kiosk facility to support driving an income to help with the costs of running the park. The skatepark will be free to access and open to all.

The pavilion scheme at Walpole has a £700,000 allocation and plans 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 or Bottom of Hodge’s Gap.

The additional funding will help with inflation pressures that are impacting regeneration schemes on the isle.

The funding will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on March 14.

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24 Comments

  1. Home improvements
    Holidays
    New car each

    Then what’s left over commission their friends company on how to brighten up Margate only to find they have enough left for dead flowers!!

    • Why do they keep trying to give funding to this People Dem Collective? I’m glad they turned it down if that was part of the deal

  2. Its an absolute disgrace that this money has been moved from the bandstand, what is wrong with our council.

  3. Does anyone know whether the Winter Gardens seating was (a) Loaned (b) Sold or (c) Given to the Granville?

        • Wasn’t it because of the cost of storage whilst the Wintergardens were closed and they’d deteriorate if left inside, however such “closed” sales can be seen to smack of cronyism and it would have been much more open if they’d been disposed of at auction.

  4. how much money has been allocated for the sally port to be used for bringing in migrants ? they dont want you to know about that one – watch this space

    • That would be a reasonable assumption given the failure to attract more funds at the time for the Wintergardens, of the finds are transferred hopefuLy a new operator is not hamstrung by having to support the DEM crowd.
      As for the Skate park , there really needs to be some signs of proper plans and costings before funds are released otherwise it has all the potential to become another disaster.

  5. GRASS is in Cliftonville you live in Birchington so you have no skin in the game, or you moving east.
    You don’t like GRASS and I am sure they don’t think much of you.It appears to be a contractual dispute and knowing TDC I can see why.
    As you don’t like either party why not give us all a break

      • Is this the erudite writer on past pop culture or raves from the grave as they are otherwise known? Not in Thanet there ain’t. Dearie Me.
        There could have been one in Ramsgate years ago, but alas and alack, TDC took a hand, and that alwyends badly.

  6. So, still nothing to be spent on the four sea shelters on the cliff top promenade that are rotting away and/or boarded up ?

    • Why bother? Tear them down. Every single time they have been refurbished they were destroyed within weeks. Unless you wish to place a 24/7 security guard at every one?

    • Still no fundraising for repairs by Margate residents? The shelters in Birchington and Minnis Bay have all been refurbished – thanks to the hard work of locals. So, stop moaning and do something!

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