Refurbishment, cafe and seating plan for Northdown Park Pavilion takes step forward with lease invite

Refurb plans for Northdown Park pavilion Photo Scott Manclark

Future use of the Northdown Park pavilion in Margate with refurbished changing rooms and toilets, a café/kiosk and  additional sheltered seating have taken a step forward with Thanet council inviting expressions of interest to take on the lease.

Last year plans for the pavilion revealed by the council in response to a petition raised by Palm Bay dad-of-two Scott Manclark asking the authority to work with a private operator to fund, open and run a café with some covered space.

The petition, which was launched in June 2023 and gained 539 signatures, asked for the café to also provide much-needed toilets in the park.

Scott created the petition after the café idea was raised by Reverend Stuart Gay, from St. Philip’s Church in Summerfield Road, who said a café at the site could help reduce anti-social behaviour incidents.

Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council has now announced that it is offering a lease for the Northdown Park Pavilion and is inviting people to submit expressions of interest.

The structure is available to lease for up to 10 years, at a cost of £7,000 per year, on a full repairing and insurance basis. The terms will include a six month rent-free period to allow for refurbishment and fit-out.

Use of the Pavilion is restricted to sports and recreational activities. There is potential for a café within the existing building and a covered seating area could be installed, subject to planning consent.

As a condition of the lease, the toilets must be refurbished and made available for public use when the building is open. They can be accessed from outside the building. In addition, the changing rooms must be made available for hire by visiting sports teams.

The sports pitches next to the pavilion can be licensed separately for £1,000 per annum, subject to necessary consents. Use is restricted to sports and recreational use.

Cllr Ruth Duckworth

Cllr Ruth Duckworth, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Property, said: “The Northdown Park Pavilion has the potential to provide a focus for community activities and a social space for parents of children using the play area nearby.

“Having easy access to places to play sports and take part in exercise is hugely important to the wellbeing of our residents.

“I very much hope the arrival of these additional facilities will encourage more use of the area for team and competitive sports as well as the number of children and families enjoying the existing play area.”

Cliftonville East Councillor Barry Manners has raised the issue of the pavilion twice in questions at recent full council meeting and said he welcomes the news.

He said: “The sports pavilion is yet another TDC property that has been allowed to fall into disrepair. It should be an asset that serves the community, but I’m well aware of the limitations of TDC’s finances and its track record of running non revenue building assets.

“It’s also worth noting that the needs of the community have changed since the pavilion was built over 50 years ago – not least of all because of an ageing population. I’d love to see the building back in use as a sports pavilion for local sports teams, as well as offering some sort of cafe concession to create a community hub.

“The pavilion is very close to the children’s play area and site of the proposed community fruit garden so there’s plenty of footfall. If you’re an established football or sports team looking for a home – this could be for you.”

Conservative group leader Reece Pugh said “Finding an operator for the sports pavilion will provide an opportunity for a dilapidated building to be refurbished and for the creation of a new local business”

Independent Kingsgate councillor Alan Munns said although he also welcomes the news he’d: “much rather have seen the millions of Levelling Up funding directed at grass roots opportunities like this, instead of tens of millions being poured into ‘grands projects’ with increasingly uncertain outcomes.”

East Kent FA members

East Kent Football Academy manager and chairman Dave Marlow says a sports hub is needed and he has launched a petition calling on the council to support this.

He said: “As the Chairman (of the club) and a local resident, I witness firsthand the urgent need for outdoor/green space where our children can play football. We have boys and girls aged 8-18 from Margate, Cliftonville, and surrounding areas who are desperate for such facilities.

“Our community is home to hundreds of young people with immense potential in sports. However, they are currently limited by the lack of adequate facilities where they can hone their skills, engage in healthy competition, and foster camaraderie among themselves.

“The establishment of a sports hub at Northdown Park will not only provide our youth with an outlet for their energy but also contribute significantly towards their physical health and mental well-being. It’s essential to note that according to Sport England’s Active Lives Survey (2019/20), children who have access to outdoor sports facilities are more likely to stay active than those without such access.”

Find the petition here

Anyone interested in the Northdown Park Pavilion lease should contact [email protected] for more information.

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is Friday 29 March.

Café/kiosk, loos and seating plan for Northdown Park pavilion


  1. It’s good to have all these projects commencing or proposed within Thanet as a whole. My concern will be when the money pot is empty. Will the present administration be going back to central government with a begging bowl forcing further restrictions on the residents.
    My further concern is the money allocated for some projects that are now proposed for the likes of the Winter Gardens. Will this be clawed back thus leaving the building as in the present condition.

    • Something that did surprise me today is the hall at the top of The Lido being refurbished – new windows (and curtains), and a nice paint job. Is this via public or private money?

  2. 6 months free rent £3.500 what refurbishment can you do for that toilets alone can cost more than that amount so council be more generous to entice someone to take it on

  3. There’s no faulting their chutzpah on the asking rent, but that aside, I’m pleased that TDC are at least attempting to find an operator for this building. I cannot imagine it having much, if any, commercial value.

    It should be a valuable sports focused community asset for a wide range of age groups for a diverse range of activities.

    I look forward to hearing more and will offer all the support I’m able to groups with the vision and resource wanting to make a go of this.

  4. What a bunch of brain dead idiots, that building is good for nothing except demolition, ask the council in Dover about Kersney Abbey cafe, that’s what is needed in Northdown Park. Also someone to run it with a bit of ambition.

  5. Typical tdc run into then expect others to repair adding value to the building. Then have the cheek to ask an over the top price for rent. So TDC get a rent and also a new building for doing nothing. Is this labours policy from now on

  6. Bit optimistic for the council to expect someone to chuck 100k plus into the place. ( complete refurb , needed along with a new roof and tank room by looks of it) be given only 6 months to get planning and do the works, then pay 7k for what will really be relatively few customers.
    Be interesting to see if anyone can make the numbers work.
    Does the council not have an obligation to start a lease off with a building in decent condition?

  7. Plans are also underway to refurbish and re-open the large building in the park, Northdown House, including a café. Would there be sufficient business to support both and enable both to make a profit?

  8. D&G, low numbers would soon increase if the council did something with the park I. E gardens footpaths and decent cafe with toilets, good parking etc. And the council should run the cafe, with a good manager keeping the profits for park use only.

    • An easy way in the past to flatter the accounts and move money to pet projects. Then once maintenance budgets have been reduced , there’s not much chance of them being reinstated.
      Plus the council has had a totally dysfunctional commercial property department for an unknown period of time.
      Of course no one will be held to account , the local government merry go round doesn’t allow for such a thing and so mediocrity and failure are a couple of areas in which councils excel.

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