Council Cabinet members approve £4m boost for Margate Winter Gardens

Margate Winter Gardens Photo TDC

By Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Esson

It has been confirmed that Margate Winter Gardens will receive a £4 million cash boost to address the “financial gap” identified by potential new operators and kick-start a council’s hunt for interested parties again.

The Winter Gardens has been shut since August 2022, when Your Leisure – the company which managed it – handed its lease back to the council.

Thanet District Council (TDC) originally allocated £300,000 to undertake surveys and marketing of the historic concert hall – built in 1911 – looking for companies to take over its management.

Margate Winter Gardens Photo John Horton

The authority is set to relaunch its marketing campaign following the “desperately needed” funding injection in an attempt to drum up more interest.

The project has received the extra money which was originally set for the “Destination Dreamland” project.

Dreamland was set to receive the cash from the Levelling Up Fund of £22.2 million allocated to TDC.

However, Dreamland’s owners said last month they would not be accepting that money and would instead develop their own plans for the Dreamland Cinema site.

At the end of last year, LN-Gaiety acquired a significant controlling interest in Sands Heritage, the then-owners of Dreamland.

LN-Gaiety is a joint venture between Live Nation and MCD Production’s Gaiety which, as of December, took ownership of more than 75% of the shares in Sands Heritage.

The global concert giant said it no longer required the government money, which was allocated to go towards the restoration of its art deco, seafront cinema building, meaning it needed to be allocated elsewhere.

TDC’s administration then proposed reallocating it to the Winter Gardens, which was approved at a meeting of the cabinet on March 14.

Council leader Rick Everitt at Margate Winter Gardens

Council leader Cllr Rick Everitt (Lab) told the cabinet: “We’re all anxious to get on and see things delivered.

“I think we’re all quite excited about having the £4m potentially available for the Winter Gardens and I’m sure we all probably recognise that that and the port in Ramsgate are the two highest profile projects that we’ve got.”

Opposition leader Cllr Reece Pugh (Con) added: “I really welcome the £4m from the Dreamland project is now going to be going towards the Winter Gardens. I think that’s a proposal that everyone can support

“It’s really encouraging that we can make something good of that and it provides a lot of the funding that I think is desperately needed so we can find an operator to take that on.”

The local authority has confirmed there has been one formal expression of interest in running the venue since it marketed it, and “a number of interested parties”.

The council has already spent or committed £162,000 of the £300,000 originally budgeted for the Winter Gardens on surveys and marketing the building through real estate agency Colliers.

A cabinet report explains that “a financial gap was a recurring theme” in responses to the marketing – with businesses saying the ailing concert hall needs expensive works done before it can be used properly.

TDC now intends to re-run the marketing campaign, which is expected to last three to four weeks, in a bid to entice bidders again with the additional funding now agreed.

The report explains the £4m is set to be “seed investment” into the Winter Gardens which will make the building more attractive to possible operators.

Council leader says reallocation of £4 million Town Deal funding turned down by Dreamland should be used for Margate Winter Gardens

New Dreamland owners LN-Gaiety turn down £4million of funding from Margate Town Deal

26 Comments

    • Not really, 4 million being thrown into a project that will end up with the Winter Gardens still being taken over by a private entity, have we not learnt anything from the Dreamland saga?
      It would be good if TDC was anle to retain control and run the facility itself. The 4 million would be much better put into the Theatre Royal and keep that as a TDC asset, or sell off the Theatre Royal and chuck it all into the Winter Gardens and retain that. As it stands we’ll be relinquishing control of both if the council has its way.

      • Beautiful though it is, The Theatre Royal has limited potential use. So personally I’d sell that off, and retain the Winter Gardens. Don’t forget, in the past the TR has been both a bingo hall and a furniture shop – so it doesn’t have to be a theatre (would make a nice Wetherspoons!).

        • I don’t really mind which was kept under council ownership, but don’t like the idea of losing both. However making a go of the Wintergardens Might prove to be a tall order now that Dreamland has an experienced and well financed owner.
          Hard nosed business as against a politically motivated council with a long history of failure and mismanagement. I know which horse i’d back, so TR might represent a better option for public ownership.

        • Yes it would make a lovely wetherspoons, people could sit with their food and take in the margate stench…

  1. Great scot ! Actually agree with the hermaphrodite Ms Pink. Winter Gardens are a hallmark of Margate but desperately needed modernising. Fingers crossed x.

  2. Although I agree in principal, I would really like to know what income for Thanet the Winter Gardens will generate. Gone are the days of summer shows for tourists, and it seems the venue for musical artists visiting Thanet is Dreamland. It really doesn’t leave a lot of corporate entertainment left. But I suppose the council have done there investigations into this and they regard it as a going concern, without selling it off, but i fear this will be yet another expense the local tax payer, will, in the end have to pay for.

    • Unless i’ve read it wrong , the 4 million is to be used to make the winter Gardens more attractive to a new operator, the council don’t seem to want to keep it , probably for the reasons you give.

  3. £4million to go towards plugging a ‘financial gap’???? What or whose financial gap? …and as ‘seed’ money WTF?!…..WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!….that’s £4million to dissappear, who is accountable for this money? Whose books will this be shown in?

    • Central government as that’s where it comes from. From elsewhere its been said that Your Leisure were allowed to walk away from their responsibilities under the lease/agreement they ran the various venues. How true that is I have no idea. Maybe someone canshed some light on the subject.

    • What’s not to like? Lol ask anyone taking in the fowl stench that is margate..never known such a rotten part of the uk

      • Outside Sheldons is a good place to appreciate the Eau de urine that wafts up the high street on a balmy summer breeze.

        • You’re obviously very familiar with all these places. Why not go somewhere decent? St. Nicholas, Westbere and Fordwich are only a bus ride away.

    • Surely if the lessons /failures of Your Leisure aren’t examined and quantified along with errors at Pleasurama and Dreamland, nothing will be learnt and it’ll be more likely TDC will blunder blindly into yet another mess of its own making.

  4. Your leisure did not bring any pleasure time to turn the page on them. They just try and run things on a shoestring and make a mess of it. If it was down to me
    I would appoint a project manager to oversee the repairs and maintenance. WW Martin the builders would be able to make that £4 million cover a lot of jobs and get the place open again. With money coming in from putting on some good shows would generate more cash to pay for on going repairs. The Conservatives administration just run the building down like they do with everything when they get their greedy hands on it.

    • Bill – the Conservative administration ran it down? Where have you been for the last fifteen years or so? Administrations of all political persuasions have overseen the demise of this building. In my opinion it’s doomed and will never recover to former glory’s. As for latest Council overseeing the resurrection, not one of them has one ounce of business acumen between them.

    • Rewiring the Turner Centre alone cost over a million , and that was in a building only a decade old, on which basis just rewiring the Wintergardens alone would be 2 million plus.
      There was a suggestion the place could be improved and run for 10 years on around 6 million, would the TDC staff involved be willing to put their pensions on it?
      Indon’t reckon you’d see change out of 20 million if you were to do a proper job on the place that intended to give it another 50 years of relatively trouble free use.

  5. It’s a prime site but well past it’s sell by date. Best to demolish most of it and build an accessible building including two lifts with one decent state-of-the-art auditorium and the curved sea view restaurant, with possibly a sun deck on the roof. Stop wasting money on expensive surveys. Bricks and mortar not endless hot air. Bring back the circus!

  6. A large percentage of the 4 million pounds will not end up in the actual building it will end up in the pen pushes pockets.
    £162000 already spent on surveys and marketing and nothing to show for it.

    • I believe it was sold to them, so no – but will the unspecified amount be put back into the Winter Gardens?

  7. Agree with Laura, unfortunately, the old building has to be demolished and replaced with another sea view project . Like most of Margate and the seafront from Turner to Bethesda it needs a complete overhaul, it wouldn’t take to long to do it if they can destroy Haine Road in a few months how long would it take to rebuild the seafront.

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