Talks are taking place with prospective new backers after it was confirmed Hornby Hobbies will not build its visitor centre at Ramsgate Harbour.
The Scalextric and model train giant, which sold its site in Margate for £2.25 million following a move of distribution to Hersden in 2014 and office functions to Discovery Park in 2015, had planned to create the centre next to the maritime museum.
Developer Jack Baker, of Neath Properties, took on the £3.7million scheme and has already carried out work on the historic slipways as part of the project.
Designs for the visitor centre had depicted a building in the late Victorian or Any Edwardian style.
But marketing agent for the project Jon Dahms, of the Property Management Company, confirmed that Hornby have advised they will not be proceeding with the centre at Ramsgate Harbour despite exchanging contracts for the sale of the Margate site in Ramsgate Road.
Mr Dahms said: “This is a massive disappointment to both ourselves and the developers, Neath Properties Ramsgate Ltd, who had held on and kept faith with Hornby since they first signed Heads of Terms in June 2015.
“The proposed development was tweaked and customised with a further planning consent and Neath Properties have had a further 18 months of rent and business rates to pay on the site in the intervening period; as well as enduring extreme pressure from TDC’s planning department over the various delays. “One positive to draw from the delays is that the building now consented is a far better one than would otherwise have been built thanks to the input of local architects Del Renzio & Del Renzio.”
Mr Dahms confirmed there has been interest in the site from other parties.
He said: “It is ours and our client’s stated aim to support the creation of a visitor attraction at the site and we have already started developing discussions with other interested parties. It would be all too easy to fall back on a simple leisure use for the site but we believe Ramsgate needs a tourist attraction to complement the existing café culture and excellent marina and beach. As soon as an end-user is identified construction of the £2m building project will commence.
“ Ideally the property would have been built and open by now but the wait for Hornby has kept everything in Limbo. At least now we know they are not going to commit we can direct 100% of our energies into finding another solution.”
A spokesman for Hornby Hobbies said: “As announced on 7th February 2017 we have now exchanged contracts for the sale of the site at Margate and as part of this deal we have agreed to lease back part of the site for the existing Hornby Visitor Centre and retail outlet. This secures the medium term future of the visitor centre and therefore Hornby will not be progressing the option to invest in a new visitor centre at Ramsgate.”