Ramsgate’s West Cliff Hall and Western Undercliff Cafe could be sold off by Thanet council

West Cliff Hall and Western Undercliff cafe and toilets have been added to the asset disposal list by TDC

The West Cliff Hall and Western Undercliff café and toilets in Ramsgate could be sold off as part of Thanet council’s asset disposal programme.

The properties have been added to the list of those the authority wants to sell  to help pay for continued investment in council assets.

The disposal of the next round of assets, first discussed in April, will provide income and cut council maintenance costs.

Last September Cabinet members agreed to the ‘accelerated’ sell-off  22 sites.

‘Savings’

The sell-off was aimed at saving £100,000 by this April. Thanet council wants to save £200,000 per annum over the following two years with more disposals.

A report to members in September said: “There is a financial imperative to accelerate disposals. The Medium Term Financial Strategy assumes ongoing cost savings in the maintenance of assets, achieved by rationalising the asset base; and the capital programme requires funding from receipts generated from asset disposals. At present there is a significant gap between receipts and capital programme commitments.”

Thanet council owns 600 properties and has a maintenance budget of £600,000pa.

Councillors voted: “To agree to further investigations being undertaken in respect of further properties to be listed and brought forward for disposal in the future.”

A 28 day consultation will be undertaken with ward councillors before a decision is made on the two additional properties.

West Cliff Hall

The West Cliff Hall has lain empty since the motor museum closed in 2005.

In 2009 Project MotorHouse – under the name Low Carbon Community Ramsgate – began research and consultation with the aim of bringing the building back into use.

The scheme, headed by Ramsgate resident and former Dr Who actress Janet Fielding, aims to rebuild the West Cliff Hall and create cinemas; theatres; bars; restaurants, offices and youth facilities.

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But in 2013 a structural survey showed the building’s frame was heavily rusted and had reached the end of its design life. It was regarded as dangerous in places and part of the Promenade was  fenced off.

Most of the internal plaster in the building is in very poor condition and few of the original features remain. The windows have been removed and the apertures boarded up. The toilet block, which supports the side of the road, is in poor condition.

Acting on the advice of a structural engineer and with the assistance of Thanet District Council, Project MotorHouse extensively propped the building.

Proposals for the renovation of the former concert hall, which originally opened in 1914, have been drawn up by  Guy Hollaway Architects.

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The renovation is expected to generate local jobs and, once operational, the annual projected revenue of £150k, will be used to finance creative and vocational youth work in Thanet.

The projects costs are expected to exceed the original £5m estimate because of the severe dereliction of the site but more than half of this has been raised through celebrity Dr Who events, art auctions and a crowdfunder page.

In a report to council Cabinet members this month it says: “There are opportunities through the disposal of West Cliff Hall, Ramsgate, to secure social, environmental and economic benefits. Further, given the nature of the building and its relationship to the esplanade, the disposal of this property will be subject to a ‘bespoke’ disposal process to both realise any social, environmental and economic benefits as well as securing the structural integrity of the esplanade.”

The Project MotorHouse team will be competing for the site.

Ms Fielding said: “It will be a competitive process but any developer will have to include social benefit. Frankly, I cannot see any commercial developer being interested in the site. Its uses are very limited.

“You have to include a lift down to ground level. It supports the first 40 metres of the Westcliff Promenade and the main access road to the harbour.”

Western Undercliff cafe

The Western Undercliff cafe and toilets have been shut since the property was severely damaged in October 2014 as the result of the failure of the main Southern Water sewer.  Following the clearance of contaminated waste from the site it  was found that the foundation slab of the property had been fractured, damaging the structural integrity of the building.

Thanet council had planned to demolish the site in 2015. It was put on an asset disposal list that year but then withdrawn.

Other council properties that Cabinet members have agreed for disposal:

Land at Phase 2 – Eurokent Business Park

Phase 1 – Eurokent Business Park

Land adjacent to 2 Park Place, Margate

Land at Hengist Road, Minnis Bay, Birchington

Palm Bay Coach Park

Quarterdeck, Zion Place, Margate

Properties agreed for disposal  to parish & town councils and community groups

Bandstand Victoria Parade, Broadstairs

Rossetti Gardens Birchington

Victoria Parade Kiosk Broadstairs

Ice House Ramsgate

Shelters

Dumpton Point; Epple Bay Birchington; Hengist Road Birchington; Alfred Rd Birchington; Shelter Opp Anna Park, Birchington; Shelter Opp Green Road Birchington; Shelter Opp Grenham Passage Birchington; Shelter Opp Palm Court Westgate; Shelter Opp Percy Ave Kingsgate; Shelter Opp St Mildreds Rd Westgate; Shelter The Parade Birchington; The Shelter Putting Green, Birchington; Clock tower shelter Victoria Gardens Broadstairs; Shelter Victoria Parade Broadstairs; Shelter Queens Ave Birchington

Added to the list and subject to 28 day consultation with ward councillors

Playing fields Lymington Road Westgate-on-Sea

Charlotte Court, Ramsgate

Albert Square, Ramsgate

West Cliff Hall – from concert venue to dilapidation and hopes for the future