Monday, 22 September 2008

Itsy bitsy, teenie weenie

The wraps have started to come off Cliff Terrace. I was saddened to see the size and layout of the ground floor of 14 and 15 (the corner building that is listed). What was previously the shop space has been turned into a ground floor and basement flat. Looking through the windows it's clear just how tiny the rooms are, made all the more tragic is the fact that these face directly onto the street with the old shop windows. I'd imagine the effect is a touch claustrophobic. The bedroom of one room opposite the Lido is so small it looks barely big enough to get a bed in and any furniture at all. There's something to be said for increasing the minimum floor space rather than concentrating on the minimum number of bedrooms.

One other revelation is that TDC social housing didn't want anything to do with the development because the units are so small.If this is true, it makes a mockery of the deal set up with TDC's Empty Properties dept. to renovate the building and bring it back into use with a view to providing some social housing. Secondly, I'm told the building has been sold on from Mr Ward to a social housing group. It's such a shame that a more dignified use and renovation couldn't have been put forward for the building. One that provides room sizes that people are happy to live and function in. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but Cliftonville is full of greedy over development that no one would actively choose to live in.


  1. Just this afternoon I noticed how nice it was starting to look from the outside. For such a quality building what a shame it has been carved up like that. I have just looked at the plans, and it looks like all the flats have been made as small as possible to comply with the regulations. This building is beautiful and should have taken the lead for regenerating that part of the area.

    This is an example of business stupidity which will significantly affect our environment. If the developer was aiming at the buy-to-let market he was wrong because the prices were too high to make them a viable investment. If he was aiming at the holiday home or Down From London market then he was also wrong because people like this don't want rabbit hutches and trade kitchens! The bank must have been completely stupid to back this project (and I suspect they know that now).

    Unfortunately, the developer was never going to sell the flats for a decent price in this economic climate which of course is not his fault. I suspect he was forced into selling to a housing association at a low price to cut his losses. With a bit of luck they were not actually sold and have just been leased out for a few years until the credit crunch has disappeared and Margate has become a desirable place to live?! I do hope so, but this isn't going to help regeneration in the short-term. I'll keep my eye on the land registry.

    I do wish that developers would wake up to the fact that the way to make the most money in this town is to differentiate yourself, rise above the dross and create quality. I am not talking rubbish. I am a property developer. People still want to buy and rent my properties because they are a cut above the rest. This project was a wasted opportunity to create stunning, spacious flats in one of Thanet's landmark buildings. For really amazing properties people will pay top dollar. It is sad that there is no legislation to prevent ordinary planning regulations being applied so inappropriately.

    The way I see it, a combination of stupid/greedy/misinformed business decisions and the credit crunch have led to this tragedy. Thanet has had enough dole-on-sea and this is just perpetuating it.

  2. Angie - I agree wholeheartedly. However, there are many (too many) developers whose market is still in perpetuating Margate's business of providing housing and services for those on benefits. And don't get me wrong. I passionately believe in people having decent houses to live in and not everyone can afford to buy. But a building of that nature, on a prominant corner site, on a main road, with that many flats in, is not ideal for turning into such a high number of small residential units. The council would have been better to have carried out the threat of compulsory purchase. If the site had been saved from further dereliction, I'm sure brought back to use with a sensitive developer it could have been a building to really be proud of. If the planning officer had not chosen to ignore the advice of the council's own conservation advisor, then the ground floor would have been a viable commerical space as it can only sensibly function as given it being situated right on the pavement of a busy corner.
    But no. There are still people making a fast buck from other people's misfortune. I would guess the aim was always to do a deal with a housing organisation. What surprises me (though why anything does surprise me is odd!) is that the unit were deemed too small and inferior for TDC housing, but ok for an independent association. I look forward to seeing the ground floor windows blocked up with sofas, rubbish on the street in front of the doors.

  3. There is a set of three houses on Clifton Gardens which were built about 3 years ago. They have been rented out to a housing organisation from out of the area who have dumped their 'problem' families there from other places. These houses have been completely trashed and the residents have caused unbelievable problems to the other residents nearby. It has taken nearly 2 years to get rid of the nightmare and now two of the houses are boarded up. I so hope this doesn't happen to Cliff Terrace.

    It is easy to believe that a housing association was lined up all along as the banners advertising the properties always looked rubbish and the prices were too high. Maybe we will never know.

    I was not aware that TDC had gone against their own conservation expert. That stinks. Why don't they realise they don't have to make compromises any more. Most of them have lived here too long and forget Margate isn't the bad old place it was. Margate is on the cusp of something great but they just don't see it sometimes.

  4. Angie - I've got the conservation officer's complaint on here too:

  5. Just read your previous post. Clearly you saw this coming all those months ago. It is criminal.