Monday, 14 June 2010

Public Realm Seafront Consultation

During the last week, the architectural firm, Jacobs, have been in town canvassing opinions on what should become of the public realm environment along the seafront from the railway station through to the Turner Contemporary site.

Now, this is not the first time that Jacobs have worked on schemes throughout Margate and Cliftonville. Previous exercises, funded by KCC, covered Hawley Square, Cecil Square, Cliftonville. What seems to be happening now, is that in the final rush to the Turner opening on spring 2011, that the seafront needs to be tarted up quick.

But is this the right thing to do to limit discussion to the seafront?

And what are the implications for Margate and Cliftonville if the emphasis is only on connecting the two bookends between the station and the Turner Contemporary?

I attended a couple of days of consultations held at the Media Centre where we were asked to discuss the themes of the following words: beautiful, sustainable, affordable and connected. No explanation was given on where these four words had come from. We were asked to limit our discussions to the area outlined on the maps, that being from the station through to Turner.

But there was a sense of deja vu. Afterall, this and many schemes have been consulted and consulted again. Can't someone just do what was suggested before? And what about many of the examples put forward by the groups being outside of the public realm eg. lack of enforcement of planning laws in terms of signage and of lack of respect for the defined Conservation Area and listed buildings. One only has to look at the gaping hole left by another burned to the ground building along the seafront that no one in authority has made anyone rebuild.

And what about CABE's warnings and their reports of not putting all the emphasis on large flagship projects and their positive hopes for Margate and Cliftonville's potentially fine residential communities that deserve better routes and connectivity.

Many people voiced concerns that are perhaps out of the remit of the consultation, but nonetheless are important matters to consider. That of the possible impact on the town and the beach of Tesco setting up a supermarket.

What about the very real risk of daytrippers picking up a carrier bag of shopping and heading for the beach, consuming said bag of goodies and then having no need to further explore the town's shops and cafes?

Then potentially leaving all their rubbish behind them on the beach and heading back home, having not had the need to go any further.

What about the range that a large multi-national like Tesco sell?
How will this affect the last few remaining shops we have in town? The camera shop, the children's clothes shops?

Weren't Tesco supposed to be the only hope for the renovation of Arlington House? Tales were told by residents that Tesco will no longer be forking out as initially thought on the Arlington House and the shops on the street level.

Is a Tesco at the seafront really the best we can do in terms of regeneration for the town? One presumes it has been thought out the impact a major supermarket like Tesco will have on independent shops has been thought out. One would imagine we have learned the lessons from Westwood Cross.

And what impact will their deliveries have and where will all the extra traffic go?

The biggest obstacle to Margate achieving it's potential is probably the thundering A Road that runs along the seafront. For people to enjoy Margate's fine sands and views, take a stroll, enjoy a bite to eat, the main road must go. But will it? I doubt that this project is looking to achieve something so radical and will probably concentrate on the appearance of what is already there.
To find out more about the consultation and to give your opinion, contact those nice people at Jacobs

So, does anyone remember the previous consultations?


  1. If you do away with the main road into Margate pray tell how will access be gained to the town????? I await your reply with great interest

  2. We're thinking of a possible future. How do you think other cities manage that don't allow traffic on a seafront or into a historical centre? Ever walked round a european city that now don't allow cars in? Take a look at Florence. It used to be gridlocked. No more. Traffic would be routed round. Access for taxis, buses and disabled could be allowed and delivery times for shops. But ordinary traffic could be routed round.

  3. Diverting traffic away from the seafront might have worked by building a road along the back of Dreamland, but now that new houses have been built I don't see how it can be done without knocking buildings down. Otherwise traffic would have to be diverted to near Victoria traffic lights, & that is already very busy. I agree that otherwise it would be a good idea (& yes, why wasn't the owner of the burnt down building on the seafront forced to rebuild?).

  4. I am glad that Mr Checksfield understood what I meant regarding where to put an alternative access road into Margate.
    Unfortunately for many years now Thanet and Margate in particular has been "dis-served" by a succession of councils. They jump on each bandwagon as it passes in the hope of a "magic solution". Some of these schemes have been more to the benefit of individuals than the community at large. Time after time the "magic scheme" falls by the wayside. Nothing happens and Margate declines futher. As for buildings on the seafront which burn down not to rebuilt - that seems to be a bit of a bad habit across the Isle of Thanet over the years.
    It is a great shame that as a result of inept or selfserving Councils a few businessmen have been able to make themselves a very nice living with no regard to the communities in which they operate - though I am sure they would disagree.

  5. Is it true MA that Tesco's dont have to "DO UP"Arlington?I thought it was a condition of them going there,the car park would be done up,Arlington House was to have tinted windows and painted(so as not to look like a slum in the sky, but a much better building)PLEASE don't say they don't have too now.I despair,WHY?..