Friday, 10 April 2015

Get the Arlington shops and public car park open for Dreamland!

I took a walk tonight down the seafront to Arlington. It was a beautiful evening. Another of the classic Margate sunsets that we're treated to so often here. I strolled all along the seafront on to Arlington.

The works are ploughing ahead with the rebuilt Scenic Railway rising up at Dreamland.

But then we have the boarded up empty shops at Arlington and the closed 500 space car park. Tesco pulled out of building the proposed 82,000 sq ft store back in. So what's happened since? From looking at the site tonight, it doesn't seem like anything has happened at all.

Representatives from Freshwater were in Margate a couple of weeks ago where they met residents of Arlington House. No doubt Freshwater also met their landlord, the freeholder, Thanet District Council. I put a call in to the Council's press office today, and haven't yet heard back.

I wonder if Thanet Council told Freshwater to ensure they abide by the terms of their lease and not to spoil the opening of Dreamland in June by continuing to leave the Arlington shops and public car park closed and boarded up.

With Iris Johnston and the Cabinet voting unanimously last week to develop Fort Road Hotel for social housing citing concern over a blight on the seafront, surely Arlington frontage is an even greater blight? And one that is easier to resolve because Thanet Council is the freeholder.

Leaseholders, Metropolitan Property Realizations are a subsidiary of billionaire property landlords Freshwater (in the last few years their wealth greatly increased: Benzion Freshwater was placed 79th on the Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £1.258 billion). 

Freshwater have a full repairing and maintaining lease for the entire Arlington site for which they pay the Council the princely sum of £7,500 per year. Download the lease here.

Their lease stipulates that they have to keep the buildings on the site in good repair.

Their lease stipulates they have to keep the buildings painted.

Their lease stipulates the shops and car park have to be kept open to the public.

Arlington is immediately adjacent to Dreamland with a number of small shop units running along the seafront and All Saints Avenue. 

Given the crowds that are going to come to Dreamland there's an opportunity to have a whole row of little shops open along the pathway to Dreamland. 

Then there's the public car park. It has 500 badly needed spaces including coaches. Why leave this standing empty when car parking is such a problem? Arlington is the perfect place for a car park in Margate.

So, Thanet Council, did you tell Freshwater to get the shops and car park open at Arlington and not to spoil the opening of Dreamland that people have waited so long for?

We want to be proud of Margate seafront again. Look at it. It's beautiful!

All the pictures were taken tonight.

Issues like this are what made me decide to stand for Council in the upcoming election on May 7th. The Council should be accountable for what it does and what it also fails to do. 

Why can't Thanet Council enforce the terms of the Arlington lease?

In five years of the Arlington campaign, I've never had an answer on this question. Let's hope it doesn't need to come down to enforcement and that Freshwater will do the right thing and smarten up Arlington as per the lease. Tesco pulled out. It's unlikely there is another large superstore tenant wanting to take on Arlington, with large stores are closing up and down the country.

And if we're talking about a social housing need in Margate with sea views, then did you know there were over 30 vacant flats owned by Freshwater in Arlington House that had stood empty for years? 

If Thanet Council were to take back the lease they could tenant these or even sell them and make enough money to renovate the entire site or build housing elsewhere.

Food for thought.


  1. Did your anti-Tesco stance prevent the development and refurbing of the area? We coulda had it all by now.

  2. Hi Col,

    No, because Freshwater would have demolished the front seafront section of shop units without having a plan in place for their replacement. There is no hotel partner on board for the scheme they have outline planning on. Now Dreamland CPO is secured and is opening the argument there isn't footfall to sustain the shops doesn't wash.

  3. Further, Col. Tesco have pulled out from big stores, so likely that we would have ended up with a crater and no store.