Wednesday 28 May 2008

Thanatos - Isle of the dead

Nice little feature on BBC Kent today regarding the origins of the Isle. There is a reference to a fact I'd not realised that Thanet has more Bronze Age burial grounds than anywhere in Britain.

In March there was the discovery of a Bronze Age skeleton at Monkton where the new salad growing glasshouses will go.

Sunday 25 May 2008

Harbour Arm opening weekend

Thank goodness the weather was better on Friday and Saturday than today. The opening of the Harbour Arm works has gone off with a real success. Lovely to see it all come together. They really pulled it off at the eleventh hour.

IOTA Gallery put on a great exhibition of works with the promise of more quality contemporary art to come. Sorry it's gone from Ramsgate, folks, but it's just the kind of organisation needed by Margate if it's to live up to the arts being at the centre of regeneration.

The renovations of the fishermen's sheds look to be great quality. The idea of swapping out the top hatch loading doors for glass panels has worked brilliantly.

Spending time at the end of the Arm it's clear what a great view of Margate this is and how the cafe bar at the end will be one of the best spots in town. Immediately at the water's edge without traffic in between you, your thoughts and the view of Margate.

On Saturday there were foodstalls, which I hope will continue on a regular basis (although no info on that yet). There is a lack of small food shops in central Margate and a weekly food market could be a real draw for visitors and a positive addition to the town.

Last night's celebrations were topped off with a firework display that was simply stunning. So yes, I'm a bit gushing about the new kid in town, but it's well deserved. It came together from conception to realisation in record time. I look forward to many happy hours spent looking back to Margate and seeing it all come together.

Friday 23 May 2008

Sunday School wins Town Pride award

The Emmanuel Church Sunday School on Addington Square is pictured in last week's Adscene. The article states that it is referred to as "an accomplished conversion" and further "This property could easily have been pulled down and a block of flats put in its place".

There seems to be an assumption that if a building is merely converted into flats that it is somehow worthy of an award and that permission would have been granted for it to be demolished.

Why would a building like this have been earmarked for demolition?

It resides in a designated Conservation Area and the criteria for permission to demolish are pretty clear. Demolition would only be permitted if what replaces it would add or enhance the Conservation Area. The loss of a historical building of this nature would have been a pretty high cost when the area is already full to overflowing with converted flats.

Here's how the building looked before renovation:

The not substantial building now houses three flats with the new upper floors cutting across the windows. Personally, I'm unsure why this is referred to as an accomplished conversion.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Elephants ahoy!

Marvelous footage posted over at Eastcliff Dicky's site from Margate's own Mr Bling. Relating to my earlier post, Mr Bling has unearthed footage of mechanical elephants in action.

Sorry I've not been posting much the last few weeks. Have been up to my ears in the proverbial. Hoping that service will resume with more fervour in the summer.

One thing I've been mulling over is to start a Margate or Thanet events calendar in Google Calendar. If people think this is a good idea, perhaps send me details of your event and I can add it. I know I've missed out on a few events of late through not hearing about them in time.

Sunday 11 May 2008

Dreamcoaster Event

The Save Dreamland Campaign have announced details of an event in team with Limbo Arts for a fund raising event, celebrating Dreamland's heritage. The event will take place at Substation in Bilton Square. People are invited to bring in bits of wood to help construct an artistic version of the scenic. The build week is 23-30 May and the exhibition from 31 May - 7th June. Get foraging in those sheds! Your own shed, of course!

Thursday 8 May 2008

KCC to sue Turner 1 architects

Heads up from Ramsgate's finest that KCC is to take legal action over original Turner Contemporary scheme.

It seems KCC is hell bent on regaining some of the £6m it spent on the ill fated scheme from the architects. I wonder what chance they have?

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Giant horse proposed for Ebbsfleet

Some lighter news: Giant horse proposed for Ebbsfleet.

Another listed building in Margate goes up in flames

Grade II listed 49-50 Hawley Square went up in flames last night. That's the third fire in almost as many weeks. The building has sadly been gutted on the inside. However, a fire officer was overheard by a local resident to say to council officials that the facade is structurally sound. This has yet to be confirmed. But hopefully this means that all is not lost and the building can be saved and rebuilt from the inside.

I've yet to research the history of this particular building. It was apparantly bought and awaiting development. Hence another development site up in smoke in Thanet.

More info from BBC News

Details of the building listing can be found at English Heritage's site: Images of England. You have to sign up for free registration to access the listing details of properties. The listing for 49-50 states:

IoE Number: 356571
Location: 49 AND 50 HAWLEY SQUARE (west side)
Photographer: Mrs Claire Hughes
Date Photographed: 13 May 2003
Date listed: 22 February 1973
Date of last amendment: 22 February 1973
Grade II

1380HAWLEY SQUARE(West Side)Nos 49 and 50TR 3570 NW 1/5010.4.51.

1. 1380 HAWLEY SQUARE (West Side) Nos 49 and 50 TR 3570 NW 1/50 10.4.51. II GV 2. Late C18. Originally one house and similar to Nos 47 and 48. 4 storeys and basement red brick ground floor stuccoed. Modillion cornice below the parapet. 3 windows in all. 2 bay windows on the ground floor. Fine doorcase with projecting cornice, Ionic ½ columns, a segmental fanlight with Gothick glazing and 8 panel moulded double doors. Nos 39 to 51 (consec) form a group.

Monday 5 May 2008

Cliff Terrace - TDC blowing their own trumpet

The latest edition of Margate Newsletter from Margate Renewal hails the work going on at Cliff Terrace to be an "Eyesore Finally to be Transformed".
"Work is finally underway to transform a beautiful group of empty buildings in Cliftonville, after intervention from Thanet District Council."
Quite. Yes, the buildings are now going to be transformed to be 100% residential flats, which has meant the loss of the original shops and shopfronts on the groundfloor level. This was contrary to the advice of a conservation officer at TDC. So Cliftonville will add a few more flats to it's already bulging roster.

Let's also remind TDC that they did not apply for 14 and 15 Cliff Terrace (the end ornate building) to be listed or protected. That was down to a local resident. TDC threatened a Compulsory Purchase Order and then found a developer to turn the whole site into residential. In so doing there has been the loss of original shops and shopfronts and the creation of flats that sit directly at street level on a busy corner. Now, aren't these exactly the type of housing units that are difficult to shift in this area?

There was no need for the building to have fallen into such a state of disrepair had TDC acted earlier. The creation of more flats, as residents of Cliftonville will know very well, does not always bring a better environment.

So, why did TDC need to push through the plan for 14 and 15 Cliff Terrace to be converted to residential? The listed building status gave them enough clout to limit residential flats to the upper floors.

Here's the officer's formal complaint:
Brian White – Head of Development Services
Thanet District Council
Cecil Street

21st December 2007

Dear Mr. White,

L/TH/07/1527 – 14-15 Cliff Terrace, Margate

The above building was listed on 15th October 2007. This necessitated the submission of a listed building consent following the previous granting of planning consent for the conversion of the building in to flats.

The building is a purpose built shop with a tearoom and letting rooms over. The list description notes the remains of the historic shopfront.

In common with the planning application, the listed building consent application proposed alterations to the ground floor to facilitate a domestic conversion. Whilst such an alteration might be acceptable in a building that was not listed, it departed from the original form of the building in a manner that would be detrimental to its historic character. Any alteration to this building should serve to re-enforce that character – as stated in policy HE1 of the Thanet Local plan.

I gave my advice on this application to the case officer by e-mail on 7th December. Upon discussion, the case officer told me that she did not intend to follow this advice. When questioned as to why this might be the case, she responded that she was the planning officer.

I am employed by both this Authority and English Heritage to advise on matters concerning the historic built environment, especially listed buildings. I am a chartered Architect and a full member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

In a situation such as this, one affecting the character of a listed building, my advice should be the paramount consideration in the determination of the application. There is no point in employing me if my opinion, on matters that I am uniquely qualified to opine, is ignored.

On the face of it, it would appear that the decision to grant this consent was the unilateral decision of the planning officer. This being the case I wish to bring a formal complaint against the case officer for professional misconduct.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Dermott IHBC RIBA