Sunday 31 May 2009

Homes Under The Hammer - Albert Terrace

While I was looking around for the edition of Homes Under the Hammer from a few years ago in which 49-50 Hawley Square, The ex-Conservative Club featured, I stumbled upon an edition on iplayer with a double fronted building on 6-7 Albert Terrace. "Local lads" Adrian and Dave buying a Grade II Listed Georgian seafront property, who announce later they were upset to not to be able to put their own UPVC windows in. Damian Cooke of Cooke and Co. sites the property as ideal for converting into flats. The before and after shots show panelling and historic coving disappearing and the programme stated more than once, that the building's use as a guest house is over. What??? Why would a prominent seafront location not be viable as a guest house? And why would Margate need any more bland, low quality flats that are essentially historic buildings with their hearts ripped out.

The video is available at the moment here:

Planning files are here:;jsessionid=6DB675CB67C3359AF1C3B34C36AB3FB5.wam2?action=show&appType=planning%20folder&appNumber=F/TH/07/1433

Plans for the Waverly Pub

A planning application (F/TH/09/0316) has been submitted to convert the ground floor and above of The Waverly pub into, wait for it, wait for it... flats. Yet another application to put residential units into a central high street property with the bedroom and living room facing right onto the street, one of the main streets in town.

It seems incredibly short sighted and inappropriate to lose a business unit on the main shopping thoroughfare to create living space that will mean people keep the windows closed and blocked up with blinds or curtains. And how it will work with the pub continuing down below in the basement through to Marine Terrace is anyone's guess.

Plans are available to download on the UK Planning website.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Private View: Michelle Morris

On Friday 5th of June there is a the opening of the artist Michelle Morris' exhibition at her studio on the Harbour Arm.

Enforcement Agreement on The Arcadian

As picked up by the Gazette and the new excellent an agreement has been arrived at between TDC and the owners of the prominent seafront eyesore of shame, The Arcadian. It's been an eyesore for many years and time will tell if this time, the building really will be brought back to former glory.

If The Arcadian and next door Fort Hotel were renovated and brought back into use, then by all accounts this would fit with requirement for centrally located, high quality hotel accommodation in the vicinity of the Turner Contemporary.

Which brings me to the article also in the Gazette on Friday about KCC plans to design their own hotel next door to the Turner Contemporary site. It seems ludicrous for a council to be designing its own landmark building next door to a key architect designed gallery. Why not encourage the development and revival of Margate and Cliftonville's fine boarding houses back to their former glory and returning them to the use that suits them best? Surely this would bring the most benefit to the streets and neighbourhoods in town rather than have them continue as HMOs and now the ever popular short sighted property developer staple of miniscule low quality flats that no one wants to live in. Isn't this what the Turner Contemporary is supposed to encourage? The revival and regeneration of the town?

And if a seafront hotel must be built (right in front of The Arcadian, The Fort Hotel and in view of The Nayland Rock) why would KCC design it themselves? What design credentials do they have for building a high quality building as opposed to a good architect?

My view is that if we need 100+ quality rooms throughout town and given the trend for people to want to stay in smaller, independent quality places, then Margate would have sufficient rooms available and these will be ready for the opening of the Turner. It would have the added bonus of regenerating streets and streets in the town and providing jobs and demand for services to support a revived tourist economy.

The article goes on to point out that there are funds available from the EU. This would give encouragement to owners of potential eyesores in town to bring them back into a viable use.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

49-50 Hawley Square - Still waiting for repairs

Over a year on from the disastrous fire and we're still waiting for something to happen to begin to repair 49-50 Hawley Square.

Why has a temporary tin roof not been erected as a minimum to stop water getting in?

Surely the owner of such a prominent listed building has a responsibility not to just leave it to rot and the authorities have the power to deal with the owner?

Monday 25 May 2009

Urban Panel report

Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazette carried an interesting article on the English Heritage Urban Panel visit to Margate and subsequent report.

The Gazette reports that Chris Smith, the panel co-ordinator stated:
"The Georgian town built on the hill fields beyond the High Street puts Margate at the forefront of English seaside development and had Cecil Square and The Assembly Rooms survived intact, the image of the town today might well be different today.

The building that houses Thanet Council is so out of scale and over bearing as to drive the image of the rest of Cecil Square from the mind. The square has suffered badly from the non-negotiable demands of the highway engineer. Members felt that the re-creation of Cecil Square as a pedestrian dominated space of quality would offer a far better return for residents and visitors alike."

I couldn't agree more. Last week I went on a historic guided tour of Margate with the Margate Civic Society. It was really enjoyable and I'd recommend it. It was so interesting to get a new view of places and details that I pass in everyday life. One of the stops was on Cecil Square. Old photographs were passed around that showed a Thornton Bobby department store with wonderful ronate ironwork to the facade next door to the Natwest Building and that corner was an intact terrace of fine houses down to street level. There was no delivery arch into the corner, which I believe was put in later for M&S. It's so destructive the modifications that are made and then the businesses move on. Looking at the old pictures and then bothering to look up above the traffic it's clear the fabric of the beautiful square is still there. But that it is obliterated by the excessive widening of the road and the Council Offices and Court that tower over in extreme ugliness.

I remember someone telling me that the TDC building was built with no expense spared. Something about handmade bricks shipped in specially? I will have to do some research on this. If anyone has any pictures or knowledge of what was there before the ins and outs of the building of the current Council offices I'd be glad interested.

It isn't hard to imagine Cecil Square back to its former glory. If it was in any other european city it would be one of the main public squares of the town, fronted with shops, bars and cafes. Perhaps a weekly market. Instead it's a car park, duel carriageway and bustop with poor street furniture and inappropriate landscaping. It could be a welcoming place instead of a stressful environment.

It seems Margate officals were pleased with the panel's report in respect of Dreamland and the Turner Contemporary and Old Town. I need to research what plans are afoot for Cecil Square and also to track down the report. The Council is feeding back on the report on June 16th.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

TDC press release on the Northdown Road fire

Work is continuing to make safe a set of terraced buildings, badly damaged by fire in Cliftonville.

The fire broke out late on Saturday night at the properties in Northdown Road and saw 80 firefighters tackling it throughout Sunday and into Monday. Six people were re-housed in emergency accommodation by Thanet District Council, but all have now made their own arrangements. There have been no reports of anyone being hurt.

Building Control officers from the council have been on the scene throughout today (Monday 18 May), assessing the damage to the building. Work is being undertaken this afternoon to put additional scaffolding in place around the building to make it safe.

It is hoped that Northdown Road, which is currently closed between Prices Avenue and Crawford Gardens will be open by tomorrow (Tuesday 19 May) afternoon, with shops and businesses that have been affected by the fire in that area able to re-open at that time. Work is continuing to re-connect gas and electricity supplies to affected properties and it is expected that the work will be completed by midday tomorrow.

Deputy Chief Executive, John Bunnett, said: "This has had an excellent response from everyone involved, both inside the council and from our partners at Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service. Our officers have once again excelled themselves and have been working around the clock to try and return the area to normal as quickly as possible. That's our priority at the moment. We want to see businesses in the area that have been affected able to trade again as soon as the building is made safe and we're doing everything we can to ensure that happens."

Chief Superintendent John Molloy said: "I would like to thank the residents, shop owners and staff and visitors in Cliftonville for their understanding and support over the past few days. It is quite evident just what an extensive fire this was and our first priority has been to ensure everyone's safety, followed by working to get the community's life back to business as usual. The structure is too dangerous at the moment to start our investigations on site. However, we would welcome anyone with any information to contact Margate police station on 01843 231055 or to talk to one of our Cliftonville neighbourhood officers as soon as possible."

The cause of the fire is not yet known and is under investigation.


Cheryl Pendry
Press and Media Manager
Thanet District Council

Tel: 01843 577 034
Fax: 01843 295 343

Sunday 17 May 2009

Time Tunnel fire photos

I've been back up there today and it seems the fire is still burning since midnight last night. The fire seems to have spread to neighbouring properties and businesses. The building may have had linked basements. I'm so hoping the other businesses are not affected, but even with this level of disruption it has got to have an impact. The police officer on the cordon that I spoke to said it was being treated as a crime scene. I've not got confirmation on that from anywhere else. Margate really is finding it hard to shake off this association with fires. Which is a huge shame.

Fire on Northdown Road

There was a big fire on Northdown Road tonight. In an arcade three doors down from Lovelys and two doors from the scooter shop. I'll post pictures tomorrow. It took a long time for the fire crew to get through the security shutters. When we left the scene the fire had spread to next door. I hope that it has been brought under control.

These arcades, eh. Very fire prone.

Sunday 3 May 2009

New cafes open in town

The new Be Beached cafe on the Harbour Arm has opened this weekend. Really great menu, that balances local quality produce and price. There is a tasty brunch menu which includes most dishes for under a fiver. Poached duck eggs and granary fingers, kedgeree, smoothies. There are many veggie options with a few dishes for meat eating friends. I had a fine pot of coffee and a fairy cake yesterday and a nice ginger beer today while I soaked up the sun and the view. I wish Be Beached every success! You can also find them on the web!

There is also the London Pie and Mash shop in the old town. I'm no afficionado for traditional pie and mash so I'm afraid I went for gravy like a true northerner! I'm told I have to go back for the liquor and chilli vinegar. It was great to hear people reminiscing in the place about their east end London pie experiences. I can see this place being a real winner.