6 March, 2024

Cabinet to consider funding reallocations for Margate Town Deal

At the Cabinet meeting on Thursday 14 March, Councillors will consider proposed changes to the funding allocations for the Margate Town Deal. This includes a proposal to reallocate £500,000 from the Oval Bandstand and Lawns project to other Coastal Wellbeing interventions. 

The recommendation is for £325,000 to be reallocated to the Walpole Bay Pavillion project and that £175,000 is allocated to the Skatepark project, in Cliftonville.

The Cabinet report also proposes that the £4million government funding previously allocated to Destination Dreamland should be used for the Margate Winter Gardens.

Following its return to the council in August 2022, the Winter Gardens in Margate was closed temporarily. Since then an in-depth survey of the building has taken place and the venue cleared to prepare for the renovation progress. 

In November 2023, the first phase of the search for a new operator for the Winter Gardens launched in partnership with commercial real estate firm Colliers. The venue was marketed to potential new operators and investors, who were invited to conduct site visits and submit their initial Expressions of Interest (EoI). 

Potential partners were asked to show their commitment to restoring the Winter Gardens as a venue for the whole of Thanet. The council has specified that whilst open to the venue being used for a range of leisure ideas, residential use is not an option.

A number of interested parties engaged with the marketing process and one formal EoI was received. The resulting EoI identified a need to work closely with the council, to help deal with a potential funding gap. A financial gap was a recurring theme within feedback on the Winter Gardens. It reflects the level of refurbishment needed and the Winter Gardens’ status as Grade II listed building.

Following the announcement from Dreamland that it wouldn’t be accepting the £4million of Margate Town Deal funding, it is now proposed that this funding is reallocated to the Winter Gardens. This is to support the identification of an operator and help unlock further private sector investment.

The Cabinet report proposed that the agents re-run the marketing campaign subject to approval on reallocating the funding. The aim is that the campaign will run for 3-4 weeks and will remain a two-stage process, the second part of which involves developing more detailed business plans. 

When the marketing and evaluation exercise is complete, a further report setting out detailed proposals will be considered by Cabinet. The aim is that with the possibility of £4million available in funding to support the refurbishment of the building, more potential investors will come forward.

The timescales for the reopening of the Winter Gardens remain dependent on the identification of a suitable operating partner and the scope of their plans.

The Winter Gardens project and the Coastal Wellbeing intervention are part of the Margate Town Deal and long-term regeneration programme that will see £22.2million invested locally.

Further information and updates on the Winter Gardens and Margate Town Deal can be found on the council’s website.

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