On 14 May 2021, members of the Margate Town Deal Board agreed the list of projects that will be put forward under the Town Investment Plan to secure a Town Deal for Margate.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has offered up to £22.2 million in response to the initial Town Investment Plan submitted at the end of 2021 for £29 million.  In response to the reduced funding offer, the Board commissioned independent consultants PRD Ltd to develop a framework to help assess how each project originally put forward would deliver against key criteria including the Government’s Green Book.  

In 2020, the Board developed the Town Investment Plan which included projects to transform Margate’s economic growth prospects and ‘help it thrive 365’. Projects are grouped into the following four categories:

  1. Scaling creative production and skills
    • Establishing a Creative Land Trust
    • Improvements to the Theatre Royal
  2. Coastal wellbeing
    • Improvements to Walpole Bay and Oval Bandstand 
    • Skatepark
  3. Active movement and connections
    • A series of highway and public realm interventions
  4. Heritage assets
    • Repurposing the cinema building at Dreamland
    • Winter Garden future options appraisal

The provisional Towns Fund allocations are set out below:

Intervention 1: Scaling Margate's Creative Production and Skills £8.9m - Intervention 2: Coastal Wellbeing £3.55m - Intervention 3: Active Movement and Connections £5.3m - Intervention 4: Diversifying Heritage Assets £4.3m



Winter Gardens

Project Overview:

The Margate Town Deal Board asked central Government for revenue funding to support the development of a long-term plan for the Margate Winter Gardens. As a result there is now £300,000 of revenue funding allocated for the Winter Gardens project. This funding was received by Thanet District Council as the Accountable Body, in September 2022. It  follows the approval of the Business Case summary document submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in the spring.

The Town Deal funding will enable the development of a vision for the Winter Garden’s future, as part of the evening and night time economy. This will include looking at how it can operate in tandem with the other leisure venues and key heritage assets in Margate; Dreamland and the Theatre Royal, that are featured within the Town Investment Plan.

Activity  will include public and private sector engagement, as well as appointing specialists to help test the market and identify future opportunities. Surveyors will be used to scope out what works are needed and provide full cost estimates for the building. This will enable the council to go out to the marketplace. 

Packaging this information together will support the council’s promotion of the Winter Gardens as a more attractive investment opportunity. It will be presented to potential commercial partners, at the right time, through an open marketing exercise.



Project Outcomes:

Commission of specialist services including, but not limited to:

  • Building condition and site surveys
  • Cost plans
  • Planning and listed building advice
  • Legal advice
  • Evening and night time economy review
  • Engagement with the market
  • Review of leasing arrangements
  • Audience profiling

 The Project Team has now created a timeline of key activities for the Winter Gardens Town Deal project:

December 2022

  • Engage a multidisciplinary team to deliver a review and strategy of the evening and night time economy across Thanet, and the role of the Margate Winter Gardens
  • Launch online community engagement – to support creation of new FAQ –  through Your Voice Thanet – this will be open for four weeks
  • Commission up to date site plans and drawings for the Winter Gardens
  • Draft brief for a legal review and report on the title for the Winter Gardens with relevant legal advice, searches and surveys
  • Commission costed surveys with visits

January 2023

  • Online community engagement closes – officers to review the questions submitted 
  • Sign off site plans and drawings 
  • Complete costed surveys for the marketing pack
  • Draft report from the evening and night time review to include a proposed vision and recommendations for the Winter Gardens, with information to support the engagement of a marketing agent with relevant experience.
  • Further visits to inform costed surveys 
  • Commission Historic Buildings Report

February 2023

  • Finalise legal review and surveys
  • Carry out stakeholder and community engagement on the demand and vision for the Winter Gardens
  • Propose recommendations for the public and private sectors about their roles in developing a sustainable, accessible and inclusive evening and night time economy across Thanet.
  • Commission an Evening and Night Time Economy review for Thanet in order to support significant assets, including the Winter Gardens
  • Commence the procurement of a suitably qualified and experienced marketing agency through an open process
  • Costed surveys finalised

March 2023

  • Finalise the Evening and Night Time Economy Strategy
  • Engage the marketing agency – draft and approve marketing materials
  • Update Cabinet on the  Evening and Night Time Economy and Strategy
  • Develop marketing activity to identify a commercial partner/operator
  • Publish the FAQ on the Margate Town Deal webpages following the initial stakeholder engagement

April 2023

  • Host open days in the Winter Gardens for prospective commercial partners and/or operators
  • Develop the questions and due diligence process to review prospective commercial partners /operator 

May 2023

  • Go out to the market to promote the opportunity at the Winter Gardens

June/July 2023

  • Review proposals for the Winter Gardens, complete due diligence processes
  • Provide recommendations to Cabinet

Whilst the Project Team are working towards the timeline above, the programme of activity may be subject to change.  The timeline information will be updated. 

Opportunities to engage:

We know that the Winter Gardens is close to the hearts of many people in the local community. And, that people want to ask questions about what the future might look like for the venue.  

To kickstart public engagement we encouraged the public to participate via our online platform; Your Voice Thanet 

Between Friday 9 December 2022 and Sunday 8 January 2023 people could submit questions which will help us to get a better picture of the hot topics.

We will now use the most asked questions to guide what we include in the updated FAQ section on the Margate Town Deal project page – updating it with the things our community most wants to know. 

Details of a public meeting regarding the future of the Winter Gardens will be published in due course and project updates will continue to be published on these web pages.

You can also email the Project Team and request to join the Margate Town Deal mailing list to be among those first to hear about latest developments with the Margate Town Deal projects including the Winter Gardens straight to your inbox: margate-town-deal@thanet.gov.uk






Creative Land Trust

In October 2021 the first of the Margate Town Deal Summary Documents were submitted to the government for the Creative Land Trust business case which has been approved by Government. 

What is a Creative Land Trust?

A Creative Land Trust is an independent entity which is set up to secure buildings through outright purchase of freehold properties or long leases to support the sustainability of the creative sector and enable the community to benefit. Its property portfolio may also involve properties gifted or transferred to the Trust by public or private partners. 

Creative Land Trusts support the creative sector to be sustainable, often offering subsidised rents for creative tenants in return for social and economic impact in the local community. 

They take different legal forms but are charitable in nature. The Margate Creative Land Trust was awarded charitable status from the Charity Commission in April 2022. 

You can read more in our newsroom, or the Margate Creative Land Trust website

What is the creative sector? 

The creative sector covers a broad range of industries including; design, music, publishing, architecture, film and video, crafts, visual arts, fashion, TV and radio, advertising, literature, computer games and the performing arts. Many people who work in the creative industries support mainstream industries too, for example, marketers, web designers and advertisers provide support to professional services like accountancy, construction and legal firms or the tourism industry.  

Why has this been chosen for Margate?

Margate has a lively creative scene and a relatively high volume of creative industries in the area. Research has shown that the creative industries account for a large part of the local economy, through direct employment and enterprise and through indirect impact on tourism and visitor demand. However, there is a vulnerability to the sector. Many creative operators are on short-term leases and have little capital to buy long-term leases or freeholds. The creative sector is in effect at the whim of landlords. 

The aim of the Margate Creative Land Trust is to provide security for the sector and help it to grow. By buying buildings, the Margate Creative Land Trust will secure long term, affordable space for creatives and ensure a future for this critical industry. In securing space, the Margate CLT will also expect the creative industries to deliver opportunities for local people to benefit from the creative industries. 

What does Margate’s Creative Land Trust seek to achieve?

The Margate Creative Land Trust has its own aims and objectives depending on the needs of the community and the aspirations of the Trust’s Board. However, one of the objectives in the Town Investment Plan for Margate was:

“To establish Margate as one of the most prominent creative production hubs in the UK, bringing opportunities for employment, diversification, innovation and inclusion.”

An extract from the Town Investment Plan that was submitted to Government and which secured and investment of up to £22.2m for Margate through a Town Deal was:

“The Creative Land Trust will provide safeguarded affordable workspace with high-quality digital connectivity; free enterprise space for young people; further and higher education; centres for digital and theatrical production; civil society activities; and a permanent cultural centre focused on our black and brown community.

“This will scale Margate’s creative production and skills, repurpose long-term vacant buildings and bring new life to the town centre – driving footfall towards Margate’s high street, benefitting surrounding businesses as well as those directly involved in the intervention. The aspiration is to create an ecosystem where any early-stage business can access low cost spaces and enterprise support (including a new equity business investment fund). They will graduate from affordable accelerator spaces provided by studio providers to higher end facilities offered by operators in new developments. 

“By bringing vacant high street premises back into use we will be maximising the value of public investment through supporting high street vibrancy alongside the creative economy. A successful CLT model is able to generate an income to reinvest into business and new projects, therefore continuing the regeneration benefits into the future.

“As well as space for enterprise to grow, we will provide space for education from early outreach to Master’s degrees. This will start with a new collaboration of civil society partners involved in outreach and youth engagement.”

Following the appointment of six independent leaders to the Board of Trustees in June 2022, the Margate Creative Land Trust (MCLT) appointed an Interim Director to help set up the organisation and hire the permanent Director role.

The MCLT trustees are:

  • Paula Hirst (Chair designate)
  • Dan Chilcott
  • Chris Crook
  • Laura Middlehurst
  • Naomi Cooper-Davis
  • Lewis Ahlquist


You can sign up to receive the latest updates on the Margate Creative Land Trust website or alternatively email the Creative Land Trust direct.


Theatre Royal Project

Project Overview:

The Theatre Royal which was first constructed in 1787 is located in the heart of Margate. It is Grade II* listed and retains its Victorian interior dating from 1874. Within the Town Deal there is a £2m allocation for the Theatre Royal project. The Town Investment Plan states this will be used to improve the Theatre Royal and surrounding environment, to create a new hub of theatrical production.

This is part of the wider Scaling Creative Production and Skills intervention within the Town Investment Plan, which collectively includes establishing and capitalising a Creative Land Trust for the town, refurbishing vacant buildings to create affordable workspace, and reversing the disrepair of key heritage assets, such as the theatre.

Alongside these capital investments will be an outreach, engagement and education programme to ensure participation.

The Theatre Royal

Project Outcomes:

This project will:

  • Go beyond capital improvements and reimagine the Theatre Royal to ensure a sustainable future.
  • Safeguard this amazing heritage asset, but also to provide opportunities for the local community to connect with its theatre and become part of the town and district’s growth within creative production.
  • Ensure that more people, from a diverse range of backgrounds have an involvement in or enjoyment of creative production.
  • Improve the local economy, including the night time economy, expand/diversify the visitor offer/experience, and create jobs and training opportunities.
  • Require a new operator and coalition of interested parties to enable the theatre to thrive commercially and for the benefit of the community.
  • Support capital works to repair and restore the theatre to enable a sustainable future for the building and its communities.

Next Steps:

Urgent works will be carried out early 2023 to safeguard the theatre building. The specialist work required for the renovation project on the theatre and any auxiliary spaces, will require millions of pounds. The Margate Town Deal funding will cover a proportion of the works needed, therefore making further private or public sector investment more viable, An Expression of Interest will be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and an operator model clearly defined. 

In March 2023 a dedicated project manager was appointed for the Theatre Royal project to drive the project forward and lead on the application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.



Outreach Programme

Project Overview:

To make sure that the positive benefits of the proposed capital investments are felt by Margate’s creative industries as a whole, as well as the wider community, this project will take a collaborative approach. The programme of activities will include a focus on connecting people from the community with the creative industries. These opportunities will mean that as the sector grows there will be more people in the area who have the required level of creative and production skills. It will support both the Creative Land Trust and Theatre Royal projects, helping to ensure that members of the local community are included.

This project aims to help the broader community to engage with the arts and creative sector. There will be opportunities available for all so that people feel, and are, connected to the creative part of Margate’s identity.

Project Outcomes:

This project aims to:

  • Engage the broader community in the arts and creative sector.
  • Ensure that opportunities are available for all so people feel, and are, connected to the creative part of Margate’s identity.

Next Steps:

The specifics of this project are being defined using stakeholder and community feedback, statistics and other evidence to help inform what this programme of activity will look like.

The programme will need to deliver against the outcomes set out in the Town Investment Plan and will be intrinsically linked with the wider Scaling Margate’s Creative Production and Skills projects.



Access Walpole

Coastal Wellbeing Projects:

See below a plan of how all of the Coastal Wellbeing projects sit alongside each other.

Map showing the Coastal Wellbeing projects including improvements to the tidal pool and surrounds, the steps, and reinstatement of the cliff lift.

Sitting within the Coastal Wellbeing theme is the Access Walpole Project which includes a number of smaller projects to include; improvements to the tidal pool and surrounds, the steps, and reinstatement of the cliff lift.

Walpole Bay Lift project overview:

The aim of this project is to see the Grade II Listed Walpole Bay Lift and clifftop space fully functional again, bringing the sea and all its benefits back to the people who live in or visit this area.

The lift was originally installed by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s to encourage people to enjoy the benefits of living by the coast. This included swimming in the nearby tidal pool or walking along the shoreline – activities that improved people’s health and wellbeing. This project will make that happen again.

Without access to a working lift, some people are limited to exploring the clifftop. As part of the Town Deal’s Access Walpole project, bringing back the lift will bring the sea and cliff top communities together, achieving access for everyone. The plan is that in addition to the lift, the area in the immediate vicinity will be developed to include facilities such as a cafe or kiosk.

Walpole Bay Lift

Project Outcomes:

Bringing the lift back will:

  • Promote improved health and wellbeing for the people living nearby.
  • Restore civic pride in the area, sending a strong message that Margate continues to be a regeneration success story, that we care about the town and its heritage.
  • Connect the clifftop and the seashore, enabling people to enjoy the full spectrum of their surroundings.
  • It will help to open up a route, into Margate and back, along the clifftop for people unable to manage a steep climb.
  • Create a new, link up to Northdown Road.
  • Deliver a valuable community asset.

Next Steps:




Oval Bandstand and Lawns

Coastal Wellbeing Projects:

See below a plan of how all of the Coastal Wellbeing projects sit alongside each other.

Map showing the Coastal Wellbeing projects including improvements to the tidal pool and surrounds, the steps, and reinstatement of the cliff lift.

Oval Bandstand and Lawns Project Overview:

The aim of this project is to redevelop the Oval Bandstand and Lawns, bringing the local community together, through events and other social activities. The plans include the development of a community cafe that offers training and employment opportunities for local people. There will also be public toilet facilities – a key consideration for visitors and people using the popular Viking Coastal Trail.

The project team, GRASS Cliftonville CIC intends to build on the existing roster of events that currently take place by engaging with local community partners and service providers. Building the community event programme and diversifying the services on offer is key as this will help to ensure financial stability of the site.

Project Outcomes:

  • The iconic Oval Bandstand and Lawns will become a focal point for local people and visitors to this stretch of the coast.
  • The project will create genuine opportunities for people from the surrounding area to enhance their skills or education, through community-based activities.
  • By offering a welcoming space where people can meet and socialise, the bandstand and lawns will help the development of stronger bonds, building resilience and cohesion within the community.

Next Steps:

The Coastal Wellbeing business case which includes the lift alongside other projects was approved by government in November 2022. GRASS are now working through the RIBA stages of the project.




Coastal Wellbeing Projects:

See below a plan of how all of the Coastal Wellbeing projects sit alongside each other.

Map showing the Coastal Wellbeing projects including improvements to the tidal pool and surrounds, the steps, and reinstatement of the cliff lift.

Skatepark Project Overview:

Our vision is to create a regionally significant skatepark for Margate, something for the people of Margate to be proud of and give a safe community space to young people. The park has been specifically designed to cater for absolute beginners up to world class pros and everyone in between.

The skatepark will act as a community hub bringing users of the park together as well as becoming a space where their friends and family can spend time too. There will be coaching on offer to help people improve their skills. It will also host events, workshops and other activities.

Skatepark sketch design

Project Outcomes:

This exciting skatepark will:

  • Give local young people something to do which is free.
  • Improve the mental and physical health of young people through socialising and activity. Giving people focus, purpose and a sense of achievement.
  • Improve attainment in education and employment.
  • Give local people a regionally significant community asset for the town to be proud of. Nurture world class skateboarders to further inspire the next generation.
  • Increase tourism – a destination skatepark will attract visitors to the town all year round.
  • Improve an underused space and bring it back to life. Bring more money into the local economy from outside the area.
  • Increase job opportunities for local people.

Next Steps:

  • Following the approval of the Business Case in November 2022, the team are further developing the design of the skatepark, and preparing a Planning application.



New Beach Facilities and Testing New Uses, Participation and Skills Programme

Coastal Wellbeing Projects:

See below a plan of how all of the Coastal Wellbeing projects sit alongside each other.

Map showing the Coastal Wellbeing projects including improvements to the tidal pool and surrounds, the steps, and reinstatement of the cliff lift.

Project Overview:

We want to ensure that the range of capital investments that are being delivered to improve accessibility and opportunities along Walpole Bay benefit the whole community. The testing new uses, participation and skills programme aims to support residents to be more engaged and have more say over health and economic activity, with a focus on testing uses around coastal wellbeing and also to support longer term employment opportunities. It provides an opportunity to experiment and test what can work well which could be replicated and built upon across the town and district in the future.

couple eating fish and chips sitting on the step revetment looking out to margate harbour

Project Outcomes:

  • Building new facilities/amenities to support the activities. This is likely to involve changing facilities, toilets and showers to serve the ever growing numbers of sea swimmers and water users at Walpole Bay.
  • Providing an indoor space to be used to test ideas for improving the health and wellbeing of residents in Cliftonville and Margate.
  • Contributing to the sustainability of Walpole Bay which is likely to create employment and/or business opportunities.

Next Steps:

The specifics of this project are being defined using stakeholder and community feedback, statistics and other evidence to help inform what this programme of activity will look like.

The programme will need to deliver against the outcomes set out in the Town Investment Plan and will be intrinsically linked with the Coastal Wellbeing capital projects.


Following the appointment of a Coastal Wellbeing Participation and Skills Coordinator, we are now meeting with community organisations, groups and service providers to start building the foundations for collaboration to improve Coastal Wellbeing in our Cliftonville and Margate communities. We are looking at ways to make the coastline more accessible to help our residents to enjoy what it has to offer in terms of health and wellbeing benefits. We are also undertaking benchmarking and researching case studies of similar locations to inform our plans for any new facilities, and beach management.

We are now developing a project delivery plan for the Coastal Wellbeing Participation and Skills Programme which aims to test new uses around health and wellbeing at Walpole Bay and surrounding area.


Active Movement and Connections: A series of highway and public realm improvements

Project Outcomes:

As set out in the Town Investment Plan, the aim of this project is to better stitch together Margate’s heritage assets, town centre, coast, and residential areas. This will help residents and visitors access more of the town, more easily. The project will deliver a series of changes to parts of the highway, with attention paid to improving the pedestrian experience and accessibility of different parts of the town. There will be a focus on better connections and pedestrian routes.

In addition to any changes to the highway, a series of public realm improvements will be made. They include new toilet facilities in Margate and greening projects, to coincide with new and improved wayfinding and signage.

Project Outcomes:

  • Reduce vehicle dominance on key routes and crossings.
  • Provide new and improved connections for pedestrians to explore different areas of the town.
  • Help people to swap car journeys for active transport and walk or cycle more often, especially around Northdown Road and the town centre.
  • Increase visitor numbers and spend beyond the current key tourist sites, as improved wayfinding encourages discovery.
  • Improve perceptions of public realm safety and connectivity as well as air quality.
  • Reduce health inequalities.

Destination Dreamland

Project Overview:

Originally, the Dreamland cinema building opened in 1935 as an entertainment space. The sea-facing exterior comprises an 80 ft. Expressionist-influenced brick tower with a projecting fin bearing neon strips that spell out the word Dreamland, in capital letters.

This project will create a year-round, state of the art entertainment and conferencing venue, programmed with events and content which will compliment and expand on visitation to the Dreamland Amusement Park.

Phase one of the project will start the refurbishment of the sea-facing Sunshine Café, turning it into a workable consumer events and hospitality space.

The ground floor will provide a temporary home for The National Cultural Centre, which People Dem Collective is currently raising funds for. The Centre will celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the town, the diversity of the thousands of visitors who come for the beach experience and the thriving arts scene.

Dreamland building

Project Outcomes:

The project will:

  • Contribute to the regeneration of Margate’s seafront.
  • Improve how the seafront looks.
  • Attract domestic, international and business tourism all year-round, boosting the local economy and creating much needed ‘out of season’ footfall and jobs.
  • Working alongside People Dem Collective (PDC), the project team will endeavour to introduce innovative new programmes in Art & Culture, Education, Heritage, Diversity and Health.
  • The National Cultural Centre will provide a visitor experience of Black British History in Margate, thus increasing tourism to Margate particularly from Black and Brown visitors.
  • Promote community group engagement from Black and Brown and lower socioeconomic communities, with heritage venues and experiences.

Next Steps:

Management company to conduct feasibility studies. The aim will be to determine the best way to achieve a sustainable business opportunity within a Grade II* listed building.

The specialist work required for the renovation project will require millions of pounds. SHL, having already invested £50 million into Dreamland and Margate, is committed to continuing to invest into the next phase of its development.

The Margate Town Deal funding will go someway to bridging the heritage deficit and therefore making private investment more viable.



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