Agenda item



Councillor Gregory asked Councillor Pugh the following question:


"Many of Thanet's heritage of theatre venues that have, in the past, attracted large audiences & are either closed, now derelict due to lack of routine maintenance or are imminent to shut, possibly lost to the Thanet  & its visiting community forever. 

What plans does TDC have for Westcliff concert hall in Ramsgate, the Granville Theatre Ramsgate, the Theatre Royal Margate &  the Winter Gardens Margate for them to be restored to their former glory?”


Councillor Pugh responded with the following points:

  • The Granville Theatre on Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, was built in the 1940s, originally as a theatre, with a cinema screen added later.  The Theatre was owned by the Council, but had been managed by leaseholders since 1998.  The building was leased to Granville Theatre Ltd in 2007, but that arrangement came to an end in November 2020, when the lease was surrendered.  The building has been closed since the start of the national COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
  • The building was last surveyed in 2017 and this highlighted an extensive list of necessary maintenance, with a total cost estimated at £152,000.  In addition to this, the roof was in a particularly poor condition and repairs were estimated to cost around £250,000. 
  • In July 2021, members of Thanet District Council’s Cabinet agreed to transfer the Granville Theatre into the hands of a community organisation, if a viable bid was put forward.  In October 2021, community groups were invited to express their interest in bidding for the freehold of the building, and the right to continue to operate it.  Commercial property agents would shortly be offering the building on the open market,  inviting proposals that reflected the status, condition and future use of the property.  Eligible community groups, including the Kent Film Foundation, would have the opportunity to bid alongside commercial organisations. 
  • The Granville Theatre held fond memories for many local people and was a distinctive local landmark.  It was encouraging to see the huge amount of positive local support for its redevelopment. The Council was committed to securing a positive future for the building, which would benefit the local community for generations to come. 


  • Westcliff Hall in Ramsgate was in private ownership and therefore not a matter the Council could comment on beyond sharing a view that we very much want to see it developed positively.


  • The Theatre Royal formed part of the Margate Town Deal.  Within the Town Deal Scaling Creative Production and Skills intervention, there was a £2m allocation for the Theatre Royal project.  The Town Investment Plan stated that this would be used to improve the Theatre Royal and surrounding environment, to create a new hub of theatrical production.  This project would:

·  Go beyond capital improvements and reimagine the Theatre Royal to ensure a sustainable future.

·  Safeguard this heritage asset, and provide opportunities for the local community to become part of the town and district’s growth within creative production.

·  Ensure that more people, from a diverse range of backgrounds had an involvement in or enjoyment of creative production.

·  Improve the local economy, including the night time economy, diversify the visitor 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.


·  The Margate Town Deal Board has asked the Government for revenue funding to support the Margate Winter Gardens in the development of a long-term plan.  As a result, there was now £300,000 of revenue funding allocated for the Winter Gardens project.

·  This funding would enable a piece of work which would provide a clear vision and detailed project delivery plan for the Winter Gardens’ future, including how it could operate in tandem with the other leisure venues and key heritage assets in Margate, such as Dreamland and the Theatre Royal.


Councillor Gregory followed up her question by asking why had regular routine maintenance not taken place on these buildings?


Councillor Pugh responded that the Council wished to see these assets returned back to their former glory, however the Council’s budget was tight.  It should not always be the job of the Council to renovate premises if there was a community group that could bring the property back to its former glory, or even better.