Using the scale drawings from the Freshwater/Tesco planning application for work to the Arlington site in Margate, members of the local Conservation Area Advisory Group, Liam Nabb and architect Sam Causer have created a more detailed elevation of the drawing proposal seen from the beach. We can see how it will appear if the superstore portion of the development were completed without the seafront hotel and shops (these are outline planning only).
This is the most likely scenario, as the seafront part of the development has so far only been submitted for Outline Planning Permission, and is not tied in to development of the rest of the site. There are no contracts or developers in place for a hotel, shops or any of the other seafront buildings, so if a developer were to come forward they would have to apply for a new planning permission meaning the site could remain empty for years to come. The developer is asking for permission to demolish the seafront side of Arlington without having a contract in place for what will replace it. Our concern is that without the seafront buildings the most dominant building on Margate’s seafront will be the five-storey face of a flat-roofed superstore shed, FIVE TIMES the size of Turner Contemporary, rising up out of a private superstore car park.
This is in breach of Thanet Council’s own Arlington Planning brief which was adoped at Full Council in 2008:
“It will [...] be a requirement that comprehensive proposals are permitted for all of [...] the site and a contract in place for comprehensive redevelopment of the total site.”
This means that planning permission for a superstore should only be granted when all contracts are in place and full plans for the whole site are proposed. We do not want to see a massive five storey shed and private car park right next to the beach, with queues of traffic blocking the seafront.
This proposal goes against so many of the council’s other aims, including:
1) “[…] to provide a positive landmark development including a mix of uses that will complement adjacent sites and help regenerate Margate seafront and town centre.”
2) “A development that provides stronger pedestrian and cycle links and seeks to improve public transport links between Margate Station and Margate High Street, in order to improve permeability within central Margate.”
3) “The introduction of active frontages to the Marine Terrace and All Saints Avenue frontages to create interest, encourage pedestrian movement and make a place where people feel safe and secure.”
4) “[…] a high quality townscape relationship between the Arlington site and Dreamland and improving the relationship of the development to Marine Terrace, to improve its visual impact, accessibility and legibility in a manner that embraces the principles of Kent Design.”
5) “A development that embraces the principals of sustainability.”
We applaud the council for establishing these objectives back in 2008, but condemn them for failing to honour them now.
Furthermore, documents have recently come to light that where the developer Freshwater communicated to Thanet District Council on May 28th, just before the application went before Planning Committee in June, that there is currently no interest in the site from hotel operators, that they have a low perception of the area and that they, Freshwater, would have preferred a 5 year time period to get a hotel contractor in place. That’s 5 years with no completed seafront hotel in place and a gaping hole with views to the back of a supermarket from Margate’s Main Sands. Remember that when you next see a press article with a photo of a ‘revamped’ seafront with a hotel on it:
Philip Robin from King Sturge wrote to TDC Planning Officers, Cherry Aplin and Simon Thomas stating:
“3. We share your desire to see that the site planning permission is fully implemented at the earliest opportunity. There is no interest in the phase 2 development at present and we do not anticipate the situation will change until the supermarket is trading and the refurbishment of Arlington House has occurred, which will hopefully change potential hotel operator’s perception of the area. ..”