Is demolition taking place at Arlington?

In today’s Thanet Gazette, Thanet Council state there’s no demolition underway at Arlington. The landlords, Freshwater state demolition is taking place. This is confusing!  We need answers!

Thanet Council:

“The authority this week said it was aware of the “soft-strip asbestos removal” at the former shopping arcade, but no permissions were needed for it to be carried out.”

Margate Central Ward Councillor, Iris Johnston said:

“A resident from Arlington House contacted me regarding demolition works on Saturday so I immediately contacted officers and planning at Thanet council. I was informed that asbestos was being removed and there are no more plans for further works at the present moment.”

Freshwater, the Landlords said:

“The land owner is seeking occupiers to enable a viable regeneration of the site but is not yet in a position to promote new plans for redevelopment.

“In the meantime, some small scale demolition of a number of the shop units away from the sea front is taking place which will help to bring forward future regeneration.”

We presume Freshwater’s spokesperson intended to say they as landlords were seeking occupiers, not the land owner. The land is owned by Thanet District Council, that’s the public.

We reiterate, that Arlington shops should be opened and made available to rent and the 500 public coach and car park open to the public as per the terms of Freshwater’s lease with Thanet District Council.  [This is a separate deck than the Arlington House residents parking deck].

We’re urgently seeking urgent clarification from Thanet District Council: If demolition takes place, as described by Freshwater in this article, is this deemed a commencement of works on the approved planning application for the 82,000 sq ft Tesco superstore and outline planning for a hotel?

Why does this matter?

Examples of where a commencement of works has gone ahead in Thanet and then stalled through a lack of developer are Pleasurama on Ramsgate’s seafront and Hoser’s Corner in Cliftonville.

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Pleasurama image: Thanet Gazette

 

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Hoser’s Corner, Cliftonville: Google Images

Both blighting communities for years. Arlington can be opened and regenerated and playing a positive role for Margate seafront.

Please continue to write to Councillor Chris Wells, Leader of Thanet Council.
And your ward Councillors

 

Demolition crew move on to Arlington site

 

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Demolition workers from Morden based company Sloan Demolition have moved onto Arlington and have started work on stripping out shops in preparation for demolition.

Leaseholder, Freshwater’s 2010 planning permission for an 82,000 sq ft Tesco superstore and outline planning for a hotel facing the main sands expires on June 6th. If works are deemed to have been started (and that’s a formal process) then the permission stands in perpetuity. I.e. works could be started, such as demolition, and then stop unfinished for years. Tesco pulled out of the deal in October 2014. Since then, no known supermarket or hotel partner has emerged as interested in building the approved superstore or hotel.

Freshwater lease Arlington (the residential tower with over 100 apartments, the 500 space car park and the commercial areas on a full repairing lease agreement from Thanet Council at the cost of just £7,500 per year (seven thousand five hundred pounds).

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Demolition requires approval from freeholders Thanet District Council. To date, there are no published permissions from Thanet Council allowing demolition work to commence. The timing of these works appear to be a ploy to constitute a start on site under The Town & Country Planning Act 1990.

Before demolition may commence, leaseholders, Freshwater are required to obtain two further permissions from freeholders Thanet District Council:

  1. Method Statement approval
    This is required by Conditions 20 and 26 of the Planning Approval relating to demolition. Basically, they should set out how the demolition process will be carried out. E.g. how they will remove waste.
  2. Landlord’s Consent
    The Leaseholder is not permitted to commence demolition without first  acquiring Landlord’s (Thanet District Council) Consent to structural alterations to buildings in accordance with clause 3.(xii) of the Head Lease.

What can you do?

Write to Thanet Council (customer.services@thanet.gov.uk)  and, if you’re a resident of Thanet, your Ward Councillors  to demand they do not grant Freshwater these permissions; because there is no evidence of a supermarket or hotel partner to implement the approved scheme. Instead demand the shops and car park be open to the public, maintained and lit as per the terms of the lease.

Freshwater are an immensely rich company with directors now officially billionaires.

Thanet Council, as the freeholder should be enforcing the Arlington lease on behalf of the people of Thanet, thus ensuring the best value and the best outcome for this prime seafront location on Margate sands. It can once again contain small businesses and provide valuable and badly needed parking.

Since the planning consent was applied for in 2010, Margate has moved on. Turner Contemporary is open. Dreamland is now open and needs car parking. The Arlington car park can take 500 vehicles and is built to take coaches. There are many people who would rent a shop at Arlington if the shops were reopened.

Margate seafront now has footfall – The council must not give permission for demolition.

Demolition would result in a boarded-up  wasteland at the entrance to Margate with no plan.

The car park is a condition of the lease and essential to the traffic strategy. Parking at the entrance to the town avoids the need for visitors to Turner, the beach, Dreamland and the Old Town driving along Marine terrace, preventing the aspirations for a pedestrian friendly seafront.

Write to:
Councillor Chris Wells, The Leader of Thanet Council
Thanet Residents: Find and write to your ward councillor

 

Back to the future!

back to the futureFollowing Tesco’s decision that a large superstore is unviable at Arlington, Margate now has the opportunity to look at viable options.

1. Freshwater can now open the 500 space car park and arcade of shops.
2. Kent County Council and Thanet District Council can now get back on track working on the pedestrian friendly seafront scheme (PDF) from the railway station to Turner Contemporary.

We have moved a new Facebook Page. We’ll no longer be updating the No To Tesco Page. We’ve also got a new twitter id: @ArlingtonMar

The future is looking bright!

High Court Judgment

We are disappointed with the today’s judgment at the High Court. This is particularly so when the Judge, Lord Justice Moses was clear that the environmental effects of both Arlington and Dreamland should have been considered as a whole – and our understanding from the Secretary of State and the Public Inquiry was that clearly was not the case.

It is also of concern that the Secretary of State has now stated publicly that there must be an end to out of town/edge of town development being proposed by Tesco.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/10505321/Eric-Pickles-interview-The-British-high-street-can-survive.html

We will be considering the judgment carefully and then deciding what to do.

In the meantime, a huge thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign. We all know Margate is regenerating. The improvements to the seafront are bearing fruit.  New hotels, restaurants, shops, the new sea defence steps. Dreamland on the horizon and even more planned hotels.

Join in the Arlington Margate Events

Since our last news update, we’re pleased to report that we’ve managed to raise almost £3000 from our target of £5000 to cover our legal fees for the upcoming Public Inquiry!
The Inquiry starts November 6th. We need to ensure that evidence supporting a sustainable Margate seafront is put before the Planning Inspector. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated. No matter how small, every single donation has really helped.

Arlington Exhibition

The Arlington Margate exhibition at Streets Ahead Margate community hub space at 60 High Street is open. We’re currently open from 12pm – 3.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. If we can get more volunteers to man the shop we can be open even more. The exhibition features the Village in the Sky by photographer Duncan Smith.
Featured alongside we have the 1960s original East Kent Times 16 page Arlington special feature containing pictures and information celebrating the construction of Margate’s infamous icon. Ever wanted to know how many cups of tea were drunk during Arlington’s construction? We have the answer.

Arlington Margate Film Night


We really love the Hydropathe film club on Mondays at the bijou Tom Thumb Theatre, Cliftonville. So, we’re very proud that on Monday October 22nd there is an Arlington Margate special film night. We can’t tell you what film it will be, but it is an Arlington Margate special. Please come along and show some love for Arlington and Margate or even both! There is a bar, there’s popcorn and the theatre is beautiful.

Doors open at 6.30 for music and drinks, the films start at 7.30pm. £2.50 to join.
2A Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, Margate, CT9 2LB
www.tomthumbtheatre.co.uk

Arlington Auction
Looking for something special for Christmas and to give to a good cause?
What can we say, Margate residents and businesses have generously donated a range of amazing gifts to the Arlington Auction. We’ve raised £676 in bids in the first 48 hours! Thank you everyone! Ranging from limited edition artworks and prints, meals in restaurants, courses of yoga, to an over night stay at a 5 Star B&B, offers of work, courses.  Margate really has a talented bunch of people as well as having supporters from further afield. Bidding runs until Sunday October 28th at 9pm. You’re still in time to donate an item or service to the auction. Just pop us an email to info@arlingtonmargate.com.
All these wonderful lots are listed on our website: www.arlingtonmargate.com/auction/ 

Support Us
Donations are gratefully received, no matter how small and can be given by Paypal, BACs or cheque. www.arlingtonmargate.com/support.

Public Inquiry for Arlington Margate Tesco Postponed

The Planning Inspectorate have advised us that following consideration of our latest legal letter from Richard Buxton issued 27th February, that the Public Inquiry set to start tomorrow on Tuesday 13th March is being postponed. We had raised serious concerns regarding the legality of the status of the Environmental Impact Analysis statement.

The campaign still continues. We will carry on fighting for a sustainable and positive development at Arlington. One that complements our seaside town heritage and not one that crushes it. It is likely to be at least a month, if not more, before anything happens.

More news to follow. For now take a deep breath, Margate. We just won another round!

English Heritage announce they assessing Arlington House and Site for Listing

News came through today that English Heritage are offically assessing the whole of the Arlington House site for listing. This includes the shops and carpark. We haven’t yet had full confirmation from Thanet District Council but they have managed to say that they received a letter from English Heritage. But we have spoken directly to English Heritage who confirmed the news. Hopefully, this information will be made available to the Planning Committee before this evening, who one would imagine now, shouldn’t be making any rash decisions that will have to be reconsulted. That would be highly unorthodox, given the circumstances.

Dreamland Trust’s response to TDC ‘independent’ heritage report

Dreamland Trust have commented in response to the ‘independent’ TDC commissioned report written by Chris Miele. This Dreamland document will not be presented to the Planning Committee on Weds October 19th. Dr Miele’s report, however, will. This Dreamland Trust document has not been published by TDC along with other relevant documents, such as Miele’s report, for information on UK Planning.
We are informed by TDC that Dr Miele’s report is only an Agenda item and as such, public speaking or comment is not, according to the Council’s constitution, allowed.
Is the public and the Planning Committee to be denied access to the opinion of the expertise of the Dreamland Trust? Given the importance Dreamland is to Margate and it’s future?
Here is the response from Dreamland Trust to Dr Miele’s report sent to TDC 12th October 2011.
Planning Committee
Thanet District Council
Cecil Square
Margate
Kent
CT9 1XZ12 October 2011Dear Members

PLANNING APPLICATION REFERENCE NUMBER F/TH/10/1061 (ARLINGTON HOUSE & 1-50 ARLINGTON SQUARE, MARGATE CT9 1XP)

We understand that members are being updated on the application to build a 7,565 square metre superstore on top of the existing multi-storey Arlington car park in light of the recent upgrading of the listing status of the Scenic Railway. We are writing to formally object to the proposed plans on the grounds of the impact the development will have on the setting of Dreamland site’s suite of heritage assets: the recently upgraded Grade II* listed Scenic Railway, the Grade II* Cinema building, and the Grade II listed menagerie cages and we are also concerned about the potential harm to the fabric of the menagerie cages.

The proposed superstore is too big for the site. The metal-clad back wall of the superstore will dwarf Dreamland’s heritage assets, providing an overbearing and inappropriate backdrop to the group of listed structures and the landscaped amusement park that is being rebuilt around them.

We also question Dr Chris Miele’s report, Expert opinion on the proposed redevelopment of Arlington House and the effect on Heritage Assets, commissioned by Thanet District Council and (we understand) funded by the developers.

We consider Dr Miele’s report to be biased and factually inaccurate, and we question why the Council described the report in a recent press release as “independent”.  For this report to be truly independent there needs to be evidence that there are no conflicts of interest.

Evidence that the report is not being written objectively can be found even in the introductory paragraphs, where he states at paragraph 1.12:

“The application site is in the setting of the following listed buildings which I have considered: the Grade II* Dreamland Cinema, Grade II animal cages and menagerie and the Scenic Railway already mentioned, now graded II*.  The application site has been excluded from the Margate Conservation Area. Their exclusion from it is noteworthy and reflects, I assume, the degraded immediate setting of the listed structure and the menagerie/cages.”

His reference to “the application site” here should be to the Arlington site, but the following sentence states “their exclusion from it”, which suggests he is actually referring to the listed structures.  If that is the case (and really he needs to explain which he is referring to), there can be no justification for stating that it is “noteworthy” that the structures are outside the conservation area and that the “degraded” setting may have contributed to it, unless he is laying the foundations for a report that is going to be diminishing their importance.  In addition, he should have been aware that the conservation area was defined in 1997 when Dreamland was operating.

He also has not considered the potential for damage to the animal enclosures anywhere in his report.  At first glance, he may have excluded this thinking that it had no relationship to the upgrading of the Scenic Railway.  But damage to the enclosures, that could result in their partial or complete loss or damage, would undermine the Scenic Railway due to its strong connection to the enclosures (see 3.30 for his understanding of these functional and historic relationships).

The 18TH-century Gothick wall supporting the menagerie cages and cottage abutting the Arlington car park are fragile structures and building works may jeopardise their integrity.  The Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s Conservation Management Plan (2010) describes the wall as being in a very precarious condition; the cages in an unstable state and currently substantially held up by temporary propping.  The lintels appear to have failed completely in the smaller cages with the triple arch head to the largest cage being dependent on propping.

In 3.31 Dr Miele incorrectly suggests that English Heritage did not give great weight to the setting of the Scenic Railway because it is degraded and no longer functional (in fact, he states its setting is “lost”).  He is obviously not aware of the fact that the park is to be rebuilt and that English Heritage has been involved in this project so is fully aware of it. This point significantly undermines his report and we would ask that he review his statement in the knowledge that the functional/historic setting of the Scenic Railway is not lost. This theme runs all the way through the report and we believe materially affects his overall conclusions.

He also mixes up his ‘wests’ and his ‘easts’, suggesting a lack of understanding of the site’s context (e.g. 4.18, 4.21).

His conclusions on rarity in 4.29 are completely wrong, again demonstrating that he was not properly briefed on our plans and seemingly unaware that English Heritage has been closely involved.

4.21 is wrong. The land to the east of the Scenic was always part and parcel of the Dreamland land holding and these views should be treated with equal importance (albeit part of it was leased to Margate FC for a few years at the time that the Scenic Railway was erected).

His second point in 4.22 is technically correct, but again does not take account of the development that will reinstate the Scenic’s original setting.  Regarding his third point, the Scenic’s setting will be mediated by landscape in the future, but that landscape would not disguise the overbearing appearance of the rear of the shed.  In 4.23 he admits he has not seen our landscape proposals, but he could have seen them on the Dreamland Margate website (www.dreamlandmargate.com) and in the Sea Change documentation. The Council should also have made him aware of this when he was briefed.

4.31 to 4.33 is very weak and almost doesn’t consider the effects of the new building at all, other than saying it is not actually on the site. It is in this section of his analysis that we would have expected to see some acknowledgement of impact.

Throughout the next few paragraphs he again relies continuously on the fact that the setting has been compromised (4.38 is yet another example of this).

In 5.2, we are not sure how his report allows him to conclude that the new building will not intrude on the aesthetic appreciation of the structure.  Dr Miele appears to completely misunderstand the aesthetics of the Scenic Railway.

He refers to the technical and engineering aesthetic of the Scenic Railway as seen from an observer’s perspective.  He does not discuss the aesthetics of riding the Scenic Railway from a passenger’s perspective and that is the point – the roller coaster is called the Scenic Railway because of the vista from the train, which is the unique selling point of the ride.

The scenery around the Scenic Railway is a fundamental part of the ride.  Our Stage 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund describes the full restoration the Scenic Railway to its former working glory.  If we are going to invite visitors to pay to ride the fully restored Scenic Railway to its former glory then we will be peddling a lie. Additionally, Thanet District Council’s application to the DCMS Sea Change fund for the reinstatement of Dreamland was granted with the condition that landscape architects led the project. Landscape is at the heart of the Dreamland project.

It is abundantly clear that the proposed large-scale superstore will have an adverse impact on the overall aesthetic of the park, its landscaped gardens and picnic areas.  It puts at risk the Grade II listed menagerie cages, gothick wall and cottage and compromises the setting of the Grade II* Scenic Railway. This development will ultimately degrade the visitor experience.

We would also like to point out that it is the local authority’s stated aim to improve the setting of Dreamland’s listed structures and allowing this structure on the boundary of the site is directly contradictory to that aim.

Yours faithfully

Nick Laister
Chairman
For and on behalf of The Dreamland Trust

Cc Alan Byrne, Historic Buildings and Planning Advisor, English Heritage
Tom Foxall, Historic Buildings Inspector, English Heritage
Cherry Aplin, Assistant Planning Manager, TDC

Thanet District Council finally issue a statement on Arlington – albeit a confusing one

Thanet District Council have issued a first press release since they were put under legal notice that to make a decision on the current planning application without re-consulting would be unlawful. Their statement is somewhat ambiguous. It makes no mention of whether the material change affecting the site will be also put to consultation.

“The upgraded listing of the Scenic Railway will be taken into account in the decision making process on the application for Arlington House in Margate, that’s the promise from Thanet District Council.

The Scenic Railway’s listed status was upgraded in July from Grade II to Grade II*, putting it into the top 6% most important listed buildings in the country.

The council’s position on this is set out in writing by the council’s Corporate and Regulatory Services Manager, Harvey Patterson. He confirms that the council will not be issuing a decision notice on the Arlington application, until the issue of the re-listing of the Scenic Railway is taken into account. However, the council has yet to decide whether a report will be made to the Planning Committee.

The plans to build a new retail superstore next to Arlington House were passed back to Thanet District Council by the government in July. The application had been supported by the council’s Planning Committee in June and it is now being looked at by officers, who are putting in place a Section 106 agreement.

The application proposes a 7,565 square metre superstore being built on the existing car park, with 409 new parking spaces at ground floor, with the store above. It also proposes improvements to Arlington House, with outline proposals for the demolition of the existing retail units in Arlington Square. These would be replaced with a two, three and four storey building, accommodating shops, offices, cafes, restaurants or bars, with a 60 room hotel above, overlooking the seafront.”

Publication date: 07 September, 2011
ENDS

Freshwater application to be returned to Committee after successful legal challenge

It’s not every day we get to report some good news from Thanet District Council regarding Freshwater’s application to build the UK’s first seafront superstore in Margate. On Wednesday the 3rd of August, our solicitors from Richard Buxton in Cambridge sent a letter to TDC. Richard Buxton’s firm are particularly well known for bringing judicial reviews and challenges to decisions affecting the environment, this niche practice is renowned throughout the country as “the team of choice for claimant organisations and pressure groups.” 

They stated:

“On 7 July 2011 the DCMS determined that the adjoining grade II Scenic Railway is of sufficient interest to merit upgrading the listing from grade II to grade II*. This decision is relevant to any decision by the Council to issue the decision notice. As such, the application must to be remitted back to the Planning Committee for redetermination on the basis of a correct understanding of change in the listing status of the railway since any development would impact on the setting of the Scenic Railway.”

And further

“The Council will also be aware that material considerations have to be judged as at the date the decision notice is issued, rather than the date of any Committee resolution.  Consequently, if, as here, there is a change in material considerations following the committee decision the application must go back to committee: R v South Cambridgeshire District Council ex p Kides [2003] 1 P. & C.R. 19. “

Last night we received word from Ward Councillor Iris Johnston that Thanet District Council have advised that following legal advice, the whole Freshwater application must come back to TDC planning committee. The change of status of the nearby scenic railway is a ‘material consideration’.