Designed by Russell Diplock and Associates, developed by Bernard Sunley Trust and built by contractors Bernard Sunley and Sons, the Arlington Square site is composed of Arlington House an18 story, 142 apartment building, Arlington Square shopping piazza, and shops on All Saints Avenue and Marine Terrace with extensive parking for 500 vehicles and related petrol filing and taxi rank facilities.
The site is largely unchanged since it was completed in 1964, and was advertised as “Britain’s first ‘park and buy’ shopping centre with luxury flats. Arlington House symbolises the general spirit of optimism and imaginative thinking that is often thought of as characterising the 1960’s and was described as “marking the completion of the first stage of Margate’s redevelopment,” when it was opened in 1964.
From the Thanet District Council’s Conservation Officer’s report, 2011:
“The tower block is a building of considerable merit; arguably ‘listable’ with extremely well considered crisp detailed elevations which add positively to the architectural character of the town – it’s jazziness responding well to the seaside atmosphere. It is a far superior building to the residential tower blocks erected by local authorities prior to the Ronan Point incident of 1968.”
The undulating east and west facades of the building imitate the waves breaking on the beach and enable flats in the building to have both waterfront and country side views, with breezes having the potential to enter windows from varying directions. The interior finishes are of a high specification. The ground floor lift lobby is detailed in Carrara marble, there is frameless glass to concrete fenestration and the double wood and glass front entrance doors have brass fittings. A teak and brass concierge lodge greets residents at the end of the substantial corridor style entrance hall. Each metal lift door is framed in wood and interior hallways are wide and spacious. The building has an original electronic keyless entry system with intercom communications between each flat and the front and rear doors.
The Residents of Arlington House have always used the dedicated first floor, elevated parking deck, with a separate electronic key fob operated, secure rear entry to the first floor lobby of the building and transition to the two lifts which serve the tower, whilst the separate ground floor and first floor parking facilities were used by members of the public. Contemporary adverts talked of, “Outstanding parking amenities to include – separate parking facilities for shops and flat, two level car park and station for 123 coaches with booking and petrol filling facilities and a Taxi rank serving the station.”
The luxury flats in Arlington House were originally rented with lease terms of 3,5,or 7 years.
A 1965 advertisement for Arlington House notes that services include high-speed lifts, refuse disposal, 24 hour porterage and car parking facilities etc.
Rental costs, (exclusive of rates) were:
- 1 bedroom from £295 per year
- 2 bedrooms from £325 per year
- 3 bedrooms from £345 per year ( or half the annual salary of a beginning teacher)
In 1965, the Annual salary for an experienced teacher was £1,620 – slightly less than a GP’s salary but more than double a police constable’s salary of £700. – A beginning primary school teacher was paid approx. £725 a year. – House prices on average were twice a teacher’s salary. £2,500 for a semi-detached house in the Midlands. £4,000 for a detached house in the London suburbs.
The commercial facilities on the site were described as: “A self contained shopping centre with units fronting Marine Terrace, All Saints Avenue and the internal Piazza, forming the only modern shopping centre in Margate and having a two storey car and coach park for 500 vehicles. With rentals for shops starting at £700 per year (exclusive of rates).”