It may surprise some readers that Margate in Kent saw the sharpest increase in house prices outside of the capital in 2015. With high growth continuing into 2016, what is causing this once declining seaside town to rise from the ashes in such a dramatic way?
Well, it could be something to do with the huge 10-15 year regeneration program aimed at changing the face of Margate but also the wider Thanet region. In this article I want to have a look at four specific projects related to the regeneration of Margate.
Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading art galleries and the decision to house the gallery in Margate is significant, as it was here in the Kent seaside town that the gallery’s namesake and cherished British painters JMW Turner habitually stayed on his visits to the county. The gallery, which opened to the public in 2011 and which was designed by David Chipperfield, is at the forefront of the area’s cultural regeneration.
Turner’s newly appointed chairman Clive Stevens recalls a Margate before the Turner Contemporary was opened, describing it as “really derelict”. Now, however, he says “…you go down there on a Sunday afternoon and it’s quite vibrant. Something like 50 businesses have opened there since the Turner opened and it has attracted two million visitors, which has brought money into the area.”
It would appear that he is right to be optimistic since, according the one of the gallery’s directors, Victoria Pomeroy, it has a “hugely exciting and ambitious programme planned for the next few years and it is excellent to have a chair supported by a board of trustees, who is committed to the future success of the gallery.”
The gallery recently welcomed its two millionth visitor and having contributed over £41m to the local Kent economy, is set to continue transforming and enriching the lives of tourists and local residents alike.
You might not have heard of Dreamland but for many years it was one of Britain’s best loved amusement parks before it fell into disrepair in the early 2000’s. There were many attempts to save the park until in September 2013 ownership passed to Thanet District Council. Then in 2014 it was announced the park would be redeveloped, with funding coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Thanet District Council, and the Government’s Sea Change programme.
The so-called Re-imagined Dreamland was opened to the public in June 2015 with restoration work completed on the park’s grade II listed scenic railway rollercoaster (I know, I didn’t realise rollercoasters could get grade II listing status either). Many more rides were added in July. Since it’s opening last year the Re-imagined Dreamland amusement park has seen tourist numbers to Margate surge and has given a huge lift to the local economy.
Margate Old Town
With some in the press nicknaming Margate a ‘hipster’s paradise’ and ‘Shoreditch-on Sea’, it certainly seems that Margate’s reputation has undergone a radical transformation. You need only walk through the old town to see why this is. The place is bustling with new independent boutique shops and business is booming. With both Dreamland and Turner Contemporary pulling in more tourists, cafes and bars are also popping up and more and more businesses are setting up shop.
Live Margate is a 10-15 year program to convert derelict and unoccupied buildings in Margate into liveable family homes. The scheme is focusing particularly on the Cliftonville West and Margate Central areas with the hope of regenerating these areas by attracting people looking to buy a new home. This is being done by encouraging owner occupation and improving the housing standards of existing properties. £23.1 million is being invested in the scheme which runs until 2026. The scheme is being administered by Thanet District Council, Kent County Council and the Homes & Communities Agency and is part of the ongoing regeneration of Margate.