What a sad weekend it has been. 16.5mm of rain on Sunday morning and over an inch of rain by mid-day meant that to all intents and purposes, Spring Bank Holiday has been a 'Margate Meltdown' but not the one advertised.
Passing along Marine Terrace at 4 different times today saw a distinct lack of viistors, bikers and coffee slurpers enjoying the cafe culture down at Old Town and Harbour Arm. In fact Police, Specials, PCSOs, Community Wardens, St John's Ambulance and TDC stewards (all in high vis jackets) almost outnumbered the general public. It was as sad as the small crowd of 50-100 who watched the fireworks on Saturday night.
MD Gifts opened for the morning but had closed by lunch-time.
Before you blame the weather, just think for a moment about the lack of an all weather visitor facility that could have been sitting on The Dreamland site. However, you must realise that the people directing where Margate is going know better. This article escaped my attention last year but it sheds light on what is going on. See Property Week.com and the article "Time to Leave Dreamland" by Sean McAllister at www.propertyweek.com/story.asp?storyCode=3082130 .
Our local papers talk about Graham Knight and Dr Fiona Sherriff of Margate Harbour Arm Ltd who are also Pineapple Property (Kent)Ltd and also Ramsgate Estates. The farce at Margate Harbour has seen May come to and end and its 2 restaurants/cafes/2 retail sheds/IOTA Gallery/ 7 twee permanent studios not ready. You might be pleased to read that Margate Harbour Arm/Pineapple/ Ramsgate Estates is in receipt of generous public funding via Margate Renewal Partnership from TDC and European Regeneration Development Fund and there has been a report that IOTA (to move from Ramsgate) and Margate Harbour Arm Ltd received a grant from 'Arts & Business?'
I urge you to read the article by Sean McAllister. Here are some bits to savour:
"After being sold to Jim Godden in 1996, the park was scaled down and permanent rides were sold off. It was effectively closed in 2002, despite attracting 700,000 visitors in its last year, and it was left to travelling fairs to lease the space for their temporary rides.
Godden clearly had property development aspirations, but there was an obstacle he could not move: the Scenic Railway."
This is about Toby Hunter of Waterbridge:
"Toby Hunter, chief executive of Waterbridge and the regeneration company, has plans for a £500m scheme that will comprise around 1m sq ft (92,900 sq m) of residential and 300,000 sq ft (27,870 sq m) of retail and leisure."
"But it is the residential element that really excites him. House prices have gone up sharply in Margate in recent years to more than £300/sq ft (£3,230/sq m) and rising, so Hunter can expect to make a substantial profit if he can secure residential planning and then sell off chunks of land to housebuilders." (Hasn't he done that now?)
This is Nick Laister on Dreamland (how his tune changed?):
"Leisure and tourism uses would be most appropriate,’ he says. ‘It is key to Margate or it will lose all the family trade.’ His ideal scenario would be something similar to Adventure Island in Southend, which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year.
Laister adds: ‘[A residential scheme at] Dreamland is not needed to provide all the housing that Margate needs.’"
This is about Graham Knight:
"Graham Knight, director of Pineapple Property, started buying property in Margate four years ago. Pineapple now has 100 residential and mixed-use buildings in its portfolio."
I described Margate as a bit like the 'Wild West' in early April, but now I realise that its really a dying 'steer' with the vultures circling for easy and cheap pickings from the carcass even before its dead. TDC, as the 'sherriff', will mark the grave with a big tombstone designed by Chipperfield by 2010, if the money actually is forthcoming to build it.
As the rain pours down at the end of a depressing day, weep with me for the Margate we used to have. The 'vultures'now have a cash flow crisis and will not be in a position to develop in the forseeable future so will just sit by the carcass for some years to come as it rots away. They will then pick over the bones.
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