Tuesday, 11 June 2013


One of Ramsgate seafronts most iconic buildings the Victoria Pavilion is about to go under the auctioneers hammer, if Thanet Council's Cabinet has it way. The century old listed building has been leased from Thanet Council by the Rank Organisation since 1969 for the princely sum of £6,000 per year! In that time the building has been a nightclub and a casino and sadly been subject to extensive internal vandalism by  Rank without Thanet Council lifting a finger to force its tenant to repair the damage (estimated to be £millions). For the past  5 years this forlorn and sad building has been boarded up and has haunted our seafront with memories of the splendid past and fear for a squandered future.
Meeting on 20th June Thanet Council’s  Cabinet is likely to agree to extend the remaining lease term (31 years) to over 100 years in order to make it easier/ more attractive for the Rank Organisation or the Council to sell on the lease to another commercial concern.

But hang on a minute. Why should the Cabinet  be giving Rank a get-out-of-jail-free-card by ignoring its past dirty deeds and helping  it to divest itself of a lease it no longer wants without having to pay a penny for trashing the insides of one of the most  important community assets in Ramsgate? This reminds me of the approach the Cabinet and Council Officers have been taking towards failing Pleasurama developer SFP Ventures - instead of taking a tough stance against them for blighting our seafront for a decade they are indulging them to the point of sycophancy.
One other little detail  which seems to have escaped the attention of Cabinet members and council officers, is the opinion of the  local Ramsgate community. Before this lovely and important publically owned  building is pimped out to the highest bidder and taken out of public control for 100 years or longer, surely these must be some sort of public consultation and discussion about what local people think the building should be used for and perhaps insisting that the new tenants make available some community space in this large building.

Also I suspect that the Cabinet and council officers have conveniently overlooked  the Localism Act 2011 which requires “local authorities to maintain a list of assets of community value which have been nominated by the local community. When listed assets come up for sale or change of ownership, the Act then gives community groups the time to develop a bid and raise the money to bid to buy the asset when it comes on the open market. This will help local communities keep much-loved sites in public use and part of local life”.
Personally, I think that the Victoria Pavilion is one of the most important community assets in Thanet and rather than plan for its immediate disposal to goodness knows  who, the Cabinet should actually be engaging with the local community, as per the Localism Act,  to explore ideas for its future use and to identify funding sources (Coastal Communities Grant, Heritage Lottery Fund) to pay for  the development of these ideas.

Like the  Pleasurama site the Pavilion is an important community asset. Let’s act to keep it that way and take control over its future development rather than sell it to the highest bidder.

The Cabinet meets to discuss this plan on 20 June 7pm Cecil Square offices Margate. Please come along to that meeting to lobby Cabinet members and persuade them not to agree the proposal and have a community consultation instead. I have copied the proposal below.
In the meantime please e-mail Thanet Cabinet members and ask them to defer their decision to dispose of the Victoria Pavilion and instead  begin a  public consultation on its use and ownership by the community. We need to act now before it’s too late.

Here are the Cabinet member e-mails. 4 of the Cabinet members are also Ramsgate  Councillors. I hope that they might be persuaded to do the right thing

Proposal for Cabinet 20th June

 Cabinet are asked to consider supporting a possible extension to the leasehold
interest of the Royal Victoria Pavilion, Ramsgate (site plan in Annex 2) in order to
facilitate private sector capital investment. There are currently 31 years unexpired on
the original lease agreement granted by the Authority in 1969 for use of the property.
Expressions of interest have been received for the site from third parties, both directly and via the tenant, but the unexpired period of the current lease is too short to
support the level of investment required to bring the building back into effective
commercial use. The freehold of the property will be retained by the council, but

Cabinet is asked to consider authorising officers to expand the marketing process of
the lease, in conjunction with the existing tenant, for the site, in an open and
transparent method, whilst ensuring best value and probity for the Authority. This
assistance would be by being able to offer an extended lease of over 100 years, if
necessary to the party taking over the building on the basis of a guaranteed
investment from them. The value of this extension would be to support the investment and not to increase the value of the lease to the current lessees. At this stage it is not proposed that the council places any specific restriction on the commercial transfer of the lease as landlord, but clearly any changes to the building and its use would be subject to planning and listed building applications. In considering potential tenants under a longer lease term the Authority will be in a position to consider financial issues against social benefits achievable. 




  1. same thing with Freshwater at Arlington, let the place run down and do nothing to upkeep the area contrary to a clause in the lease agreement, do TDC really give a toss?

  2. well all I can say is Thanet District Council really needs to look at what it is losing, These buildings need revamping and using, INDOOR SKATING RINK that's a start

  3. Pavilion has one 'l'

    1. sorry anon spellin not my strong point but pimp does have 2 ps

    2. As John Hamilton said to me: "There's only one 'f' in Driver." I always thought he was an illiterate tw*t.

  4. wetherspoons asap

    1. Maybe Weatherspoons has role in the Pavs future. Maybe not. But instead of all this undignified haste to get rid of her, there should be a debate - commercial use, community use, a bit of both. The fact that this is not being discussed at all it a worry to me. I will of course be letting the cabinet know my views on 20th

    2. The Pavilion has been on the market for a considerable period of time at a very low price. I did consider buying it myself but a few calculations on the back of an envelope quickly put paid to that. Anybody who had an economically viable idea for using it could have taken their business plan to the bank and sought to borrow money for the venture. However, it's far easier to come up with crackpot ideas on a blog and then blame others for not pursuing them. I'd like to see something done with the Pavilion but it's up to brave souls to come forward with their plans and for the council to be as sympathetic as they can whilst protecting the heritage of the area. It would be a good idea for the council to publish their thoughts on the matter e.g. We would be minded to accept a pub/restaurant/nightclub/arcade/ beachside gym. We would not be minded to accept a pole-dancing club, retirement home for council officers or nuclear waste facility. Then we'd all know whether our ideas were worth a punt.

    3. crackpot scheme like Pleasurama perhaps?

  5. Anon 21.23 It might make marketing the lease a lot easier if the building was in a fair condition instead of the interior having been destroyed and fire damaged. What happened to the insurance money?

  6. Pleasurama was great. My kids used to love it. The problems all started when it fell victim to flames of Godden. The council should have insisted that the site was redeveloped for leisure and entertainment. The mistake was to assume that you had to allow a shark in a sharp suit to make vast sums of money to get anything done. You would have to be very stupid to assume that a property developer who is only interested in the bottom line would do anything for your community unless you built it into the contract in black and white. The fault lies with the council for failing to negotiate from the residents' perspective.

  7. Council should serve another notice a seek possession, not bribe the lessees who are putting their fingers up.