There is no interest in developing the hotel site

Using the scale drawings from the Freshwater/Tesco planning application for work to the Arlington site in Margate, members of the local Conservation Area Advisory Group, Liam Nabb and architect Sam Causer have created a more detailed elevation of the drawing proposal seen from the beach. We can see how it will appear if the superstore portion of the development were completed without the seafront hotel and shops (these are outline planning only).

This is the most likely scenario, as the seafront part of the development has so far only been submitted for Outline Planning Permission, and is not tied in to development of the rest of the site. There are no contracts or developers in place for a hotel, shops or any of the other seafront buildings, so if a developer were to come forward they would have to apply for a new planning permission meaning the site could remain empty for years to come. The developer is asking for permission to demolish the seafront side of Arlington without having a contract in place for what will replace it. Our concern is that without the seafront buildings the most dominant building on Margate’s seafront will be the five-storey face of a flat-roofed superstore shed, FIVE TIMES the size of Turner Contemporary, rising up out of a private superstore car park.

This is in breach of Thanet Council’s own Arlington Planning brief which was adoped at Full Council in 2008:

“It will […] be a requirement that comprehensive proposals are permitted for all of […] the site and a contract in place for comprehensive redevelopment of the total site.”

This means that planning permission for a superstore should only be granted when all contracts are in place and full plans for the whole site are proposed.  We do not want to see a massive five storey shed and private car park right next to the beach, with queues of traffic blocking the seafront.

This proposal goes against so many of the council’s other aims, including:

1) “[…] to provide a positive landmark development including a mix of uses that will complement adjacent sites and help regenerate Margate seafront and town centre.”

2) “A development that provides stronger pedestrian and cycle links and seeks to improve public transport links between Margate Station and Margate High Street, in order to improve permeability within central Margate.”

3) “The introduction of active frontages to the Marine Terrace and All Saints Avenue frontages to create interest, encourage pedestrian movement and make a place where people feel safe and secure.”

4) “[…] a high quality townscape relationship between the Arlington site and Dreamland and improving the relationship of the development to Marine Terrace, to improve its visual impact, accessibility and legibility in a manner that embraces the principles of Kent Design.”

5) “A development that embraces the principals of sustainability.”

We applaud the council for establishing these objectives back in 2008, but condemn them for failing to honour them now.

Furthermore, documents have recently come to light that where the developer Freshwater communicated to Thanet District Council on May 28th, just before the application went before Planning Committee in June, that there is currently no interest in the site from hotel operators, that they have a low perception of the area and that they, Freshwater, would have preferred a 5 year time period to get a hotel contractor in place. That’s 5 years with no completed seafront hotel in place and a gaping hole with views to the back of a supermarket from Margate’s Main Sands. Remember that when you next see a press article with a photo of a ‘revamped’ seafront with a hotel on it:

Philip Robin from King Sturge wrote to TDC Planning Officers, Cherry Aplin and Simon Thomas stating:

“3. We share your desire to see that the site planning permission is fully implemented at the earliest opportunity. There is no interest in the phase 2 development at present and we do not anticipate the situation will change until the supermarket is trading and the refurbishment of Arlington House has occurred, which will hopefully change potential hotel operator’s perception of the area. ..”

Download the email 23/05/11 19:21

Newly released documents reveal TDC and Freshwater threat to Arlington House evict residents

Page 1 of Draft S106 May 6th 2011
Page 2 of Draft S106 May 6th 2011

Over at Margate’s library, aka The Gateway, there is a big blue lever arch file. You can read it if you ask to see the  planning appeal files for Arlington. In this big blue file there are 200 or so pages of emails. The emails are correspondence between the agent for the developer, Liz Humphries, and Thanet District Council planning officers. Basically, this file is Liz Humphries’ correspondence file for the Arlington Freshwater planning application. And given it is in chronological order, it makes for very interesting reading. It tells the story of how Thanet District Council did or didn’t negotiate with Freshwater the proposal to construct the UK’s largest seafront megastore.

As an appeal document, this file is now in the public domain. It still feels strange reading it, because so much of the chatty language between Freshwater and TDC and information held within it were clearly not intended to be made public. Although, public servants should always be aware that they are public servants and subject to Freedom of Information requests.

Over the coming days we’ll be discussing the issues that this file raises. One thing that we came away feeling was that TDC is helpful and enabling, if you happen to be a large corporate developer.

Today’s Gazette has published an article about a draft Section 106 agreement that is contained in the file. But unfortunately, the Gazette didn’t get it quite right. We’ve been asking Thanet District Council for sight of a Section 106 agreement from the beginning of this planning application. Afterall, with a development of this size, one would imagine there would be a substantial planning gain for Margate. And further, that details would be discussed before permission was granted to the developer. None was ever forthcoming. But the blue file delivers. On May 6th 2011, therefore just before the application went to Planning Committee on June 15th, the agents for the developers sent over to Thanet District Council a draft S106.

Item 3. of the Section106 Heads of Terms states:

“If one or more resident whose lease gives them control of their windows do not agree to their replacement by the developer, the local planning authority will use CPO powers [or any other power as freeholder of the site?] to enable the Arlington House improvement works to be completed. In this event, the developer will pay for the local planning authority’s reasonable costs in relation to the CPO and any compensation and will undertake the remaining works within six months of the acquisition of the last property [the intention would be to undertake replacement of all the outstanding windows at the same time].

Today’s Gazette article states:

“The draft suggestions were thrown out by Thanet Council planners as unworkable…”

We don’t know where the evidence is that TDC threw this suggestion out. We’ve been through the file from cover to cover and despite it containing communication between the developer and TDC right up until November 2011, there is no documentary evidence of TDC negotiating or refusing Freshwater’s suggestion to CPO the  flats of Arlington House residents. The proposal also was not an early day discussion. It appeared on May 6th just before the application went to committee in June. If there is evidence it was thrown out, or even discussed we’d like to see it.

Is this the reason why TDC refused to reveal any details about the content of the Section 106 agreement to date?

We’d also like to know why TDC planners were forwarding the private emails from residents directly to the developers. There are numerous incidents of this in the file and surely raises serious concerns regarding a breach of the Data Protection Act. Made all the more serious that many of the residents concerned are tenants of the developers.

Why have we set up the Arlington House blog?

On Wednesday the 14th of June 2011, Thanet District Council’s Planning Committee referred the application to build a Supermarket Superstore of 7500m2 at Arlington House and Arlington Square to the Secretary of State with a recommendation for approval. The Committee were deadlocked with a vote of 7 for approval and 7 for refusal. The Chairman, Independent Councillor Jack Cohen cast the deciding vote to approve the application. The decision depended on 1 vote. The decision now rests with Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Government.

This blog has been set up to publish information on the history or Arlington House and Arlington Square. It is a prominent seafront building in Margate. Our aim is to build an archive of past, present and future of Arlington and its role at the centre of Margate. No matter what technicality the authorities claim that this is a site on the outskirts. Anyone coming in to Margate knows that this is at the heart of the town.

If you have stories, history or anecdotes about Arlington to contribute, please get in touch at

We ask that the proposals currently on the table be taken to a Public Enquiry. It seems only fair after the decision was made on a single casting vote of the newly appointed Chairman. We’re suggesting people make their views known by contacting Mr Eric Pickles MP and asking for this:

If you fancy some initial further reading, you could do worse than download and peruse the ARLINGTON PLANNING BRIEF, which was adopted by Full Council in 2008 and is the basis on how schemes for the Arlington site should be based on. You can then judge for yourself if you think this latest proposal of building of a huge 24 hour superstore fits with this  enter the reference F/TH/10/1061 .