Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Is the New Margate Tesco Going to be Brutal Enough?

Having bunged the council’s latest press release up on the Thanet Press Release blog at earlier, I have just had a chance to read the thing properly.

This was one of the very few occasions that the council also sent me the pictures that go with the press release. I can’t tell really, but it always seems when this happens there has been some sort of mistake and that they intended to withhold them. Pity really as the mixture of the pictures that they get sent by architects of new proposals and the excellent photographs the council take themselves appear to end up where us lot, the people who pay for them, never get to see them.

In terms of the brutalist movement in architecture Arlington House was thought in its time to be something a bit special, I think prizes were involved, possibly a bit of a gherkin in its day.

Anyway looking at the picture above, courtesy TDC what is being proposed looks like something out the 90s shopping mall school of architecture and I wondered if anyone else thought it out of keeping with Arlington House.
I have always thought that there was something Clockwork Orangeish about Arlington House, somewhere to take the devochka, better not go into that one, anyway I have to say that I am a bit disappointed.


  1. In answer to your question, the general concensus with locals is that it won't be brutal enough unless they demolish the thing; but this is a step in the right direction. I can't believe that some people would prefer to keep it the way it is, complete with shops that have been boarded up for 20+ years.

  2. I think it belongs to the "Very little helps" school fo architecture

  3. I love Tesco they are the way forward, the light and our salvation. Anything they want to do is good with me, I just hope and pray that the glow from their large neon signs is bright enough to reach my humble dwelling so i can bathe in the warmth of their prescence.


  4. 18.23 I can only admire your Tescoral piety.

  5. Marty perhaps it’s supposed to match the Turner.

  6. Peter sorry I know this is supposed to b a serious issue for Margate and I know that because of it being Tesco they are allowed to do what they like, and with it employing 300 local people you shouldn’t have to queue for long at the checkout.

    Of course I can see that almost anything is better than what’s there now, but and it’s a big but, Arlington and the Dreamland Cinema were challenging modern buildings when they were built.

    What bugs me here is that Tesco appear not to have wasted any money rising to the challenge.

    Yes I would say the cinema, Arlington and the Turner are all ugly to me when I compare them with the Droit house, which I know to be a modern fake, and I know this is acrimonious. I however am not so crass that I can’t see that the architectural merit in the cinema, Arlington and the Turner.

    The thing Tesco contemplate however is insipid and about as interesting as a garden shed.

    Ken spot on, but probably best to let them get away with it than risk nothing happening.

    Sorry about the fragmented replies, I am using the thing acrimoniously known as my Raspberry in order to practice using a mobile phone, partly a Blackberry seemed to expansive and partly my fingers were too big.

  7. I can't see why people dislike The Arlington House Many people up and down the country live in far worse. As for Tesco, anything has to be better than what is there now. I would rather the individual shops were all occupied by different owners and Margate Ramsgate and Broadstairs had High streets full of shoppers but seeing as that is a pipe dream let us welcome in someone who is going to occupy the site and give jobs where others have failed. It is not the answer I would wish for but the best one that is on the table.

  8. It appears to be a large poor quality shed, slap bang the first thing you see as you come out of the station. "Welcome to Tesco's Margate". Not a great deal of thought appear to have gone into it.

  9. So the boarded up shops that are currently there are a better welcoming for those arriving by train MA?

    It's certainly not ideal, but no-one seems to be offering us anything better.

  10. Great, matching sheds at both ends of Margate promenade!

  11. A newwebsite has been created to comment on all councils in the uk.

    Thought you might all find it interesting.

  12. What's happening with the new road plan, so Margate seafront can be pedestrianised? The previous (ridiculous) plan that would severed the Dreamland site, I believe was was scrapped following listing of the remains of the Menagerie Cages. It could go across the old SER goods yard (alongside the main line railway embankment) and join onto the roundabout of Tivoli Industrial Estate maybe?

    Also... seeing how this whole area seems like it will be the new hub of the seafront with the Dreamland site and cinema eventually getting it's refresh and we now have to accept that Westwood will be a town in it's own right, shouldn't two these hotspots connect up with a 'healthy', direct and safe cycle/walking route?

    Arlington was originally Margate's first railway station and much of the old SER trackbed and embankments are still fairly clear up towards the Westwood industrial estates. Behind the main line at Margate the old SER yard is still un-redeveloped, so would provide access. The later built LCDR yard further on (used for parking when the Bemboms expanded rides onto Dreamland carpark) is now re-developed by housing but both embankments run alongside the development. Up to the Westwood area still remains intact though land has been sold recently but is still undeveloped. Further on, parts are now accompanied by retail units and driveway / access road and then obliterated by Westwood Cross itself, though by that point diversion is not really problematic.

    There is already a route along the A254 of course but a new direct off-road route would be good, though not to the liking of residents who live with the abandoned embankment behind their property I suspect!

  13. 20:48, I agree that a proper cycle path from Margate to Westwood Cross would be a great idea, though having walked along the route of the old railway track I don't think this would be any use beyond the Thor etc site as it's blocked by buildings there. Perhaps a better idea would be to make a cycle path where that muddy track is along side Nash Road? The only thing blocking a potential path would be Nash farm shop, though I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to divert around the back of it.

  14. "What's happening with the new road plan, so Margate seafront can be pedestrianised?"

    Reduction of traffic on the seafront - a more pedestrian friendly public realm with more crossings to connect the businesses with the sea.
    That is what was needed to regenerate Margate seafront facing the Main Sands.

    Those were the recommendations in both the CABE reports, various reports by Jacobs, the architecture practice commissioned at great expense by KCC and the same conclusion from various public consultations.

    Now we are being told we can deal with an extra 9000 vehicles a day on the seafront, including heavy good vehicles with traffic backed up to Cecil Square- a totally paralized traffic system.

    And that is without considering any traffic that may be generated by Dreamland.

    I was told that there is no longer going to be a road behind dreamland because the TDC granted permission for houses to be build where the Road would come out onto Eaton Road. The Tesco plan also doesn't allow room for a main road at the back along the railway, only a possible small connection to Dreamland, and that would mean cueing up withe the cars waiting to enter the Tesco car park

  15. At yesterday's planning committee meeting, the Planning Officer said they are proposing to imposing the replacement of the Arlington Tower windows as a condition to building the superstore.

    The planning officer also said that Freshwater legally can only replace some of the windows. 30 apartments will not have their windows changed.
    So, most windows will be changed to dark reflective glass with thick black plastic frames, while 20% of the fenestration will be the existing slim profile light gray metal windows with clear glass.

    That is going to look a real mess!

  16. The old shops in the Arlington square and on the seafront suffered for a number of reasons.

    After Arlington House was built Margate went into a decline that lasted decades.

    The arcade was designed to receive the fotfall of people who parked in the carpark who would walk through the Arcade to reach the beach Dreamland etc.

    - Dreamland Closed
    - People stopped coming to Margate beach in large numbers.
    - Freshwater blocked the connection with the carpark making the arcade a dead end.
    - The carpark was closed
    -Freshwater left the structute to rot avoiding even the basic maintenance.
    - Freshwater didn't renew the leases and accepted no new businesses.
    - Freshwater have evicted the remaining businesses

    In essence, the combination of the decline of Margaste as a visitor attraction and the behaviour of Freshwater, one of Britain's richest and most controversial landlords combined to make Arlington what it is today.

    Only now we are seeing positive change with new businesses opening in the old Town and at the bottom of the high Street and the return of visitors attracted by the Turner Contemporary

    The carpark is ideally positioned for visitors arriving in town. Park at Arlington and waly thrrough the renovated arcade of shops along to Dreamland, along the pedestrian friendly seafront to the old town or the Turner.

    Instead Freshwater are using the eyesore of their own creation - of the dereliction of the boarded up seafront and the lack of ther duty to maintain Arlington Tower as the reason why we should grant them the bonus of planning permission for an 82,000 square foot superstore without any contribution to public services other than changes to the roundabout that are needed to get HGVs into All Saints Avenue.

    In addition to that, the planning for the seafront portion of the scheme is outline only. This will give Freshwater the permission to demolish the buildings, but there will be no approved plan for new buildings and there is no investor lined up to develop that site. The result will be a derelict, boarded up demolition site on the seafront for years to come.
    Perhaps, if the property market picks up, they will use the fact that no one wanted to build a hotel and that the site is an eyesore to bash out some affordable flats and planners will agree to anything to get rid of the derelict eyesore on the seafront.

    What we really need is for the freeholder (TDC) to serve Freshwater with a repairs notice to carry out maintenance works to Arlington Tower and the existing shops. After all it won't hurt too much, they are one of the richest families in the UK.

  17. "“For years the derelict site has been a problem, a dilapidated scene familiar to residents, giving visitors a bad first impression as they leave the station.”"
    "“The boarded up derelict site is an eyesore, a blot on Margate’s seafront”."

    That is how the Kent Times described the "Arlington" site in 1960.

    The derelict site was seen as the justification to grant permission for Arlington House. We are still paying for that decision "anything to get rid of the eyesore" and Arlington will be with us for decades to come, wether we like it or not.

    The same words are now used to justify a massive superstore.

    The effect of that- a traffic jammed seafront and a shed that is more at home in an out of town industrial estate in a key town site will be felt for decades.


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