Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group online

A plan for Arlington

with 25 comments

Article and pictures copyright Sam Causer Studio 2011.

The Vision

Russell Diplock’s 1960s vision for Arlington Square united beach, cars, shopping and living to create a civic space with pride and optimism. There were some negative aspects which need to be put right and the space has been treated badly.


Arlington Square fenced off, shops closed down.
Margate visitors can’t access the car park.
No way in to Arlington House from the square.
Result: Dereliction.

Step 1:
Clean and refurbish Arlington House

Step 2:
Re-use, adapt and clean existing concrete structures.
Retain roof-top carpark for Arlington House residents and Margate visitors.
New, locally sized supermarket with entrance off Arlington Square.
New lifts and stairs to rooftop parking from Arlington Square.

Step 3:
Provide direct access from carpark to beach via public retail space.
Refurbish and extend retail units for mix of shops and cafes.
Create garden terrace for Arlington House residents over parade of shops.
Install Canopies for rain and sun protection.
Result: Local economy, active townscape, visitor amenities, social cohesion.


It has been done before

Brunswick Centre , London 2005

Brunswick Centre, London today

This article is available as a PDF.

The outline planning application F/TH/10/1061 to erect a 7500m2 superstore and external alterations to Arlington House will come before the Planning Committee on the 15th of June 2011 at 7pm. The outline plans are viewable at  enter the reference F/TH/10/1061 .


Written by Louise

June 7, 2011 at 13:50

25 Responses

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  1. This might’ve worked in London, but who’d want to sit around in the shadow of a tower block with very poor views when there’s a seafront & harbour around the corner?

    Peter Checksfield

    June 8, 2011 at 20:07

    • So agree with those who point out that the shops are never going to be viable. Sorry, but this isn’t London. Shops are closing all over the country and so any development based on retail is really tough. And those who protest that oh no it’s a Tesco – how snobbish are you? Would you ind so much if it were Waitrose? People have to shop for food and we can’t all afford the farmers’ markets and chi chi boutiques.


      June 19, 2013 at 08:55

  2. A sensible and practical vision for Arlington Square. The cafés and vintage shops in the Old Town show that Margate has more to offer as a destination than just the beach. Seaside towns can create their own off-beach café culture as an alternative to the more obviously touristy promenade – Brighton’s best cafés are in the North Laine area, some way from the sea front. As for the view… I’m a fan of Arlington House so I’d be just as happy to look at it as at the sea!


    June 10, 2011 at 08:21

  3. Looks solely reliant on the retail outlets to me. Can’t see this working as the demand is just not there.


    June 10, 2011 at 09:02

  4. Exactly Andrew. Even 20-odd years ago when we had a thriving high street & a busy Dreamland half of those shops were empty.

    Peter Checksfield

    June 10, 2011 at 09:08

  5. For people coming into Margate by train, this is one of the first areas they see. It has to be clean and lively to create a good impression. There has to be a bit more in there to encourage this. Peter is right to a degree, but if there is something there – other than a supermarket, then it could work. We also need to sort out traffic. There are only 2 ways to Westbrook, Westgate and beyond from Margate. The seafront or Victoria Rd / Coffin House Corner. If we reduce traffic in one, the other won’t be able to cope.


    June 10, 2011 at 09:18

  6. There was of course some talk of building a road around the back of Dreamland which would’ve been ideal, but then Mr Godden got permission to build his “luxury homes” instead…

    Does anyone know what’s happening with that closed off bit of road opposite Arlington House? Is the main road being widened?

    Peter Checksfield

    June 10, 2011 at 09:25

    • I have heard talk, they are knocking down the existing roundabout, as it will cause too many problems with long vehicles. If I had my way the whole sea front would be for pedestrians and would have a park and ride further up the road.
      Travel Lodge should acquire the land around Arlington House and open a reasonable priced Hotel, this would bring back tourism.
      All TDC seem to be interested in is cafe’s Restaurants and Supermarkets, do they honestly think all we do is eat all day and night?
      It is disgraceful what has been done to Thanet over the past 20 years I am ashamed of the neglect and greed of so many.

      Carole Russell

      July 6, 2011 at 17:18

  7. Here’s my alternate plan:

    Peter Checksfield

    June 10, 2011 at 09:34

  8. Peter,
    The street opposite Arlington, All Saints Avenue, is actually being narrowed to make way for a block of flats. Building works have already stated.
    That is one of the reasons why they are finding it difficult to get lories in and out of the proposed superstore.
    Highways have written that the problem will be that when a long vehicle exits the site, it will block the traffic in both directions That is also why we as taxpayers will have to pay for having the roundabout re-designed, the roads around the clock tower changed (traffic lights installed) and a box junction at Cecil Square/Hawley Street.

    Expect a big tax bill, but most of all, expect delays if you intend to drive along Margate seafront, getting a bus that goes by Cecil Square…


    June 14, 2011 at 12:25

  9. The building pictured in your plan, was probably the old casino burned down in the 60s.

    For some years the site remained an eyesore on the approach to Margate, in front of the station.
    TDC and developers forced through the new Arlington House on the grounds that it was the only viable plan to develop the derelict site. A familiar Story.

    As the Freshwater plans have no takers to develop the marine Drive part of the scheme – that is the outline planning for a hotel that nobody wants to build, it is quite logical to assume that the site will remain a derelict boarded up eyesore for the foreseeable future.


    June 14, 2011 at 17:49

  10. Even assuming that they could be a success (something I have strong doubts about), do we actually have any takers for the proposed small shops, cafes, etc? Even the couple of last remaining businesses (the bong shop & the joke shop) have set up new shops in the high street, so I can’t see them wanting to return.

    People have accused me of being pro-Tesco: I’m not, I’m just pro getting the place sorted out! If someone other than Tesco comes up with what I believe to be a viable plan, then I’ll perhaps support them instead. When I first moved to Westbrrok in 1999 we had a post office, a bakers, a fishmongers & a greengrocers (I believe the bank had only recently closed), so I most certainly wouldn’t have supported Tesco then. Now they’re all gone, & most of the remaining businesses there (several takeaways & hairdressers, an art shop, a photography studio, a mobility vehicle shop, a motorbike shop & a computer shop among them) are unlikely to be affected much by Tesco & may actually benefit from it.

    As for nobody wanting a hotel, there’s also plans for one in Hartsdown Park (which I DO oppose), so there must be some demand for them, & anyway how many half-decent hotels remain in the Margate & Cliftonville area? When ever celebrities play at Margate Winter Gardens they usually stay in Ramsgate because the Margate hotels aren’t any good…

    Peter Checksfield

    June 14, 2011 at 19:22

  11. How about creating a leisure complex for the community – Thanet could use an icerink or water slides complex(like Tides in Deal) or something. Accessible by bus and train. Something else to do in the area.


    June 17, 2011 at 10:04

  12. That won’t really help the shoppers in Westbrook…

    Would love to see something similar to that done in The Lido area though.

    Peter Checksfield

    June 17, 2011 at 11:58

  13. What worries me is the what will happen if this is not modernised and cleaned up, we have already been through so much in this area over the past 25 years, ASB, the Hotel set on fire just up the road. This part of Margate became a dumping off ground for everyone from London. We were sent all boat people, Asylum seekers and immigrants, with no one able to control the situation, this caused fires, fights, rapes and even murder, on top of all this, we have had a few suicides from the top floor of Arlington Flats. I think 4 over the past 25 years.
    We certainly do not want a Tesco in this area or any other areas in Thanet, we have too many now.
    Anonymous suggested an Ice rink , good idea but not really enough space, but Peter has made a good suggestion for the Lido complex. Charlie! if you are happy just to sit and look at Arlington House I really feel sorry for you, get out more, there really is a big world out there. I think Arlington house is an eyesore worst bit of architecture in Thanet. As far as half the shops being closed along Margate sea front even 20 years ago, this was after most of our afluent residents moved out, Cliftonville was a beautifil shopping centre, lovely Hotels and so, so clean. Look what it is like now, people have lost all respect for their surroundings and until they all clean up their act, Thanet will continue to fall into further decline.
    As we are so short on accomodation for people in Margate, why not use this area and build some 1 bed flats, unless you build a cover over this area and an end to it, it will be a wind tunnel for any new ideas.

    Carole Russell

    June 18, 2011 at 16:26

  14. I have read all the comments, i like most do not want a Tesco, sadly it seems thats all we will have. What ever will be built there would not improve any of the shops in Westbrook, as people will only travel to the store – not a walk about. It would however, make the entrance to the town look better regardless. As for the shops that have been there for years, they like most in such areas have not improved their business. The joke shop was built like that around 20 yrs ago the gift shop owners have struggled for years, Truth be told unless you up grade, things slowly fall into decline. Just look at the rides on the beach, old and have been there for over 30 yrs. Margate looks tired, it needs a new face lift. Maybe Tesco will do it, if they are there perhaps other people will invest. Just look at Westwood Cross, it is always packed, and all there is there are Clothes shops. Maybe Margate could start to offer Modern Furniture & Gifts, as i am fed up with the only shop being Argos. or should i say Argoose.
    The Beach is our greatest assit, lets come up with ideas for use all year. Lets update the arcades and come away just from slot machines, forget the idea of an Old Dreamland, i went to the steam Fare, and what a load of rubbish that was – how could some of those rides be classed as safe???????????
    I would love to good back to the old days for its feel and ambiance, but, i want modern rides, and it can be done on the space there. Maybe we should talk to Godden and aske what he wants to do honestly, and work around that. As so far all that is happening is NOTHING.


    July 6, 2011 at 14:26

  15. From Isle of Thanet Gazette Facebook page:

    Arlington Tesco latest: The Secretary of State is not calling in the decision to allow the store so Thanet Council’s decision stands. The supermarket can be built.

    Peter Checksfield

    July 8, 2011 at 08:40

  16. Who is Margate catering for? Daytrippers. What do they come to Margate for? Sea, sand, sun and entertainment. The first three provide themselves. As for the entertainment, we need more space. A few suggestions:

    1. Arlington House
    People stepping out of Margate Station want to see the sea. So the Arlington eyesore should be replaced by lawns, flowers and shrubs.
    If that doesn’t find favour, it could be replaced by a BT Tower-type building, containing shops and a revolving restaurant at the top where diners can gawp at bird’s-eye views of France and Clacton.

    2. Sea front
    Pedestrianize and install a tramway. Also stock the area with flowerbeds and potted palms, plus nautical ‘furniture’, as per Brighton.

    3. Sea front buildings between Clock Tower and Dreamland Cinema
    These have long been on the list of what makes Margate a 3rd rate resort. Replace with:
    (a) A shipwreck! Countless wrecks from over the centuries are waiting patiently in the Goodwin Sands graveyard. Let’s raise and restore one, a la The Mary Rose. Of course, like the Turner shed the cost would be colossal but, unlike the shed, the attraction to tourists would be colossal too.
    (b) An aquarium/waterworld, as per the one on London’s South Bank.
    (c) Cafes, gift shops, arts & crafts shops and no Tescos.
    (d) Entrance to Dreamland amusement park.

    4. Dreamland Cinema
    This should be restored to its one-screen magnificence of yesteryear when it was Britain’s biggest cinema outside London’s West End. Besides screening blockbusters, it could provide ‘The Margate Experience’. This would consist of film footage celebrating Thanet’s most memorable moments: the Roman Invasion; smugglers risking life and limb in stormy seas; Victorian ladies enjoying a healthy dip from bathing machines; World War II dogfights over Manston; Sixties mods & rockers having fun on the beach. These would be presented via strapped-to-your-seat, state-of-the-art hologram technology, giving audiences the sights, sounds and smells of actually being there.

    5. Pier
    As the Council found the money so easily to pay for the Turner shed, they should get another lot for a new pier. Then The Queen of Thanet II can ferry all the daytrippers back to London!

    John Repsch

    July 8, 2011 at 23:23

    • Good ideas, as for the Pier Nobles wanted to buil one where the old sundeck was, only the council said No, Dreamland Cinema i believe is owned by Godden, i might be wrong, but he has a completly different agenda than the Town. We did have a tram years ago, and even a train ride along the front, they moved because they did not make enough money, the same happened at the seafront.
      It can only work if people begin to develop about the same time, then it could become an all yr long town, if not you need lots of money to survive the winter.
      The grotto was built around the time of the reformation henry vIII, this is obvious as the set-out is in favor of a Catholic Church, with the altar facing east etc. also the Caves both unusual crowd drawers and close together, like you stated if other items are included then the Town could quickly improve.
      The days are gone when kiss me quick was enough, now we need to update ourselves. One of the problems we have are Little Brown Envelopes being passed to corrupt council members, which will never change unless the goverment can have access to their banks and families accounts.
      I know for a fact this happened at the turner center and other projects. Thats why strange useless things happen – corruption.


      July 9, 2011 at 06:03

  17. Awesome pictures here. This will certainly work.


    January 4, 2013 at 05:15

  18. This is an excellent plan, please don’t let a giant tesco be built there! 😦

    Miren Patel

    March 5, 2013 at 19:47

  19. I like the image of step 3 of the plan of Arlington!!, i think it’s excellent idea hope the plan goes ahead and turns out that way!!!

    Alexander Tebbiche

    August 30, 2014 at 14:31

  20. Either the plan of a great Tesco superstore or a New load of mixed modern shops and cafes are as brilliant as each other!, as long as one of the plans goes ahead!!

    Alexander Tebbiche

    August 30, 2014 at 14:54

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