Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group online

Thanet Press Union Crescent, Margate

with 7 comments

A planning application has been submitted to demolish the historic Thanet Press buildings on Union Crescent, Margate amd to erect a block of 72 flats and 4 houses.

Deadline for comments: 16 May 2012
Plans are available to view and comment on at  www.ukplanning.com/thanet
 Search for application ref: 12/0252

Site address: THANET PRESS, UNION CRESCENT, MARGATE, CT9 1NS

Application Ref: F/TH/12/0252
You can also write to the Planning Officer: Ms Cheryl Macer directly.
Email: cheryl.macer@thanet.gov.uk
Tel: 01843 577138

Union Crescent with the Grade II listed Georgian terrace on the right and the Thanet Press buildings on the left

SITE CONTEXT
The site is within a Conservation Area and surrounded on all sides by Grade II Listed Buildings. To the North the site lines Union Crescent which leads West from Cecil Square, Margates first Georgian Square. Directly opposite  the Thanet Press site there are two historic churches and no. 10 grade II Listed Georgian terrace houses arranged in a crescent. At the Cecil Square end is the grade II Listed Post office building.
To the East, the plot is lined with the backs of a series of of Grade II Listed Buildings facing Hawly Street, Margate’s othe Georgian Square.
To the South, the site faces Prince’s Street. All the other buildings on Prince’s Street are Grade II Listed. They include the rear of a number of Georgian houses the Weslian Chappel and the Theatre Royal.
The Thanet Press site consists of a number of interesting Victorian commercial buildings including the original Thanet press (English Heritage Thanet Press advice report) and a furniture factory for the first “Bobby’s department store in the Northdown Road High Street. Both these businesses were reflective of the economic development of Margate in the nineteenth century and their co-location forms a light industrial site representing the entrepreneurial spirit of the age.
Any changes to the Thanet Press site must be carefully planned in order to preserve or enhance the appearance of the Conservation Area and the setting of the Listed buildings. The proposal destroys the concept of “street” in two key locations in the Georgian new town – Union Crescent and Prince’s street.
Union Crescent and the form of the buildings opposite is a distinctive urban form that defines the street-scape.
The proposed scheme disrupts the conservation area by completely ignoring the traditional urban layout of streets fronted with buildings  and treats the site as a housing estate with tall blocks of flats placed at random angles.
This design approach has proved to be problematic as the communal green spaces have no ownership, and is a totally unacceptable approach in a conservation Area. “Permeability” seems to be a priority of the proposal, but this would further reduce any sense of ownership of the open spaces and and privacy of the dwellings.
This proposal adversely affects the setting of the Grade II Listed buildings in Union Crescent, Hawley Square, Hawley Street, Cecil Square (the first Georgian Square in Margate) and Addington Square; including the Theatre Royal, Post Office, and 2 churches. The proposal would also destroy the sequential historic character of development in Union Crescent, which currently consists of Georgian townhouses, Victorian religious buildings, Victorian and edwardian commercial buildings and the early 20C Post Office – these group to form a valuable narrative in the social development of this part of town. The proposal would eradicate a whole chapter in Margate’s history.- The application drawings do not show the relationship of the proposal in its context. A model, perspectives and other visual aids are needed. Simple elevations  do not show how the streetscape will be effected or the effect on the views of Listed buildings.
EXISTING BUILDINGS
 – The existing Thanet Press buildings are part of the character of the Conservation Area and should be retained.
– Whilst not listed as of national importance, these buildings constitute a locally important undesignated heritage asset.
– The buildings offer large open plan spaces, sizeable street frontage, architectural interest, and small-sale industrial interiors which would be suitable for art studios, workshops, mixed-use live-work or education. Even if the site were to be used for accommodation, a solution should be sought that can accommodate dwellings, retaining existing structure and the character of the Conservation Area.PROPOSED BUILDINGS
– The proposed housing estate has no relationship to the street or the buildings of the Conservation Area.
It is as if the designers, Arch-FX, have copied and pasted a scheme from another location. The whole scheme is anonymous and has no distinctive character.  The materials are inappropriate and the design is poor. The proposal fails to preserve or enhance the Conservation Area and is therefore contrary to national planning policy. The proposal represents the lowest possible aspiration for the site and are consequently not in-keeping with the high quality of architecture abutting the site on all sides.- The proposed 6 story buildings are over double the height of the existing structures, out of scale with the surrounding environment, contravene the Councils no-flat policy and would result in overlooking into private dwellings and places of worship and so degrade the existing building stock. This is overdevelopment- The proposed buildings would negatively affect significant views within the conservation area, blocking the 200 year old views, such as those from from Listed buildings in Hawley Square or from Pump Lane with unsightly, inappropriate modern blocks of no architectural merit.-  The scale of the site and its sensitive location in the Conservation area may benefit from  the expertise of a qualified architect, perhaps one with a track record of successful developments in sensitive heritage areas.

– The developer may wish to undertake an assessment of views in which their site forms a significant part by following the guidance in “Seeing History in the View” published by English Heritage. This recommends picking a particular view and assessing it’s importance, the heritage assets contained in it, and the impact of a particular site.

They may also wish to consult English Heritage Guidance on the Settings of  Heritage Assets.

Image taken from the design and access statement showing the proposed design design compared to the existing buildings opposite.

CHANGE OF USE/EMPLOYMENT
The site was a great asset for the town because it provided much needed employment. Thanet Press, until last year, employed over 70 people and created secondary employment for many more in the area. Employment use should be retained.
Studios, workshops, education could be a more sustainable use.While Margate has an over supply of housing- there are 870 empty dwellings in Margate old town and Cliftonville West.
Studio Margate and Thanet in general, lacks jobs. (add our record-braking unemployment stats …)There are a number of potential organisations that would like to move to Margate that would bring employment. We are informed that Canterbury Christ Church University and Acme Studios are among those organisations looking for sites in Margate.Parking and traffic as a result of residential use will be problematic.According to the application, residents will be using public transport, so parking is not provided. A condition should be placed that the new houses will not be eligible for Resident Parking Permits, to avoid the developers passing the impact of parking onto the surrounded streets. Union Crescent is a busy road and a main bus route. The road has serious bottle-necks, obliging cars to stop and give way to oncoming vehicles. The parking arrangements proposed on Addington Crescent will reduce the width of the already narrow road. This could cause major problems to the Cecil Square junction.Creating more dwellings without creating jobs will not reduce the housing waiting list, but revert Margate into a dumping ground for the unemployed pushed out by London Boroughs, putting even more strain on our overstretched services.

The Government benefits policy with recent news stories regarding the borough of Newham’s plans to send unemployed poor to poorer areas in the country where there are no jobs is a major concern.

Change of use would irrevocably damage the character of this part of the conservation area where mixed commercial and residential use has always form part of the townscape

This application for change of use follows an unfortunate recent decision to allow residential development on the neighbouring Grade II Post Office site, which was partly based on mis-information that the Post Office site had been marketed and that no commercial interest had been forthcoming. There was, in fact, evidence to the contrary.

The loss of commercial space from the Conservation Area in this manner both hinders the economic viability of the conservation area increasing the degradation of the historic environment and sets a worrying precident for future development of large sites in the town centre.

The proposal is short-sighted in the context of the current regional growth fund business-creation drive.

Summary:
Lack of protection and enhancement of existing buildings in a Conservation Area contravenes national planning policy
Over development
Poor architectural quality
Adverse effect on Listed buildings
Adverse effect on street-scape
Loss of original street plan
Loss of undesignated heritage asset
Unacceptable change of use

As a point of interest:

CAAG members believe that up-to-date Conservation Area Appraisals would offer comprehensive guidelines on acceptable development in Margate Town Centre and Margate Seafront, saving considerable time, money and effort for developers, Council Officers and members of the public in conceiving, proposing, reviewing and challenging applications.

Proposed Union Crescent elevation.

View of the site from Addington Street with the Grade II listed Theatre Royal, (Britain’s s second oldest provincial working theatre) entrance on the left. The proposed blocks of flats will fill the sky in this photo and provide a totally inappropriate backdrop to the Georgian context.

site boundary outlined in red

proposed location plan showing the layout of streets lined with buildings replaced with blocks of flats

Traditional street layout replaced with blocks of flats in green space. A failed model.

 Le Corbusier planned to demolish the historic centre of Paris with streets lined with buildings and replace them with modern blocks of flats in green space. The vision was not realised and the old buildings of Paris have survived.
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Written by Louise

May 15, 2012 at 11:28

7 Responses

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  1. I agree that the proposed block of 72 flats and 4 houses on the site of the old Thanet Press buildings on Union Crescent would be a serious blot on the architectural landscape of Margate. They are of poor architectural quality and would have an adverse effect on the beautiful Listed buildings

    christine tobin

    May 16, 2012 at 11:11

  2. Please dont knock it down!

    Thanet citizen

    Belinda

    May 16, 2012 at 15:10

  3. I can’t believe that this is being proposed!

    Lyndy

    May 16, 2012 at 17:49

  4. Awful destruction of an already struggling town. Shame.

    GG

    May 17, 2012 at 09:19

  5. If this development were to go ahead, it would be a big gain to a few greedy local individuals who hide behind off-shore businesses to avoid tax, at great expense to the rest of the town. It would appear that the agent in charge of selling or leasing the site is owned by the same people proposing this awful development. As entrepreneurs, artist studio providers etc were not given the opportunity to see the site, or in some cases, were told they would have to use the estate agent’s own developer (themselves) I would be surprised if the Irish company that owns the site was ever passed any offers or told of any alternative interest. On the bright side, if the development is refused, the site offers a great opportunity for Margate to live up to it’s commitment to arts regeneration. The town is desperately short of employment, it is also short of studio spaces and workshops.

    Anonymous

    May 19, 2012 at 18:44

  6. stop knocking down fabulous building and replacing them with cheep shite l

    Anonymous

    June 23, 2013 at 08:41

  7. “Traditional street layout replaced with blocks of flats in green space. A failed model.” In what sense is this relevant? And it is not a ‘failed model’.

    Anonymous

    September 10, 2016 at 21:23


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