Saturday, February 03, 2007

Regeneration is it best left to the private sector?

public sector no decision

Last year we were informed by the council, that with the aid of money from Seeda (South East of England Development Agency), they would purchase the Marks and Spencer's building in Cecil Square. I understand the reasoning behind this, was the building was of such significance, to Margate that the public sector could not risk, this asset being left in private hands and quick action was called for.

Some time around June or July noises came from the regeneration department of Thanet District Council (just one of those elements seeking to revive Margate’s fortunes) that the big idea for this building was a to create retail space workshop units and residential space (something for everyone effectively) also mention was made of access to the old town.

This is a large project a small fortune has been spent on regeneration of this property and it seems somewhat astounding that given, the sense of urgency & purpose with which they purchased the M&S building, they have yet to reach a firm conclusion.

Just as a contrast, it is interesting to note that the old a Munro Cobb building in Northdown Road, which in its own way is similarly significant to Cliftonville as M&S, was to Margate is currently being converted into as I understand 17 Flats whilst retaining street level retail space.

commercial development work in progress

Its pleasing to be told by the council that architects are working on plans and that some time in future there will be the usual public consultation nonsense etc however the Regeneration Dept cannot be to specific.

Well if this was my money and since I pay tax some of it is, I think that almost a year into this project we ought by now have firm proposals.

A year ago Thanet and Margate could not wait around for a commercial developer to provide a future for this site but is the public sector any better I don’t think so.

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