There can be few bigger eyesores in Margate than Ye Olde Town laundrette shop in King Street. I have written previously about the need to be realistic about the number of shops that Margate can sustain. After the business failed, as the photographs show the property became dilapidated. I heard one story that the state of the property was such that the washing machines with all their vibrating had eventually fallen through the floor.
King Street is a busy one way cut through with narrow pavements and double yellow lines on both sides so retail premises are going to struggle to be viable. Round the corner by the old Town Hall parking often covers pavements. Sadly Kent County Council did not recognise this and applied to Thanet Council for planning permission for a shop and two miniscule flats.
KCC’s planning application to create two extremely cramped flats in Margate's Old Town was refused by the Thanet District Council Planning Committee on 15th July following a heated debate.
Firstly, under public speaking rules, local resident and businesswoman Lynn Jackson complained about the design of the flats and among other concerns informed the committee that both of the proposed units were under 40 square meters in floor size. (The average new UK flat is 76 square metres.)
Speaking as a Margate Central ward councillor which covers King Street Iris Johnston then also attacked KCC developers for the poor design and warned they were in danger of creating a hovel for the future. She then suggested the committee look at a neighbouring property to see how renovation could be carried out in a far more sympathetic manner, in keeping with Margate Old Town.
After listening to the debate, planning committee member Cllr. Clive Hart became incensed by what he had heard and he too berated KCC for the appallingly cramped design. He said that it was bad enough when cowboy builders came up with such plans but for a local authority to do so was simply unforgivable.
Matters became heated and Cllr. Hart tried to refer to an article from the Guardian newspaper (worth reading) that he had recently copied to every member of Thanet District Council but Planning Chair Ken Gregory tried to cut him short and to curtail debate.
The passionate debate made a big impression on Thanet Planning committee who then overturned the TDC officers recommendation to approve the application by voting 10 to 4 for refusal. A good result in the end. However, it is disappointiung that KCC tried to build a flat as small as 34 square metres and that Thanet planning officers did not suggest to them this was inappropriate. How small a flat would they recommend?
This road has difficult access, but as can be seen the property is in a far better state from the rear. I hope KCC will come forward with proposals for 2 larger flats or one townhouse which would incorporate the proposed shop. This would be the best way to redevelop the Old Town of Margate and clean up this eyesore as soon as possible.