Margate Waterfront Regeneration
"It will never happen here"! How often have you heard the doomsayers of Thanet say that?
They said that the Thanet Way would never be dualled. We won that battle. They said that we would never have a modern hospital in Margate. The QEQM is there to prove them wrong. Then the political plankton focussed their attention on the Turner Centre. We now have to prove them wrong again.
The Turner Centre has had its troubles, to be sure. Even its most ardent supporters expressed some doubts when the original iconic design was unveiled. That that scheme proved impractical and unaffordable came as no surprise to many and gave to the critics the, to them, welcome chance to decry the "wasted millions" and to talk the whole concept down. In fact the "wasted millions have led to a significant investment in the Old Town of Margate, an investment which is already reaching out into Cliftonville West and which will gather pace as further progress is made.
I hope and believe that the supporters of the Margate Waterfront Regeneration attending the Winter Gardens will have taken great heart from last week's Turner presentation. It was a master class in architecture and it demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the project is both viable and achievable. We now need, and Thanet District and Kent County Councils surely have, the courage and the determination to raise the wind and to see it through.
At the Winter Gardens the appointed architect, David Chipperfield, took his audience step by step through the design process. I am no expert in these matters but even I could see how the painstaking evaluation of the precise geography and geology of the rendezvous site and its relationship to the town and to the sun had driven the preparation for a building intended to serve not simply or even the desires of a handful of visiting glitterati but, first and foremost, of the future generations of the people of Thanet.
The final designs and the indications of building materials and finish will not be with us until the autumn and, as always, they will no doubt have their critics. We are, though, being offered a venue that is to be simultaneously a gathering place, viewpoint, exhibition centre, lecture theatre, art gallery, function room, workshop and museum. It is a truly exciting prospect.
Let us be clear: the Turner Centre is not, and has never been, a stand-alone project. It will, when completed, be the cornerstone of an a series of potential investments in infrastructure that can encompass the whole of the lower promenade, embracing a rejuvenated Winter Gardens, from the Droit House through to the Lido and beyond. Take that in tandem with other schemes under consideration for the Marine Parade, Dreamland and the station and we have the chance to transform the glories of a faded yesterday into a vibrant and successful tomorrow. If the doomsayers have their way the town will die. We cannot afford to let them have their way.