With the entire country deafened by the sound of credit being crunched, I wasn't entirely surprised to hear from a reliable source today that Paigle Properties, who've been tarting up Margate's Royal Sea Bathing Hospital for the past couple of years, have, er, gone down the gurgler. Although the news should strictly be filed under 'unconfirmed rumour', I have to say I heard it from somebody who really should be in the know.
It won't come as a surprise to Margatonians, who've reported little activity on the site for the past few months, although this was put down by some optimists to Paigle's pending planning application for yet more luxury apartments on the site. A while back the local papers told how the developer had locked its builders out in an apparent dispute. Last year Paigle's driving force, Jane Debliek, told the Times the work would cost £60m, and that everyone had said: ‘You’re mad, you’ll go bankrupt!’ I think the larger cry around Margate had always been: 'You're mad, it should be the Turner Centre!', but there you go.
The tide of Thanet developers in difficulties seems to be rising rapidly, and the fear must be that the island will be blighted for yet another decade by half-finished developments, much like parts of Spain and Turkey. It's a particular shame if the news about the Sea Bathing is true. To my way of thinking, Paigle had done a lovely job, and did at least appear to have some sympathy and passion for the place. What happens now, I wonder, to the Cliftonville Lido which Paigle also bought to redevelop, in line with our council's plans to 'book end' Margate front with swish new properties?
Click here to read interview with Jane Debliek in the Times
Click here to see Bignews Margate's recent tour of the site
Update: This story has now been confirmed. Paigle called in the receivers on 15 July. Click here to read more.