I know this has already been covered on the excellent Margate Architecture blog, but I'm going to whip it out again and give it a good airing!
By now we all know that Tesco, who famously grab one of your sovs for every eight spent in this country, have their eyes on Arlington Square, up on the, er, even more deserted side of the Arsonists' Playground. On Monday night the Arlington House Residents' Association held a packed meeting to discuss Tesco's plans. Here's their press release:
The planning application from Freshwater (the site's owners) is expected in July. It will be to build a Tesco store, as big as the one in Manston. It's not a small store!
WHAT WILL THIS DO TO TOURISM IN MARGATE?
An overwhelming number of residents at the meeting last night wanted to know where all the traffic will go. The seafront of Margate will be just another M25 - as one person said - permanently impassable, so neighbouring residential areas will see a lot more cars along their streets in an effort to avoid the seafront.
By the way, some people seem to think that Tesco will pay to renovate the exterior of Arlington House. NO. Tesco will lease from Freshwater, who are the developers. Freshwater are responsible for the exterior of Arlington House and they lease the Arlington site from Thanet District Council on a 199 year lease for a peppercorn rent.
Arlington House looks as dreadful as it does because Freshwater has done nothing to the exterior in thirty or so years. Now Freshwater is basically asking the residents to pay for exterior and interior works, while Freshwater will make a mint from the long term lease it is giving to Tesco. Freshwater and Tesco are multinational, global conglomerates.
There's the very real possibility that visitors would arrive at the station, or drive to the Tesco parking lot, walk to the beach, visit Tesco for food and toilets, leave their debris on the beach and return home via the station - never to venture along the sea front towards Margate High Street or Old Town, or Cliftonville.
This will not unify Margate, but will exacerbate the geographical divisions that already exist. Connected? Good for tourism or business? We think not.
Please contact Residents Association chair Ron Greene on 07754 588193 for further comments, interview or photo opportunities.
Personally I think our beloved council will wet their proverbials at the thought of yet another Tesco superbarn on the island, so the chances of planning permission being rejected are slim, verging on the non-existent. For more information on how the Tesco monolith distorts local economies (ever wondered why you pay 6p a litre more for petrol in Thanet as opposed to Canterbury?), take a look at the Tescopoly website (tagline - Every Little Hurts!)
And just to put the record straight, I'm not one of those numbnuts who think Arlington House is a blot on the landscape. With a little TLC (rather than TDC) it could be a splendid icon for Margate. After all, 60s architecture is the new Victorian!