The Oval Lawns


The GRASS community group is at the initial concept design stage of our plan to create enhanced public amenity spaces and gardens at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns. Our hope is that with input from local people the green space around the bandstand will be sympathetically improved by gardeners, horticultural experts and ecologists.

What is happening to The Oval Lawns?

Our concept is for the soft landscaping that surrounds the bandstand amphitheatre to be an enhanced area of green public amenity space that is colourful, exciting, beautiful and full of interest throughout the year.

Featuring a community space, colourful wildflower meadows, lawns, a mini wetland, a mini-forest, and paths lined with wildlife-friendly plants, The Oval Bandstand & Lawns will be a colourful community park bringing social and economic benefits to a neglected part of the town.

The project is being coordinated by GRASS Cliftonville CIC, and a range of local community groups and stakeholders.

We want to lead the way across Thanet so that what we do at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns can point the direction for a new way to transform the coastline for people and for nature.

A Short History of the Area

The Oval Bandstand is located to the east of Margate in Cliftonville, the former tourist accommodation heartland of the town.

For most of the 20th Century, the area was a thriving community and one of East Kent’s main tourist resorts, with theatres, a music hall and cinemas, all within living memory.

It was such a popular area that a tram service operated between Margate and Cliftonville until 1937!  However, in the later 20th Century, the prosperous communities disappeared along with the decline of Margate’s tourism industry, and the whole district became a neglected part of the town.

Following the decline of the tourism industry, many heritage assets along the coast, including The Oval Bandstand & Lawns, fell into a state of disrepair and neglect.

More recently, during the late 2000’s and 2010s, there has been a resurgence of new businesses and creative communities in the area, with incrimental improvements at beautiful Walpole Bay beaches, and the main shopping, commercial and cultural areas of Cliftonville.

What’s it Like There Now?

The Oval Bandstand & Lawns is highly visible and very accessible to visitors, with large numbers of people walking by it, and walking through it, throughout the day. During the summer season the Viking Coastal Trail, a popular walk between Broadstairs and Margate, ensures the Queen’s Promenade attracts thousands of visitors every week.

But that’s mostly what The Oval was until GRASS became the custodians; a walk-through and walk-by, with not much function or use, and certainly little opportunity for people to engage with the ecology of their surroundings.

Before GRASS took on The Oval it felt neglected, ignored and un-loved.

The site was rundown and unkempt: not what people want to see in this beautiful location.  However, it is a great refuge for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife, so we want to keep the best of this, but also to make it a ‘go-to’ place, rather than a ‘go-through’ place.

The Oval – July 2021

The Plans for Improved Green Spaces at The Oval

The Oval Bandstand & Lawns will be an inspirational example of a coastal eco-park, combining nature and wildlife with artworks, social and activity spaces, and a beautiful year-round environment for local people and visitors, using wildflowers and native plants throughout in exciting ways.  The project will transform this once neglected site into a thriving hub at the heart of the Cliftonville community.

Featuring a new pavilion with cafe and community room, a refreshments kiosk, toilet facilities, colourful wildflower meadows, lawns, a mini wetland, a mini forest, multi-species hedgerows, and paths lined with wildlife-friendly plants, The Oval Bandstand & Lawns will be a vibrant space bringing social and economic benefits to a neglected part of Thanet.

Through the development of a strong and creative design, the use of modern materials, and the inclusion of plenty of spaces for people to use, The Oval will show a new way forward in bringing people and nature together in the town.

It’s not all about nature and wildlife: The Oval will do so many other things.  It will be a beautiful and relaxing space in the coastal urban environment, with all the health and well-being benefits that this brings to local people.  At the bandstand there will be a wealth of entertainment throughout the year, and the lawns will continue to host community events such as Summer Sunday’s concerts, Pride and the Cliftonville Games.

In addition, The Oval Bandstand & Lawns will be a valuable training and learning resource with a strong legacy, enabling young people from many backgrounds to interact with their environment and develop new skills whilst making and maintaining a new garden.

The Oval Wellness Garden

Please click HERE to view our plans for a wellness garden and community gym.

Wildflower Meadows

Wildflower meadows will form the ‘glue’ that holds the whole ecology of the site together.

Our meadows of native wildflowers will be flower-rich, colourful and will bloom for months on end, hugely attractive to people, and a fantastic urban resource for pollinating insects.

Using wildflowers in creative combinations, the wildflower gardens will be beautiful throughout the year, and a real inspiration for what is possible using native plants alone.

Mini Wetland / Rain Garden

The Oval hopes to take rainwater that runs off from the surrounding pavement, as well as the proposed pavilion, cafe kiosk, and garden structures, and feed it through a winding runnel into the rain gardenmini wetland.

Community Gardening Area

Trees and Mini Forests

We hope to incorporate additional bird-friendly trees or shrubs to provide year-round interest, placed at intervals along the boundary of the site, along paths, at entrances, and in small groves within the lawned areas. Trees could also be used to create shelter and enclosure at several locations around the site.

Flowering Lawns and Pavements

We will use all the hard surfaces and paved areas as opportunities for introducing wildflowers and more nature.  The edges of the paved areas, and the gaps between flags, will contain wildflowers and plants so it will become a new destination in its own right, a ‘go-to’ place for the people of Margate, with its vibrant café, community meeting space, entertainment venue, and outdoor meeting spaces amongst the flowers.

Also, short grass flowering lawn areas will be great for relaxing and sunbathing and will be full of jewel-like wildflowers and spring bulbs for earlier in the year.

Informal Seating Areas

Gabions and railway sleepers will be used to create short walls, so that the site can be terraced to create useable areas and spaces.  These will be used to create sitting ledges: we will create as many opportunities as possible for people to be able to meet-up outside and use the site informally.  The gabions will be planted with native wildflowers (plants that occur naturally in walls, cliffs and stony places).