During the summer of 2022, we finally embarked on an ambitious project to revitalise The Oval Bandstand & Lawns in Margate, thanks to the Early Development Funding from the Margate Town Deal. Our journey was filled with excitement and hope as we diligently interviewed potential architects who could collaborate with us on this transformative endeavour. Finally, in September 2022, we appointed Bell Phillips Architects, renowned for their expertise in designing captivating pavilions and structures for public spaces. Little did we know that our project would face a major setback due to a delay in securing the main grant funding.
An Inspiring Partnership:
Following months of extensive research, including site visits and reviewing completed projects across London and the southeast, we were thrilled to bring Bell Phillips Architects on board. Their wealth of experience in creating remarkable architectural wonders for public realms instilled confidence in us (see HERE, HERE and HERE). We wasted no time and immediately commenced work, adhering closely to the RIBA Plan of Work, to ensure the successful execution of our vision. Throughout the process, we maintained open communication with the Margate Town Deal (MTD) regeneration team, updating them on our appointment process and providing detailed programme information for the project.
Unforeseen Funding Delay:
Earlier that year, in a Zoom meeting with the Director of Regeneration, we were given reassurances that the main grant funding would be disbursed around October 2022. This promising news bolstered our confidence in moving forward with the project. However, to our disappointment, the expected funding did not materialise. We were forced to halt our progress due to the lack of a grant agreement by the end of October 2022. It was a challenging and frustrating situation, especially considering the significant progress we had made and the enthusiasm of the talented architects working on the project.
Despite the setback, we managed to accomplish RIBA stage 1 and appoint a chartered surveyor to conduct a thorough measured survey of the bandstand. This would have allowed us to initiate comprehensive cost estimations and detailed architectural planning required for the upcoming RIBA stages 2 and 3 of the project (and would have also allowed us to apply for match funding).
Delays and Consequences:
Regrettably, due to the council’s delay in finalising a grant agreement, which ideally, given our project programme, should have been ready for signing in September 2022, our project faced an indefinite hold. This unfortunate turn of events not only disrupted the workflow of the award-winning architects but also jeopardised the opportunity to breathe new life into a neglected asset in one of the most socially and economically deprived areas in the UK. The architect’s exceptional work, which held the promise of creating an incredible regeneration project, has been brought to a standstill. It is disheartening that, due to the inaction of TDC, this project will no longer proceed, leaving us deeply disappointed.
The Oval Bandstand & Lawns regeneration project, fueled by the Margate Town Deal’s Early Development Funding, started off with great momentum and enthusiasm. However, a delay in securing the necessary grant agreement caused an unfortunate halt, forcing us to put our ambitions on hold. The talented architects we appointed had already made significant progress, and their expertise could have transformed this neglected asset into something extraordinary. It is disappointing and regrettable that the council’s inaction led to the project’s demise, leaving us and the community disheartened. Moving forward, it is crucial that the local authority prioritise timely and efficient processes to ensure the successful realisation of essential community projects.