Whetherspoons or Market Stalls at Ramsgate’s Prime Seafront Pavilion Location?

I can’t believe what I am reading in the local newspaper.

A successful  34 yea old national chain might take over a derelict eyesore in a prime location.  Wetherspoons – the NO MUSIC venue! They might move in to Ramsgate, renovate and maintain the Pavilion to a standard that one would expect (nice toilets)  and they have a good record in using unique environments, not making every venue look the same.

Alternatively the venue could be turned into an indoor market.  I can’t quite see how the renovations would be funded, how it would be run, who the stall holders would be.  Would it be the sort of stall holders that are in Ramsgate’s town centre on a Friday – I don’t know who they are because I avoid Ramsgate town that day!  I wait for quieter times to stock up from the 99p shop.  Who would the customers be at the indoor market – profile, numbers, where have they come from? Where would they park and just how would a profit be generated.

QUESTION: can anyone point to a successful indoor market that they would hope to copy within the Pavilion space?  Exclude those in London because they have a catchment population of 10 million people and fantastic public transport.

There will be a VERY brief opportunity to investigate this vision, on Sunday 17th Nov 12-2.30 at Albion House.

There have been some comments suggesting that those seafront business down that road are the main opponents to Whetherspoons. Let me give my very personal view of things.  Every time Mr Tara Plumbing & I go out in the evening (which isn’t often – young children) we go to Miles Barr I can’t imagine that we would become regulars in a Weatherspoons.

When we have children with us we would not go to MB but we might go in to Pizza Express, Alexandra Ristorante, Pelosi, Pete’s Fish Factory or the Belgium Bar.  I also like the cabin next to the toilets for coffee, sorry don’t know the name.  And we frequently support the cafe on the beach for budget cups of tea and chips.  I still can’t imagine we would go in Wetherspoons.

Lots of people will go in Wetherspoons, people who want a different atmosphere, and much lower prices.  Ramsgate seafront is like a ghost town for many hours of the week – even on sunny weekends we are amazed by the lack of people on the streets.  When whole families go out they often can’t afford the prices of the venues along that stretch.  I think Wetherspoons cater largely for a different group of customers so the existing business should not feel threatened but may benefit from more passing trade and a busy atmosphere in that cul de sac.

I see the issue relating to my own business. There are just over 50,000 homes in Thanet and Tara Plumbing can’t plumb in all of them, so should there be other plumbing business?  Offering very different and perhaps cheaper services?  Yes, why not let everyone find the plumber that suits their needs.

Is any of this really relevant? Here is a statement issued by Thanet District Council that makes the legal position of the Pavilion quite clear: Rank own the lease, they are responsible for looking after the building.  If the lease passes to someone else they must have very deep pockets.


It would be good to hear of other viable plans but so far ONLY Wetherspoons have put a financially viable proposal forwards.


15 Responses to “Whetherspoons or Market Stalls at Ramsgate’s Prime Seafront Pavilion Location?”

  1. 1 William Epps November 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    A very sensible view from someone who knows what it is like to run a business. The knockers, whose names are now engraved in Ramsgate folklore, are those that always oppose the big guy, convinced that small and penniless is somehow more attractive. Much the same as the scene in Margate where the knockers do not want Tesco, that profiteering giant, spending its money tarting up the eyesore that is Arlington and its surrounds. No let’s carry on with dereliction, shabbiness and sad little boarded up shops in the arcade

    • 2 Solo Gays November 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Something needs to happen there, but this enclave does seem to suffer something of an identity crisis – “Exclusivety” (which would help surrounding property prices I guess) versus “Something for Everyone”? I would favour a Weatherspoons, but I am keen to hear the argument as to how profits would be re-invested back into the community?

      • 3 William Epps November 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        They probably wouldn’t, SG, for Weatherspoons is a business not the NAAFI. The important thing is to restore this classic old building, get it back into use and remove another eyesore from Ramsgate’s sea front.

        The community bit is served by the rent the company will pay TDC for the use of the building, thus helping the local budget.

  2. 4 Solo Gays November 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I obviously didn’t distinguish my remark very well William. I was under the impression Emma has created a CIC (Community Interest Company)or something similar , to establish a multi use venue, whereby any profits once directors and other liabilities are paid, goes towards local community projects. People would of course need to accept that could be some way off if Emma’s scheme won the day

    • 5 William Epps November 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      That, of course, is the whole gist of Tara’s post. When one has a big company with a 34 year track record, should we be looking at a chancy venture dependent on market traders being able to make a living out of a fairly expensive location. Nice idea feeding back to the community out of the profits, but there could well not be any.

      The important thing is to restore this historic building and get a decent rental return for it. That is assured under the Weatherspoons option. There are no guarantees from the CIC.

  3. 6 Solo Gays November 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Well at least I can drop by to speak to Emma about her proposal…..

  4. 7 Barry James November 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    The cafe next the lift is Topps run by Kandy Jones

  5. 8 William Epps November 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Well that has to be the clinching factor then, SG, that you can drop by and talk to Emma about the proposal. That is one I never thought of being too distracted by the financial considerations and prospects of success. See you down the market sometime.

    • 9 Solo Gays November 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Very droll WE, but we need all players to treat us with some courtesy and respect, and be available to answer any questions(recorded publicly) posed by those of us to whom they seek to provide a service.

      Barry, I shall call into Kandy’s cafe before or after my grand tour of Albion House on Sunday

  6. 10 joe November 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I think this is a fair comment, other than that the pavilion is a public building and that everyone should get a fair hearing about the future of it. I foresee problems in that a) there are already a lot of bars in that area b) the parking is a problem c) there may be effects on other local businesses of a very large Wetherspoons d) there are other options to be considered on the table and e) there may be an impact on the beach of having the pavilion as a bar.

    If these issues are all considered carefully and in public and the Wetherspoons option is the best, then fair enough. At present the decision is being made in private and other options seem to be excluded from the process.

    • 11 mrstaraplumbing November 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Hi Joe.
      These are all good point that you make.
      If you click on the link in my blog the process and responsibility is explained.
      Rank are responsible for the building until the end of their lease, so in the very first instant (as I understand it) any bid to take over the building has to be approved by Rank and must prove that they have enough money to maintain the building now and way into the future.
      If Rank are happy and things progress then there is the planning stage – where public are consulted.
      I agree the impact of any use of that building on the beach, that area and local businesses is important. The impact is negative right now. The beach is often empty most of the time, even on sunny summer days. And you can often pass through Ramsgate and along that stretch of Road and wonder if you are in a ghost town. We know Ramsgate has lots of good things about it but firsy impressions count

      • 12 Solo Gays November 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        I have just looked around Albion House. What an interesting house and project. I can imagine visitors being drawn there for the views and its history, certainly a lot of interest today. A letter from Laura Sandys was on view who is investigating if there has been any concealment on the part of TDC of Rank’s offer some time ago to give up the lease, and the implications this has with regard to localism and our right to collectively shape our town. I think we need to get behind our local architects and tradespeople.

  7. 13 eastcliffrichard November 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

    It’s never a good idea to go by what you read in a TDC press release, Mrs TP! What the council have hidden from us is that Rank have always been desperate to give up the lease because they don’t want the ongoing responsibility of being the head leaseholder. They told TDC this years ago, and with Rank out of the way, and the lease extended to 100 years, there would have been plenty of commercial organisations lining up for the Pav. But no, for whatever reason they didn’t take Rank up on their offer, and consequently have, yet again, as with Pleasurama, desperately clung on to what deputy leader Alan Poole describes as ‘the only game in town’, viz Wetherspoons. They have effectively lied to the electorate, not marketed the property openly and fairly as they are legally bound to do, and have demonstrated the same muddled and idiotic thinking that got us into the Pleasurama mess. The Pav could have been occupied years ago it it wasn’t for these fools.

    That said, I too wonder about the viability of a market on the site. I guess the nearest working example of something similar would be the Goods Shed in Canterbury. Is that a success?

    • 14 mrstaraplumbing November 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Don’t get my negative views of doom and gloom be misunderstood. Personally, I would rather a successful market over a Wetherspoons any day. Even the Goods Shed in Canterbury has a far bigger (and dare I say more affluent) local population to draw upon.

      I rather suspect the on going maintenance costs for our lovely Victoria pavilion will just be scary. It is not just the money that would need to be spent for initial renovation of such an unusual building in a location exposed to the harsh sea air with a basement as well….

  8. 15 Mark jones March 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Weather spoons is bar far the better option. A tried and tested large company that can front the costs of such a large venue.
    Weather spoons provides an affordable venue for both drink and food and so families and couples on a budget will be more Han happy to have a nice quality food pub at last.

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