Winchelsea Terrace

after before

This house had been empty for more than 10 years and was suffering from significant water damage from a leaking roof. The property was raising concerns within the community because of the deteriorating condition. The Council explored a number of options before deciding to compulsorily purchase the property, which resulted in the owner agreeing to sell the property to the Council.

The Council sold the house on following a standard competitive tendering process. There were a number of strict conditions about bringing it back into use within a reasonable period of time. All conditions have been met and the keys have been handed over to a first time buyer who completely renovated the property.

Hardwick Road

hard after hard beforeThe compulsory purchase of a property is always a measure of last resort, but where the owner fails to engage with the Council in a constructive matter and previous action has failed to resolve the issue, then compulsory purchase will be considered.

This semi-detached property had been in a very poor condition for 20 years and had been the subject of repeated complaints from neighbours.  Despite numerous assurances from the owner that works would be completed, the property remained in poor condition.

The Council had started compulsory purchase proceeding, but continued to negotiate with the owner. Following full Council approval to instigate compulsory purchase proceedings, the owner decided to sell the property to a local developer, who renovated the property within three months and it now provides a home for a local family.

Granville Street

gran after gren beforeThis property was served with a Closing Order in December 1990, which prevented it from being occupied due to its poor condition. It has remained empty ever since.

The Council secured ownership of the property through a Compulsory Purchase Order in 2006 and then sold it to a developer on the understanding that it would be renovated to Decent Homes Standard. Works were completed in 2008 and the property let to a family.

Demolition underway on eyesore site in Cliftonville

The former Warren Court Hotel in Arthur Road has been one of the key targets of the Council’s empty property initiative, after it became derelict and was the victim of two fires.  The property has been a major eyesore and has blighted the local community for a number of years.


The Council had previously served a number of statutory notices on the owners, requiring them to carry out remedial works to improve the condition of the property.


These included:

  • Section 4 : Prevention of Damage by Pest Act 1949 (Accumulation of Rubbish)
  • Section 78 : Building Act 1984 (Dangerous Structures)
  • Section 79 : Building Act 1984 (Ruinous&Dilapidated)
  • Section 215 : Town&Country Planning Act 1990 (Detrimental to the Amenities )


The owners failed to comply with any of the notices, resulting in the Council undertaking some of the works in default.  Despite repeated attempts by the Council to engage with the owner to encourage the redevelopment of the site, no planning applications were forth coming.


Consequently, due to the condition of the site and the owner’s reluctance to bring forward proposals, the Council offered to purchase the property at market value.  The valuation would have been determined by an Independent RICS Valuer.


However, the Company wanted a price that was 5 times greater than its actual value.  This was perhaps exacerbated by the fall in the local housing market due to the recent credit crunch, which has had a substantial affect on property values.


Consequently, with no reasonable prospect of the condition of the property being resolved, the Council proceeded with Compulsory Purchase (CPO) proceedings under Section 226 Town&Country Planning Act 1990.
The owners appealed against the CPO and the matter was referred to a Planning Inquiry for arbitration. Two days before the Planning Inquiry the owners withdrew their appeal and the Compulsory Purchase Order was confirmed by the Secretary of State.


However, before it was implemented, the Council was able to reach a voluntary agreement with the owner of the property for them to sell it to the Town and Country Housing Group at market value.  The cost of making the Compulsory Purchase Order was funded from Kent County Council’s ‘No Use Empty’ campaign.  The ‘No Use Empty’ campaign was set up by Kent County Council in partnership with the 12 District and Borough Councils in Kent.


Town and Country Housing Group submitted plans to Thanet District Council last year, which were approved, to build 12 three-bed houses and convert the properties in Arthur Road to eight two-bed flats.  The development includes the reinstatement of a terrace, which originally formed the third side of Dalby Square.


The scheme of 20 units of affordable housing in the newly designated Conservation Area will bring a much needed improvement to Dalby Square.


The Scheme costs are in the region of £3.3 Million, the funding for this scheme is made up of:

  • £1.2 Million (Homes&Community Agency)
  • £200,000 (Thanet District Council)
  • £1.9 Million (Town&Country Housing Group)


In addition, Thanet District Council has contributed some land to make the scheme viable.


An archaeological dig has already been completed on the site and demolition works have begun to remove the fire-damaged structure behind the façade of the former Warren Court Hotel, which will be retained.  The demolition work is expected to continue until the end of June, which will be followed by the building work.  The development is expected to open in autumn 2012.

Cllr. Chris Wells, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said “It’s fantastic news to finally see demolition work underway on this eyesore site that has plagued the local area for so many years.  Our empty property officer has worked exceptionally hard to get to this stage.  It hasn’t been easy and we had to go down the Compulsory Purchase Order route before we were able to make real progress on this.  Now people can finally see results with a stunning development planned that will deliver 20 new affordable family homes that are desperately needed in Thanet.  I’m sure that will be widely welcomed, given the complaints we’ve received about this property over the years.”


Town and Country’s New Initiatives Manager, Tim Warren, said “We have been working closely with Thanet District Council on the regeneration of the Cliftonville West Renewal Area and Dalby Square is at the heart of this.  The scheme is seen very much as a catalyst to others investing in the area.  It will make a remarkable difference to the area and we are proud to be playing our part in making it happen.”


Steve Grimshaw, Kent County Council Project Manager, for the ‘No Use Empty’ campaign, said “It is important that with house-building declining, we look at ways that we can utilise unused buildings to create affordable, quality housing. Thanet District Council has worked tirelessly to ensure this site will have a future and we are delighted to be involved in a project that, as well as providing 20 much needed homes, will also help revitalise the surrounding area.  This will serve as a template for future large scale re-developments which will allow us to deliver quality housing in a cost effective way.”

The Arcadian

hotel advertBuilt in the 1880s, it was originally Lilley’s Hotel Arcadian, a 19th century bolt hole for genteel Victorians leaving smog riddenLondon for Margate’s fresh sea air.

The Arcadian was subsequently converted into twelve flats.

The property had been unoccupied for many years and run down to the point of dereliction, reducing a once iconic building to a major eyesore.

Discussions with the freeholder had been ongoing for a number of years, with no real prospects of the project moving forward.

Turner ContemporaryThe Arcadian is located directly opposite the proposed new iconic £17 Million, Turner Contemporary gallery.

It became a priority for Thanet District Council to deal with the condition of the Arcadian, which was having a negative impact on the surrounding area.

Consequently, Thanet District Council served a notice under Section 215, Town&Country Planning Act 1990, requiring the freeholder to improve the external appearance of the property.

Case Studies: Section 215 Town&Country Planning Act 1990

The freeholder failed to comply with the terms of the notice and it was clear that without direct intervention by the Council, the property would remain in a poor condition.

Consequently, the Council instigated Compulsory Purchase proceedings under section 226 Town&Country Planning Act 1990

The freeholder lodged an appeal against the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and the matter was to be dealt with by a Planning Inquiry.

Mr Berger, one of the leaseholders approached the Council to discuss the option of him purchasing all interests in the Arcadian. On that basis he asked whether the Council would withdraw the CPO

Due to the time constraints surrounding the imminent opening of the Turner Contemporary, the Council was not prepared to withdraw the CPO.


Turner Contemporary

However, if he was able to acquire all interests in the property, ensure that the current objection against the CPO was withdrawn and carried out those works specified in the Section 215 Notice, then the Council would be prepared to withdraw the CPO.

This partnership approach was agreed. The Council secured the CPO, but did not proceed to the General Vesting Declaration (GVD), which would have vested the property into the Councils ownership.

Mr Berger, eventually secured all relevant interests on a voluntary basis, with all parties being aware that should there be no agreement, the Council would proceed with the GVD.

Mr Berger, then prioritised the external works required by the Section 215 Notice and to be faithful to the Victorian character and history of the building, replicated the Arcadian’s wrought iron balcony and hotel signage.

His effort was recognised by the Margate Civic Society, Town Pride Awards 2011.

Once the external works had been completed, Mr Berger continued with the comprehensive renovation of the Aracdian.

The total development costs for the project was in the order of £1 Million. Kent County Council, through the No Use Empty Initiative was able to provide an interest-free loan of £175,000, with Mr Berger providing the rest of the funding.

The project comprising of 14 one and two bedroom apartments, was completed in November 2011.

The development carefully replicates The Arcadian’s original wrought iron balcony and hotel signage, meaning the Victorian character of the building is retained. Inside, the well-presented apartments are spacious, with Victorian high ceilings and large, panoramic windows. The internal finish includes hand fitted kitchens and solid wood worktops and some apartments have private balconies.

All the apartments have been let, reflecting the high demand for good quality accommodation.


Steve Grimshaw, Project Manager for the No Use Empty scheme said:

“It is important that with house-building declining, we look at ways that we can utilise unused buildings to create quality housing. Thanet District Council has worked tirelessly to ensure this site will have a future and we are delighted to be involved in a project that as well as providing 14 much-needed homes, will further aid the regeneration Margate Old Townfollowing the arrival of the Turner Centre earlier this year.”

Geoffrey Berger, developer of The Arcadian said:

“In the current climate it is extremely challenging to get re-developments of this nature off the ground, and I am grateful to the No Use Empty scheme&Thanet District Council for the assistance they have provided, financial and otherwise, to help turn my vision for the site into a reality.”

Inside Kent Magazine – Issue 9, page 22

Open publication – Free publishingMore 9