We are excited about Margate as Dreamland, the project we led on, is about to open.
Last year I wrote about some words about Margate that were published on the Design Council website.
A seaside town that the press often depicts as a bit of a basket case. I have one word for it: amazing! Margate is truly walking with a swagger these days. People are moving from their one bedroom flats in London to a four bedroom house and opening cafes, gallery shops.
Every time I go there I see more young couples doing something interesting with an old building. There is a cultural institution there, The Turner Contemporary that has helped to “gild brand Margate”. Margate is not being given a leg up by city folk like in Whitstable. These are young, often creative, without vast sums of money who are spotting an opportunity that is relatively affordable evocative property, a sandy beach, within reach of London and some likeminded pioneers. My god its exciting there. I look at it as a place full of exciting opportunities. You know that in ten years’ time it won’t be a failed Portas High St – it’ll be a cool town.
Now as the opening of Dreamland Margate fast approaches part of the HemingwayDesign team are spending a decent chunk of every week in Margate and we are seeing, at first hand, the town starting to do what Brighton started to do at pace in the late 60s, 70s and early 80s and start to attract a community that will form the bedrock to a more financially and culturally vibrant town. Like many seaside towns Margate still has its drug and street drinking problems, but there are now many less depressing things to take the eye. As the train times to central Kent towns and London gradually become eroded, as more decent employment opportunities materialise, and as affordability in London becomes increasingly out of reach for many, the wealth of relatively low cost “projects” in terms of properties that need TLC is attracting “pioneers “ on a weekly basis.
Of course there are those who have spotted the opportunity to “invest” in property in Margate, but at least these are not the Far Eastern and Russian “squirrel our money way in a safe haven Buy to Leave Empty property” buyers that are blighting the London housing market. For every person that is spotting an opportunity to get a return on investment, there is someone willing to give Margate a go as a home and a place to work from.
There is positive form of gentrification going on, and bring it on, because the rebirth of Margate, London’s sandy beach is one hell of an uplifting story. Dreamland, when it finally reopens this summer will be another milestone and being part of helping this great British seaside town to rediscover its mojo is a responsibility that we are not taking lightly.