A public rally will be held outside the Granville Theater in Ramsgate on Tuesday March 15 in support of a community takeover bid by the Kent Film Foundation.
People are invited to join the support show starting at 4:30 p.m.
In October, Thanet Council invited eligible community groups to express their interest in becoming the new owners of the Granville Theater in Ramsgate.
The council owns full ownership of the Granville but the site has been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The property is Community Value Asset which means any disposal of the building must be made in accordance with the rules set out in the Localism Act 2011.
But the Kent Film Foundation’s submission was rejected as not meeting the relevant criteria and the site is now advertised on the open market – although Thanet’s council says the foundation has time to resubmit a proposal.
The foundation had hoped to create a new center with a workshop, cinema, theater, bee-friendly rooftop terrace, the city’s first organic restaurant — and a new name.
Plans included workshop space to continue with youth film clubs and to create a new youth theater and orchestra in partnership with Pie Factory music.
There would also have been two cinema screens and a new theater space.
Construction plans for the building called for a “Green Build” design, with a bee-friendly rooftop terrace open to the public and a small cinema kiosk/cafe.
However, Thanet council said the film foundation can still submit its bid through the Community Right to Tender process.
Cllr Ash Ashbee, Chief and Cllr Reece Pugh, Deputy Chief and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, in a joint statement said: “Firstly, we would like to thank the Kent Film Foundation for their submission under the council’s community asset transfer process for the Granville Theater Building in Ramsgate.Following a thorough assessment, despite the projected plans for the site, it was found that the bid did not meet the criteria required by the council in as part of the community asset transfer process.
“Council has a duty to all of its residents to ensure that any community group seeking to take over a public building can fully demonstrate that they can do so. This includes a full business case with confirmation of funds as well as the financial capacity and skills to ensure the project will be successful and have a long term future to benefit the entire community.
“These processes exist both to protect those looking to take over a building for the future with the associated maintenance and operating costs. As a council, we have a governance duty to ensure we get the better value, both financial and social, for a public good that would otherwise be sold.
“We recognize that the Granville theater is a place that has fond memories for many inhabitants of the region. It is truly encouraging to see the huge amount of positive local support for the project and for an asset that we all want to ensure a positive future for.
“Although the submission of a transfer of community assets was unsuccessful, the Kent Film Foundation still has the opportunity to submit its interest in the building through our community right process to bid, until Wednesday 20 April 2022. .”
Eastcliff Labor ward councilors Steve Albon, Helen Crittenden and Corinna Huxley said they attended a number of meetings this week to try to secure a positive future for the Granville Theater in Ramsgate that reflects the wishes of the community local and broader.
These included a public meeting at the Churchill Tavern on Monday hosted by Ramsgate Labor County Councilor Karen Constantine, a private meeting on Tuesday with Kent Film Foundation bidders to gather information and offer advice, and a meeting Friday with council officers and cabinet member Cllr Reece Pugh.
Ward Councilors have asked Cabinet to review the process followed and give the Kent Film Foundation a further opportunity to develop their case and make any decisions in an open and transparent manner so that the public can understand the issues and hear both sides of the story.
Cllr Huxley said: ‘We have made it clear to the cabinet member the extent of the public’s concerns about the future of the Granville Theatre.
“We had hoped this would lead to constructive dialogue and further consideration of the Kent Film Foundation’s proposal as a transfer of community assets before a final decision is made, so it is very disappointing that a few hours later, the council appears to say that it will proceed to offer the building on the open market.
“Any decision on the sale of the Granville theater must be taken by the Council of Ministers during a meeting open to the public. We still hope that will be the case. »
Right to bid from the community
Other offers for the site can be made within the framework of the community right to bid, until the end of the moratorium period on Wednesday 20 April. The premises are advertised on the open market and any offers received will be evaluated at the end of the moratorium period.
Interested parties can find out more about the Community Right To Bid process on the council’s website: www.thanet.gov.uk/community-right-to-challenge-and-bid
A petition set up by artist Karen Vost urging Thanet Council to reconsider its decision is gaining traction with over 4,550 signatures.