Margate tackles 'eyesores' for Turner gallery opening

Image caption, Gallery director Victoria Pomeroy said the town needed to give visitors a "great experience"

Empty shops will be brought into use and "eyesore" buildings will be tackled for the opening of Margate's Turner gallery, Thanet council has said.

Councillors who were told the event next year was a "unique opportunity" for the Kent seaside town have agreed on a plan to spruce up the area.

The town's signage, lighting, seafront shelters, railway station forecourt, and Arcadian Hotel are to be improved.

Gallery director Victoria Pomeroy said it was vital Margate was prepared.

Thanet councillor Roger Latchford, cabinet spokesman for regeneration, said the opening of Turner Contemporary was a chance not only to attract new visitors but also to change people's perceptions of Margate.

He said: "The first few months, when those new visitors are coming into the area, will be critical. That's why we need to focus our attention on preparing Margate for that.

"A huge amount of regeneration work has already taken place in the town in recent years, but we know there are still some key sites that need tackling.

"The last thing we want is for those to have an impact on people's views of the town when they come to visit Turner Contemporary."

Word-of-mouth 'important'

A statement from the council said the plan would "identify the top 10 priority projects to work on for the next 12 months, which will focus on improving the area from the railway station up to Turner Contemporary".

It said the projects included "tackling eyesore buildings, such as the Arcadian and Fort Road Hotel, working with the owners of empty shops to develop innovative solutions to bring them back into use, along with tackling priority areas, such as the railway station forecourt".

Ms Pomeroy said the opening would bring thousands of people to the town.

She said: "Word-of-mouth is so important and we need these visitors to be leaving having had a great experience of the town and telling friends, family and colleagues about what is happening here."

Building work on the £17.4m art gallery started in November 2008.

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