Tesco plan by Arlington House site in Margate opposed

Artist's impression of Arlington House
Image caption An artist's impression shows how the view from Margate beach towards Dreamland and Arlington House could look

Plans for a large new Tesco store on Margate seafront have sparked opposition from residents in the area.

People who live in Arlington House, on the seafront, are in dispute with landlord Freshwater over the plans to build the superstore on the site.

Campaigners fear that the Grade II* listed Dreamland railway would be affected by the store's proximity.

But Freshwater claims the development is a vital part of Margate's regeneration.

The steel-reinforced concrete 18-storey tower block was built in the 1960s as the country's first park-and-shop development.

Application for listing

Freshwater, which owns the lease to the Arlington site at the west end of Margate's seafront, wants to build the supermarket at the same level as an existing, unused, car park behind the tower block.

Some residents are opposing these plans and are hoping to have the application ruled illegal because of the recent upgrading of the neighbouring Dreamland scenic railway from Grade II to Grade II* listing.

Valerie Kirschner, secretary of the Arlington House Residents' Association, said: "There is a tremendous community in this building.

"One of the major causes of concern for us is, if you build a giant supermarket on the site, the traffic around here will be phenomenal.

"We will no longer be living on the seafront, we will be living on an island of traffic."

English Heritage is considering an application to have Arlington House listed, which campaigners hope will mean the redevelopment cannot go ahead.

'Not against Tesco'

Architect Sam Causer said: "It's absolutely representative of its time. We don't build like this anymore and it represents a hugely optimistic view of the way we live."

Image caption The supermarket would be built next to the Grade II* Dreamland scenic railway

An outline planning application has also been submitted to develop the shops on the seafront, between the beach and Arlington House, and for a 60-bedroom hotel.

This will need to be approved before this work can begin.

Stephen Byfield, from Freshwater, said: "When we have interest from operators to build the buildings on the front we will put them in place."

He admitted that Freshman had not received any interest from companies wanting to run the hotel or rent the retail units.

Without the hotel and shops, residents fear that the supermarket will dominate the view from Margate's famous sandy beach.

They commissioned Liam Nabb and Mr Causer to produce an artist's impression of how the new Tesco store could look.

Mr Byfield said that a plan had been discussed with Thanet District Council to put up "some sensible and attractive hoardings" until the hotel and shops are built.

He said that Freshwater's intention to improve Arlington house, by cleaning and staining the tower to return it to its original cream colour, was part of the planning application.

"All the windows will be replaced with new double glazed units, done in a way that we can get a uniform style across all the windows.

"At the moment, looking at Arlington House, you have some windows with net curtains, some without, some with curtains."

John Moss, vice chairman of the residents association, responded to the plan saying: "The developers are planning on changing all the windows, but they are owned by the flats' leaseholders."

Image caption Freshwater plans to replace all the windows, some of which are owned by the residents

Mr Byfield admitted: "We want a building that looks excellent from the outside. It may be very difficult to achieve if we can't get access to these flats."

As part of the development of the site, the dedicated residents' car parking will also be moved to spaces reserved within the proposed supermarket car park.

Freshwater said it had been looking for a way of developing the site for 10 years.

"The only way it can happen is if we get the supermarket to come in and build there, because that will bring in sufficient funds to make this happen," Mr Byfield said.

Mr Moss said: "We are in favour of the redevelopment of the site, we're not against Tesco, we're not against having a supermarket on the site.

"What we are saying is the size of the proposed supermarket is far too big, and the amount of traffic it will generate is not going to benefit Margate."

Tesco was unavailable for comment.

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