Been a long time coming but below is an update on what we’ve been up to this year (taken from our AGM last week).
It’s been a fraught year, of many ups and downs. The downs mainly stemming from the fact that the building is still being neglected and, despite the planning permission expiring earlier this year, no new plans have been submitted, thus allowing the Pavilion to sit there and rot away.
We have continued piling pressure on the Council to make sure that the developers maintain the Pavilion, but with all the props and hoardings currently in place, and some vandalism to part of the terracotta, it’s probably looking in the saddest state ever. The Council are currently preparing, with their Structural Engineer, a Repairs Notice, which will in due course be served.
Dialogue with the developers has been negligible (that word just keeps coming up!) during the course of the year. We have received a few emails from them who continue to say that the building is not at risk, and that they continue to work with their architect on the new plans. They have also been in touch to complain about us “slagging them off in the press”, and complaining that the Griff Rhys Jones piece we filmed was an attempt to embarrass them. Well, yes, it was – and yes we do – but what other options do we have?
We did, during the year, contact the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government; bringing to their attention the fact that the developer appears to have been land-banking the site for 10 years, which contravenes the Government’s position that developers should “do their duty for Britain and build houses”. We received a reply which states that local planning authorities have powers to decline applications that are submitted with the intention of, over time, wearing down opposition to undesirable developments.
One thing we have been quite successful in, during the year, is keeping the building in the public eye. Following last year’s listing in the top 10 “at risk” buildings with the Victorian Society, this year we were listed in Save Britain’s Heritage “Revive and Survive” Buildings at Risk Catalogue 2018-2019. Ben, from our committee, attended the launch party in June in London, together with our current Folkestone Mayor. The Pavilion was specifically mentioned in the address that evening, and also in the foreword of the catalogue (which incidentally is available to order from us). As a result of this we were contacted by BBC South East, who wished to use the Pavilion in an edition of Inside Out, about endangered buildings in the area. This was filmed in July and we were very lucky to have Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) to agree to be interviewed in it, and this aired on BBC in September. Also, in July, we were able to get Griff Rhys Jones, the Chairman of the Victorian Society, and President of Civic Voice, to spend a couple of hours with us before his gig at the Quarterhouse. June Brown kindly gave permission to use her as our “poster girl” for the Save the Leas Pavilion stickers, (we would be happy to send you some for free). All these actions have been taken to make it less likely that an “accident” might befall the building, and we must continue to keep it up there in the public eye.
So what does 2019 hold? Well, as we’re so frustrated at the lack of progress with the developers, we decided that something positive should be done to further keep the building in the public eye. So we have created the Leas Pavilion Community Archive project. We have applied for funding for this from the Coastal Revival Fund (a decision is expected this month) and we also plan to apply to the HLF Sharing Heritage Fund.
I will post a separate page about this so if you are interested in helping, or have anything to contribute to the archive, please do contact us.
We also have a very special event lined up for January, hosted by the cast of the BBC Radio 4 series ‘Home Front’. Watch this space for more info in the next couple of weeks.
Roll on 2019!