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EastEnders actress June Brown backs campaign to save Leas Pavilion

By Sean Axtell

Battle lines are being drawn between campaigners and a developer about renewed plans to transform the Leas Pavilion in Folkestone into a health club and flats.

Liz Mulqueen, from Friends of the Leas Pavilion, says EastEnders actress June Brown has agreed to be the face of the latest campaign.

It comes after Derek Govey, of Essex developer Churchgate, unveiled plans to soon deliver 70 flats around the Grade II-listed building and turn it into a health club.

June Brown, aka Dot Cotton, is backing Friends of the Leas Pavilion
June Brown, aka Dot Cotton, is backing Friends of the Leas Pavilion

June Brown said in a statement: “Having worked at the Pavilion back in the day I am very happy to lend my name to the latest Friends of Leas Pavilion campaign to help safeguard the pavilion for future generations.”

The Friends have created hundreds of stickers it hopes to display around town depicting June, who plays Dot Cotton, with the words 'Save the Leas Pavilion'.

And the Friends voiced hopes it will raise the profile of the ex-Victorian tearoom by keeping it in the public eye.

Ms Mulqueen also says she is writing to the secretary of state for housing, James Brokenshire, in a bid to thwart development.

She added: “We are trying to get people to put the transfers up in their shop windows and in their cars.

The Leas Pavilion as it is today
The Leas Pavilion as it is today

“In about a week’s time we are hoping they will be seen all over Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe.

“We think it’s important to raise the profile of the building by keeping it in the public eye and luckily we have the backing of June behind us.”

June Brown, who started her career at the hall, helped the Friends in 2016 drum up thousands of pounds to protect the building.

Her latest bout of support was ignited when Mr Govey asserted this month plans for the seven-storey block of flats would go ahead.

The Radnor Estate sold the Grade II Leas Pavilion and surrounding land to Churchgate in 2007 for £3.2 million on a 150 year lease.

An artist’s impression of how it would look if development plans go ahead
An artist’s impression of how it would look if development plans go ahead

The former Shepway District Council - which changed its name last month - gave Churchgate permission in 2015 to overhaul the former theatre into a health club with 68 flats.

However, Churchgate missed the planning deadline at the end of April as building work hadn’t started.

But campaigners’ hopes the proposals would die were dashed.

Speaking earlier this month Mr Govey said: “To be honest we’d like to get the project started next week and have it finished the week after if we had our way.

"Due to the current climate, developing the site hasn’t been possible, but due to market conditions the plans are now viable.

“Our new amended plans are in the pre-application stage, and we’re aware of the pressures for us to deliver the site.”

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