A council has officially launched its search for an operator of a crumbling music venue, as it vows not to sell it for housing.
Now, leader of Thanet District Council (TDC) Rick Everitt has said: “There’s no chance whatsoever that we will be selling the Winter Gardens.”
In a video shot inside the Grade II-listed building, he reassured residents that his team has the building's best interests at heart.
“We won’t allow uses which we don’t think comply with the heritage of the Winter Gardens and we won’t allow changes which we think undermine it.
“It’s a great opportunity for Margate.
“It’s a wonderful building with a wonderful history and it’s up to us to give it a wonderful future.
“That’s what we are trying to do.”
The venue dates back to 1911 and has seen huge names such as The Beatles and Madness play there.
In the years before shutting, the former operators Your Leisure lost significant amounts of money and were hit hard by an enforced closure ushered in by the pandemic.
It was generating annual revenues of about £1.3m prior to the lockdowns, but still losing between £105,000 and £275,000 a year.
The financial year ending March 2021 saw it rack up £300,000 in losses because of the pandemic restrictions.
In 2021, it was announced that bookings would be suspended from August 2022, with TDC taking control of the Winter Gardens that month.
Cllr Everitt added: “We are very pleased to have reached this exciting phase in the Winter Gardens project.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the creative and innovative ideas that we hope will be submitted as part of the marketing exercise.
“We are particularly interested to see proposals that really embrace the historic importance and design of the building while enhancing Margate’s leisure offer.”
Estate Agents Colliers will be assisting in finding a leaseholder.
They will now carry out a marketing exercise to attract expressions of interest from organisations with the required expertise.
The council expects the site to be “reimagined” to play a central role in Thanet’s economy.
Workers cleared out the site and items of historic interest and memorabilia such as posters have been put into safe storage.
Other salvaged objects from inside will be sold off to the public at Frederick Andrews auction house in Maidstone.
Auctions will take place at 10am on Thursday, November, 23 and 30 and Thursday, December 7.