Project MotorHouse is located in Ramsgate's Central Harbour Ward which is one of the most deprived areas in the South East and has particularly high levels of youth unemployment.
For more than two years, a group of residents has been working on a plan to save the derelict West Cliff Hall (aka ‘the old motor museum’) and turn it into an exciting mixed use venue where people of all ages can enjoy themselves and where Thanet’s young people can be introduced to a business culture and get the hands-on experience they need to feel confident about starting their own businesses. We intend using low carbon techniques to renovate the building and foster interest in the burgeoning low carbon economy of East Kent.
Project MotorHouse has a board made up of local residents together with prominent figures from the City. We began as the Low Carbon Community Ramsgate; the name Project MotorHouse came from focus groups we conducted with local youths.
Local organisations such as Ramsgate Town Council, Ramsgate Arts and the Kent Film Foundation have identified a lack of modern, well equipped venues as a problem. Our plan is to turn the hall into a mixed-use venue incorporating an indoor/outdoor theatre, cinema, gallery, shop, offices, function room and restaurant. Young people who work at The MotorHouse will be involved in the running of the venue and there will be a staff development programme designed to help them gain the personal and professional skills needed to start their own businesses in the area.
Thanet District Council currently owns the building. They asked Project MotorHouse to develop a business plan showing that the building can pay its own way without the need for revenue funding. On September 22nd, 2011, Cabinet decided to give the project the go ahead based on a Heads of Agreement.
We are currently finalising the contract. Because the hall is built into the cliff and the garden walls hold up one of the main roads coming into Ramsgate, sorting out who should be responsible for what is a complicated exercise. We are grateful to the Asset Transfer Unit and Locality for helping us negotiate our way through these complex issues.
Until the condition reports on the structure are done, we cannot know how much the works to the hall will cost but our best estimate at this time is £5 million. The success of the Turner Contemporary in nearby Margate has shown us that a sophisticated cultural project can produce huge benefits for a deprived area.
Project MotorHouse is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. See the About the Board page for details of the trustees.