Margate Caves were closed in 2004 and Thanet District Council (TDC), which owned the site, commissioned a structural survey in 2005 and a detailed report was produced on the condition of the caves. The report also gave recommendations for the work required in order to re-open to the public. In 2010 TDC filed a planning application for housing on the site. Faced with strong public opposition this proposal was delayed to allow local people to pursue options for saving this historical site and the caves for public benefit. In January 2011 Thanet District Council, which owns the caves, announced that it could not afford to restore them to use as an attraction. At this time they removed the entrance building and concreted over the existing entrance.
The Friends of Margate Caves campaign group was created in early 2011, to get the caves re-opened as a tourist attraction and to prevent development on the site that would prevent such use.
The Friends of Margate Caves (FOMC) is a formally constituted community group, recognised by the Council, to develop, pursue and implement a plan to reopen the Caves as a viable concern that would be of public benefit. FOMC commissioned an Options Appraisal for the site and worked with a consultant to develop a first stage business plan. One of the recommendations was that the governance structure needed to be more robust to manage such a project and deliver the public benefit objectives of the group.
Subsequently in November 2013 The Margate Caves Community Education Trust (TMCCET) was formed and registered with the Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). The aims and objectives of the charity are to advance the education of the general public in the subject and meaning of the environment and the social history of the Margate Caves and the Isle of Thanet, and to provide opportunities for social activities, learning and education that support the local community in tackling the multiple indices of disadvantage that many of its citizens face.
By 2016, TMCCET had prepared full plans to make the Caves safe again, build a new visitor centre with community rooms, and landscape the site over the caves - and raised over half a million pounds. In November 2016, an application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the money to start the work. In March 2017, the results of that application will be known.
If you would like to support the work of the Friends of Margate Caves, please do so c/o The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate CT9 2BU or through the PayPal button below. Thank you.