Council bosses believe a radical revamp of King’s Hall in Herne Bay can help it become Kent’s number one concert venue.
The refurbishment of the old theater is part of a bold £13million vision to develop the town’s best-known assets – with the bandstand, clock tower and memorial park also online for improvements.
Canterbury City Council, which owns King’s Hall, admits the waterfront attraction is outdated and underused in its current form.
But officers are convinced the once-thriving location is brimming with potential – and believe a well-executed revamp of its offering can put the town “firmly on the UK map” as a top destination.
They want to expand its capacity, open a seaside bar/café, improve the acoustics and create a professional music production room.
It is hoped the works will attract “many more overnight visitors to the city” and boost business investment.
In order to deliver the plans, the council is bidding for a share of the government’s £4.6billion leveling fund – intended to help often overlooked places by pumping money into transport projects, regeneration and cultural.
Other proposals under consideration include access to the world of “augmented reality” – allowing mobile phone users to see virtual representations of how the city looked hundreds of years ago as they walk.
The bandstand and clock tower are also set to be restored, while electricity will be provided to the memorial park to help with the organization of events, and cycling and walking routes will be improved.
The key renovation, however, focuses on transforming the King’s Hall – potentially increasing its capacity to 1,200.
“The vision is for it to become the music hub of Kent: a pioneering cultural, creative and community destination, accessible to all, which uses music as a means to entertain, inspire, engage and educate,” says a council report.
“The venue will operate across a range of channels to become a seven-day-a-week multi-platform music hub with a national profile, unique in the south of England.
“He is [currently] significantly hampered by capacity limitations, outdated decor and seating, poor acoustics and technology, an inflexible performance area, and inefficient use of non-performance spaces.
“It is the only major concert hall of its size in the constituency, including Canterbury, presenting a huge potential audience.”
The historic venue was originally a pavilion before being converted into King Edward VII Memorial Hall in 1913 in memory of the late King.
A public consultation on the new proposals received a positive reaction from residents, with 74% in favor of investing in waterfront landmarks.
Respondents echoed the council’s position that the King’s Hall ‘could like some attention’ in order for it to become a ‘magnet’ for entertainment.
Councilors discussed Herne Bay’s plans at a meeting of the Authority’s Oversight and Review Committee before submitting a request for funding before the July 6 deadline.
Cllr Ian Stockley said: ‘We have worked on the King’s Hall for many, many years. It would be great to have a cash injection – we all know that without it it’s not going anywhere, so it’s vital.
“One of the problems is that he’s on a branch. It used to be one of the places people wanted to go, but the town has moved to the clock tower and the pier.
“So we need to encourage footfall or cycling between them, modal shift away from car and motorbikes – dare I say motorbikes in Herne Bay, probably not.
“We have issues with that, and we need to resolve them with traffic calming.
“Currently it’s a bit anarchic in terms of motor vehicles and noise. It’s not necessarily the nicest place.
Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding previously said the scheme could help Herne Bay ‘leapfrog other UK seaside offerings’ and ‘set it apart from other coastal locations in Kent and attract many more people from all over the world. country”.
The Bandstand’s aspirations center on creating a “welcome, entertainment space as well as a new bike centre, restrooms and change rooms to reclaim its place as a central beachside meeting point. sea and center of activities”.
The clock tower, meanwhile, will be upgraded with ‘landmark lighting’.
Signposted walking and cycling routes linking the station, the remembrance park, the town center and the seafront promenade are also planned.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Neil Baker explained how the redevelopment needs to plan for the future.
“The Olympics that have been very successful outside of the competitive element are the ones that have actually resulted in long-term regeneration,” he said.
“That’s something we have to grasp here.
“The plans would be great, but we don’t want the King’s Hall to suddenly look really beautiful, but six months later the cracks are literally starting to show again.
“If we can do that, it will put us on the path to an unbelievably good place. It’s not the biggest sum of money in the world, but it could be the spark that will make the difference.
The curator also raised the possibility of using augmented reality technology – similar to the Pokemon GO craze of 2016 – to bolster the town’s visual story offering.
He said: ‘There’s no reason you can’t walk along the Herne Bay seafront, hold your phone and see the pier as it was projected in today’s image today.
“It’s not the most expensive technology in the world. Somewhere that would benefit immensely would be the Reculver towers.
“Imagine sitting there having your coffee, holding it up, and you could be watching a Roman battle almost in front of you.
“We could do that so well. I think it would take us a little further than we are.
The Canterbury district has been listed by the government as a high priority location, meaning it has a good chance of claiming Leveling Up money.
Due to Herne Bay falling to a different parliamentary constituency than Canterbury, the council has the option of launching a separate £20million bid for the town.