Thanet District Council has confirmed that the iconic Oval Bandstand and Lawns, Cliftonville is now owned by the community.

The freehold was transferred to GRASS Cliftonville CIC from Thanet District Council on Thursday 8 July, 2021, so the site and associated buildings are now owned and managed by a not-for-profit social enterprise organisation. 

Stephen Darrer, Secretary of GRASS Cliftonville, said: “Local people have always felt a sense of ownership over this site. Now, with the completion of our Community Asset Transfer, the central role of The Oval Bandstand & Lawns in our vibrant community has been strengthened. This important change will help GRASS  to attract grant funding, and allow us to upgrade facilities at the site so that it can play an even bigger part in community life. 

“The challenge of concluding this transfer was heightened by the ongoing pandemic. It has taken tenacity, sleepless nights, strong partnerships, and a collective vision to reach this milestone moment, which promises to release the  huge potential this attraction has to help buttress the growing Cliftonville coastal economy.

“The Oval Bandstand is a not-for-profit social enterprise, which means it will be a self-sustaining community events space generating revenue from the café and events, as well as donations, and 100% of that money will go back into the running of the site. We look forward to bringing immediate employment opportunities, training, and most importantly a community hub at the heart of Cliftonville.

“As its efforts to protect and enhance The Oval are redoubled, the CIC looks forward to collaborating with heritage partners, interested groups, and most importantly, local residents.” 

A spokesperson for Thanet District Council commented: “The Council is certain that GRASS and the local community will make full use of the asset to protect its future and develop the range of facilities and services  provided on site. We wish them every success in their future ventures.”

Simon Bell, Chair of GRASS Cliftonville, added: “GRASS welcomes this exciting development and we look forward to working with local people as plans to upgrade this iconic site are taken forward.

“We would like to say thank you to all our local councillors, our partners at Thanet District Council, The National Lottery community fund, Coyler Fergusson, and to everyone who continues to support us. The local community has shown an immense amount of support and generosity in their donations through our hugely successful Crowdfunder campaign, and this must be applauded publicly.

“If anyone would like to get in touch to ask questions, suggest projects, or donate money, the group’s website www.grasscliftonville.org contains a contact email, details about the CIC, and lots of information on our exciting plans for The Oval Bandstand and Lawns.”

By Ed