RESIDENTS of a seaside town have told how they are being priced out because Hollywood directors and New York hipsters are flocking to their town.
Margate, Kent has recently been heavily featured on a number of ‘cool’ lists, including being listed as having one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in the UK by Time Out.
5Margate is being flooded with ‘cool’ hipstersCredit: Gary Stone5Sam Mendes, Olivia Colman and Toby Jones following a special screening of “Empire of Light” at Dreamland, MargateCredit: Getty5Former wildman Pete Doherty is another famous residentCredit: Frank Leppard/Triangle News5Tracey Emin switches on the neon lights at Dreamland on May 26, 2017Credit: Getty5Local shop worker John Horler says the newcomers are good for the townCredit: Gary StoneAnd the reputation of the town, with its sandy beaches and classic architecture, has been boosted by the new Sam Mendes film, Empire of Light, starring Olivia Colman.
The recent buzz surrounding the town has attracted artists from around the world.
World famous Tracey Emin moved back to the costal hub in 2016 after growing up there.
Meanwhile, Pete Doherty spent much of his musical career in Margate – even opening a studio and hotel in the town.
Robert Diament, director of the Carl Freedman Gallery alongside actor Russel Tovey, told the Guardian that Margate was going “international.”
He added: “Artists are moving from Brooklyn to be here.”
Some have even gone as far as to dub it the UK ‘Ibiza’, according to Tatler.
But now locals are divided over the town’s new ‘hipster’ status.
John Horler, 36, moved to Margate eight years ago from South London and works part-time at the skateboard shop, Skatepark in the town.
He said: “Over the years I’ve been here I’ve really seen it change.
“There’s a lot more opportunities now and there is a really strong, thriving community.
“During the winter it can be a little quiet but it really picks up in the summer.
“It is definitely becoming international. I don’t know too many Americans specifically but lots of artists are attracted to the town.
“The galleries are amazing and there is so much to do here.
“When the skatepark is built, which is expected next year, it will bring even more people down.
“I’d definitely recommend artists and people from round the world who are looking for a place to be more creative to come here.”
Simon Hutchinson co-owns the Big Shot coffee shop located in the old part of the town.
He moved to Margate three years ago from nearby Canterbury and is also enthusiastic about the development in the town.
The 35-year-old said: “I think it’s an amazing town and there’s been lots of progress over the past few years.
“When I was younger Margate had a pretty bad reputation and there was little attractive about it, even for local residents.
“But now there’s so much going. The food in this town is incredible as it has such a wide range of quality restaurants.
“We’ve been open for just over a year now and we seem to be doing alright. It’s hard to gauge anywhere right now, what with the economy and the hangover from covid, but Margate definitely seems to be a town on the up.
“It doesn’t surprise me that more and more people are coming to the town, even Americans.”
But not all the local residents feel so positive about the town.
Robyn Evans, who was born and raised in Margate, was not so sure that the recent hype was justified.
The 27-year-old special needs teaching assistant said: “We hear all these things about Margate being the up and coming place but for locals it’s not the reality.
“Having the filming here was really cool, and we loved the lights, but nothing permanent stayed here. Not keeping the lights was a bad decision.
“The rents are getting too expensive and local people are being priced out of the town. Most the places are bought and turned into AirBNBs. It’s not sustainable at all.
“More Londoners and artists coming here is all well and good but unless they spend their money locally it doesn’t really do us a lot of good.”
Ben Olive, 30, agreed that Margate locals rarely see the benefit of artists making it their new home.
The Home Office worker said: “It’s true that we’ve seen an increase in investment into some parts of the old town but the majority of the town has actively declined recently – especially post pandemic.
“Most the shops in the centre are shut and the money just doesn’t stay in the town. Local people don’t really get anything out of it.
“It was great having Empire of Light filmed here but nothing stayed. The council didn’t even keep the lights which were donated to them.”
Ryan Smith, who works at Margate Book Shop, was able to see both sides of the argument.
The Scottish writer and musician who moved to the town from London three years ago after growing tired of the hectic nature of city life.
The 38-year-old, said that the town has offered him and his partner a substantially better standard of living.
But added that he is sympathetic to local people who feel that the money is not staying in the town.
He said: “I love it here. There’s such a sense of community and the town has such a unique character that it’s no surprise that international artists are attracted to it.
“For people who are tired of city life it offers such a different experience. There’s a lot of culture round here, with the galleries and the live music scene, and it’s a beautiful area.
“It is a very appealing spot for artists and I can see why more and more people are coming here… though it was happening long before Sam Mendes’ new film.
“I definitely understand why local people feel a bit resentful towards some people moving in. Lots of people just buy houses in the town but don’t spend any of there money here, pricing regular people out.
“But then again, when I used to manage a local pub, there would be so many regulars who would say the town has transformed over the last decade of so thanks to people coming in.
“Really if you’re coming here you need to make an effort to become involved with the local community and contribute to the town’s economy.
“I am hopeful for the town’s future because I think it has a wonderful spirit about it which should protect it against the effects of gentrification.”
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk