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A b o u t  t h e  p r o j e c t

In September of 2019 Gustavia agreed with the owners of the property Leas Pavilion and adjacent car parks to bring this project forward. They look forward to work very closely with the Folkestone & Hythe District Council and the various stakeholders in realising the unique restoration of the Leas Pavilion and the development of residential units.

Gustavia has worked very closely with the Council and Heritage England over the last months which resulted in the plans and project to restorate the Leas Pavilion back to its condition of 1902 surrounded by a residential block of approximately 91 units and 39 car parking spaces. 

Hollaway is the architect of the development, represented by Guy Hollaway and Michelle Earnshaw. Hollaway exists since 10 years now and is an architectural and interior design practice that embraces the past, the present and the future;  one that places people and feeling at the core of its philosophy of architecture.


L i v i n g  b y  t h e  s e a

Situated on the English Channel by the white cliffs of Dover, Folkestone has a fine pedestrian promenade and nearby hiking and cycling trails. The portion of the town that overlooks the English Channel is known as the Leas. The pedestrian pathway meanders through a greenbelt along the cliff. Folkestone Harbour is is a peaceful and picturesque destination for residents and visitors. On a clear day, the French coastline can be seen in the distance.

L o c a t i o n

Folkestone is a popular port town in Kent. It is located 33 miles (53km) north east of Hastings, 7 miles (11km) west of Dover and 14 miles (22km) south east of Ashford. The total population within the primary catchment area is 110,000 (source: Promis) and the estimated shopper population is 55,000.

Folkestone benefits from an excellent communications infrastructure:


Folkestone is situated to the south of Junction 13 of the M20 motorway connecting the rest of the national motorway network.


Folkestone benefits from two main railway stations. Folkestone Central and Folkestone West. Both stations provide direct trains to London St Pancras International with a fastest journey time of 50 minutes.


London City Airport is 70 miles (112km) north west of Folkestone and London Gatwick Airport is 73 (117km) miles west of Folkestone.

H i s t o r y

The Leas Pavilion was first opened in 1902 as a tearoom, famously serving soldiers their last cup of tea before being sent off to the frontline. In its 119 year history, the Leas Pavilion has had many different uses; a tearoom, theatre, cinema, pool hall and most recently a nightclub. Since 2010, the Leas Pavilion has been unused and has fallen into a state of disrepair.

Watch the video below to discover more about the history of the Leas Pavilion, and our plans to restore this impressive piece of Folkestone’s past.

N e w s

10 August 2020

Project Update

With the initial consultation period now closed, we wanted to respond to some questions, which you can now read in the FAQs section below.

12 March 2020


It’s been a billiard hall, a club, a theatre and it started life as a tea room. But the Leas Pavilion is now known as an ‘at risk’ building in Kent…

10 March 2020

L e a s  P a v i l i o n

Leas Pavilion Public Consultation Board: The former purpose-built Edwardian tea rooms, later theatre, cafe and nightclub, which has fronted The Leas since 1902, has been deemed one of England’s most endangered historic buildings and ‘at risk of being lost forever’ by the Victorian Society. The proposed scheme is for the complete restoration of the Grade  II listed Leas Pavilion to the original 1902 layout, and for the development of 90 apartments, with associated car parking to the adjacent car park sites…

12 March 2020

F i r s t  l o o k

It’s been a billiard hall, a club, a theatre and it started life as a tea room. But the Leas Pavilion is now known as an ‘at risk’ building in Kent…

Frequently Asked Questions

Gustavia Ltd recently submitted plans to restore the historic Leas Pavilion on the Leas promenade in Folkestone. The Grade-II listed building, which closed its doors in 2010, is sinking further into disrepair.

We are proposing a £4 million restoration, to be funded by a residential development on the same site; our approach has the backing of the Friends of the Leas Pavilion as well.

The Pavilion is a much-loved building locally and, as such, our proposals have generated much interest. With the Council’s initial consultation period having now closed, we wanted to respond to some of the comments that have been made.

We have looked to answer the key questions that have been posed.

In recent years, the Leas Pavilion has fallen into increasing disrepair. This iconic grade II listed building, built in 1902, served as a tea room, theatre, concert hall and nightclub for many years. Since it shut down in 2010, there have been a number of attempts to bring it back into use – all of which have failed.

Our vision is to restore the Leas Pavilion to its 1902 design, delivering a community venue with events space. The capital cost, including site purchase, will be funded by building 91 apartments around and above, whose residents and some community events would then contribute to on going running costs via their service charge.

The Friends of the Leas Pavilion are fully supportive of these plans; indeed, the 1902 design was their recommendation. Historic England has given its backing to the restoration plans as well.

Separate to the planning process, we are keen to ensure that the Pavilion does not deteriorate further. We intend to completely cover the building to make it watertight and increase security, thereby tackling anti-social behaviour, including graffiti and attempts to access the premises. There is an urgent need to cover the Pavilion before next winter.

Could this not be financed through public funds: e.g. the lottery and council money?

For the past 10 years, the Friends of the Leas Pavilion have worked tirelessly and with great determination to raise awareness of the Pavilion’s plight; however, this has not resulted in a secure financial plan to restore the building.

As a result of the current Covid 19 Pandemic, the immediate focus for the government and funding streams is to preserve and save existing functioning performance venues for the creative arts, and unfortunately not to create new ones.

Therefore the building is in desperate need of restoration and with no prospect of a cash injection from any other sources other than this proposal.

A rescue package needs to include funds for the building’s:

  • Purchase
  • Restoration
  • On-going running costs

In our experience with these types of projects, it is often harder to secure revenue costs than the initial capital investment of the project. To sustain a listed performance venue, the on-going costs for long term maintenance can be substantial, but are essential for the Leas Pavilion’s sustainable future. The proceeds from the sale of this built proposal will provide the £4 million capital investments for the restoration, and a separate maintenance agreement will assist with the running costs, ensuring the long term future of the Leas Pavilion. This will be secured by a separate legal S106 agreement which forms a part of this Detailed and Listed Building Planning Application, and will be carefully considered by officers of the council and their legal team.

The restored Pavilion won’t be a ‘proper’ theatre.

Folkestone already benefits from two excellent local theatres varying in size and content: the Quarter House (approx. 250 seated) and the Leas Cliff Hall (approx. 900 seated). We recognise the role these venues play in the town and the proposals seek to complement them, and not compete with them.

The community use of the main hall will provide many more opportunities for local groups to utilise the historic building for what is envisaged to be intimate theatrical or musical performances – in the round or a traditional theatrical setting, a space to rehearse performances that may play at the Leas Cliff Hall or Quarter House, as well as spoken word recitals, or weekly clubs.

We had intensive communication with Historic England and the Conservation Officer in regard to the restoration of the building. On the basis of these talks, we discussed the layout and use with the Friends of the Leas Pavilion, and it was agreed to restore the building to the 1902 layout, providing a multifunctional space.

We believe that flexibility and daily use by the residents is the key to a successful sustainable future for the Leas Pavilion.

Surely the noise from the Pavilion will result in conflict
with the residents above?

We are in the great position of being able to start ‘from scratch’. Noise complaints of this nature most often result from a poorly insulated old theatre or club, whereas we can install high-quality acoustic insulation from the outset.

Also, there is a physical separation already between the Leas Pavilion roof and the residential apartments above.

While the residential leases will contain a covenant preventing vexatious complaints, we simply will not be in a position to sell the apartments without the right acoustics in place.

We have engaged with specialist acoustic consultants who have produced a report which forms part of the application.

The residential apartment building will dominate the neighbourhood.

There has always been a strong linear frontage to the Leas and there are a number of large buildings along the coast road, such as The Metropole, The Grand and No.1 The Leas. Our proposed scheme restores the strong frontage and fills in the gaps created when the two hotels and residential buildings adjacent to the Leas Pavilion were destroyed during the 1990s.

The Grand and Metropole are examples of local buildings that have endured due to their architecture. In the same vein we would like to create a contemporary building of design merit and quality of materiality that will last the test of time. Great consideration has been given to the design and form of the building, we have created a crescent shaped design around the Leas Pavilion and upper floors tiering back to reduce the visual impact, and help the building sit comfortably within its location. The townscape assessment, submitted by respected townscape consultants, Lloyd Bore, concludes that in almost every respect, our plans bring beneficial change to the townscape.

The Leas Pavilion is in a state of disrepair and is on the Buildings at Risk register, and as such its restoration will be a significant cost at £4 million. As this cost is going to be met from the development in its entirety, the viability consultants have assessed the proposed quantum of development and concluded that this is an appropriate level of development to meet this funding need.

  • We are restoring an iconic listed building and bringing it back into public use;
  • We are introducing high-quality architecture that responds to the Conservation Area setting;
  • We are reconstructing a damaged townscape, removing surface car parks and filling an unattractive gap.

The design tends to overwhelm the Pavilion.

Historic England has reviewed our plans and has no objection on heritage grounds. It considers the proposals to be a sensitive scheme which will enhance the Pavilion’s significance and that a regenerated building will once again make a positive contribution to the local community.

The new building seeks not to overpower the Pavilion: its symmetry and the way in which it is angled away from the Pavilion only serves to accentuate the importance and place of this historic venue at its heart. The ground-floor terracotta-coloured stone plinth emphasises this further, allowing more of a street presence of the Leas Pavilion which was designed as a sunken two storey building.

Is there enough parking within the proposed development, and will this not exacerbate local parking issues?

We had thought that the site’s location, and the excellent local transport network and facilities, would provide an ideal opportunity to deliver a real alternative to residents using private cars. Local car ownership is less than 0.5 cars per dwelling, according to census data.

Submitted revised plans with a further lower ground floor of parking utilising a car lift, has increased the number of proposed residents’ parking spaces from 39 to 66 spaces. Each space will have an electric vehicle charging point and there will be two shared electric cars to be utilised by the residents. There will also be spaces for 91 cycles.

This site is located in an extremely sustainable location in the town centre, it is in walking distance to many amenities including Folkestone Central Train Station, bus stops, the High Street, supermarkets, the beach and the Harbour Arm.

How can we guarantee that the Pavilion will be brought back into community use?

The S106 agreement that will be signed will define the community use for the building. While some events would be chargeable, it is the intention to ensure a number of weekly events and activities, which would be open to the community. Heads of Terms, to which the Council and the Friends of the Leas Pavilion are parties along with ourselves, are in the process of being agreed with the Council.

What’s in it for the community?

We believe that our proposals will generate a number of
benefits for the local community, these include:

  • A restored Pavilion at a cost of £4 million, with on-going contribution secured to annual running costs;
  • A state-of-the-art community venue providing the latest technologies with regards to sound and acoustics, including storage for a demountable stage, chair storage, presentation space for the Leas Pavilion Archive and archive storage room;
  • Public access to a much-loved and valued heritage asset, including access for people with mobility issues;
  • Job creation which, after the pandemic, will be very important for the local economy through construction companies and subcontractors. We estimate that approximately 420 direct and indirect jobs will be created;
  • We are using a brownfield site to deliver new homes;
  • Development of a derelict site will help to generate an uplift in local property values.

c o n t a c t

Reservations are now open.