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Margate_Lear_Front3-1024x720 Picture postcards frequently do not accurately portray a resort and many would have said that in the case of Margate, that is a good thing. In the recent past Margate has earned a reputation for being a particularly run down and desolate resort

Yesterday was my first visit. I cycled the twenty odd miles along the coast from Whitstable. The objective for the day was to experience one of the more famous cycle coastal cycle routes and also to see an exhibition. Neither disappointed and both were fine examples of how a fading resort can regenerate itself into a sought after destination

Approaching Margate from the west entails passing possibly the worst and most run down beach front building in the country. Upon arriving you are greeted by a seafront which makes Blackpool look classy and is overshadowed by a grey and fairly run down Tower block. Not a good start but its only the start. The object of my visit looms around the sweep of the small bay and the Turner contemporary does not disappoint. Exceptionally busy but still a comfortable space for an excellent Grayson Perry retrospective. The gallery is a triumph.

And then you start to take in the surroundings. The remarkable old town is close by and the harbour sweeps round giving great views of that famously big sky so revered by artists

Art is Margates future. Strangely the straightforward Seaside fun resort does sit easily with the bohemian shops, small galleries and craft beer bars. Neither has been sacrificed for the other and it makes for an intriguing mix.

The beauty of Margate is that it is as if it has woken from a crisis of confidence and realised that as a destination it has a lot to offer. This brought to mind how and why destinations need to market themselves.

Specialisation is key. Cycling and visual art have never been more popular so Margate is in a very good place but there is a fine balance to the mix. You would not wish to see the weird and wonderful second hand shops replaced by chains and nor would you really wish to see the amusement arcades all turned into galleries.

It also brought to mind that even an enthusiast for the free market such as myself has to acknowledge that planning and controls are vital. Would private enterprise have built the Turner gallery and maintained free entry? How would the wonderful old town look if many of those strange shops were turned into Tescos or kebab takeaways? Who would have invested in the superbly signposted and quite stunning cycle route?

There is still work to be done of course but judging by the vibe and crowds yesterday, the place is most certainly succeeding where others struggle. I will be back

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