Thanet District Council's Response to Local Plan Objections

On 9 May 2003, the Save Dreamland Campaign formally objected to the proposed changes to the Isle of Thanet Local Plan. Click here to read our objections. In August 2003, Thanet District Council published its draft responses to the objections. The full Schedule of Responses can be found by clicking here. Below is our summary of the highlights:

Policy T11 (Dreamland) received by far the greatest number of objections of any policy in the Plan. The Schedule summarises the objections of the Save Dreamland Campaign and the many other people who objected to this policy independently of the Campaign. These objections referred to the importance of Dreamland as a tourist attraction; evidence on its viability; interest expressed by amusement park operators in operating the park and the Scenic Railway; the fact that part of the site could be redeveloped and that this would be an opportunity to secure the park's enhancement and upgrade. The objections proposed a replacement policy, similar to the one that the Council agreed on following the previous public consultation, but replaced following the recent policy U-turn. Reference was also made by objectors to other successful seaside amusement parks, such as Southend's Adventure Island. Objectors also noted the difference in retail and leisure (which serve local people) and tourist attractions (which attract visitors to a town). Many references were also made to the importance of retaining the Scenic Railway.

The Council responded: 


"Dreamland is a key site for the future of Margate. In recent years investment has not been made within the site or surrounding areas that would enable it to enhance its role and fulfil (sic) its potential as a major tourist attraction. In order to encourage investment on the site, Policy T11 and Paragraph 8.50 have been rewritten to be more flexible about possible uses to ensure that appropriate opportunities for the future of the site are not lost. There is some concern that if the local plan policy is too prescriptive, acceptable investment and development will be discouraged, resulting in the site remaining undeveloped in the long-term and becoming an ‘eyesore’. 


The new policy does not preclude the continued use of the site as an amusement park. 


However it is considered that there is a significant opportunity at Dreamland to provide a major leisure/tourist facility to boost the economic wellbeing, vitality and urban character of Margate. A limited amount of housing and retail development, complementary to the leisure/tourism development, may be considered appropriate providing it meets the tests set out in the policy.


With regards to the listed scenic railway, policies relating to listed buildings are included within the Heritage chapter of the local plan, and these together with national guidelines must be fully considered if any proposals for the redevelopment of the area around the scenic railway are brought forward. In view of these, there is no need to add further prescriptive policies within the Local Plan.


Consultants have been appointed to carry out a study of Margate seafront and the Dreamland site will form one of the key elements within the overall strategy. The revised policy sets out the important issues and criteria that would need to be considered in respect of any proposals for the redevelopment of Dreamland, and it would be inappropriate to make changes to that policy until the full outcome of the Masterplan study has been received and assessed The Masterplan study will be completed prior to the opening of the Local Plan inquiry and it is anticipated that this will be submitted as evidence to the inquiry."


The Council proposes no change to the policy as a result of the representations by the Save Dreamland Campaign and other objectors.


Stadium Developments Ltd, the company which proposes to redevelop the Dreamland site, also made representations to Policy T11. Stadium objected to the Council's "preference for Dreamland to continue to provide a core retail leisure facility to underpin the holiday destination that is Margate." Their justification for this is that the "existing amusement park is currently run-down and does little to contribute to Margate's town centre or it's (sic) surrounding environment in physical terms." They ask that the Local Plan be more flexible in terms of land uses that will contribute towards the long-term well-being of Margate's economy. They ask for the site to be allocated for a comprehensive scheme of mixed use including retail and leisure development. They also ask that the core centre of Margate be extended to include the Dreamland site and be identified in the local plan for new retail development. They ask for the Proposals Map to identify the existing Dreamland Amusement Park to accommodate future town centre expansion.


The Council's response to Stadium's objection is:


"A strategy is already in place to reverse the outflow of expenditure to Canterbury and other destinations and there is planning consent for a new town centre. Allocations under TC2-TC5 address the problem. It is considered that there is no merit in extending the town centre to include Dreamland as PPG6 states at Annex B paragraph 6 that when defining primary and secondary frontages to town centres it must be realistic. An extension to include Dreamland as a major retail allocation would be inappropriate and detract from the core commercial town centre rather than enhancing it.


Dreamland is a key site for the future of Margate. Dreamland is not a retail destination, although a limited amount of complimentary retail development would not be considered inappropriate within the overall site. Dreamland has provided a significant opportunity to provide a major leisure/tourist facility to boost the economy of Margate with emphasis on tourism and leisure with complimentary retail facilities, rather than predominantly retail uses."


The Council proposes no change to the policy as a result of Stadium Developments' objections.


Also of interest to Save Dreamland Campaign members is the 'Town Centres' section of the Schedule. Stadium Developments Ltd objected to the sentence in the Plan stating that Thanet does not need any further major foodstore provision in the near future, effectively confirming their intention to develop a supermarket on the Dreamland site. The Council, however, stated that no further major foodstores are required and no change is proposed to the Plan.


In the 'Town Centres' Chapter, Stadium Developments Ltd also suggest that Margate's core shopping area should be extended by allocating new land for retail development. They suggest the Dreamland site and ask that the Plan be amended to state that "the decline of Thanet's town centres would be reversed by extending Margate's town centre and allocation of a new retail development at the existing Dreamland site." The Council's response to this suggestion is to state that there is no need for this additional retail area and that it would detract from the core commercial town centre rather than enhancing it. They propose no change.


Elsewhere, Stadium object to Policy TC7. They suggest an additional policy be inserted into the Thanet Local Plan, to state:


"The District Council wishes to encourage a holistic approach to regeneration through the encouragement of proposals to redevelop the existing Dreamland Amusement Park for retail and leisure uses in order to address the District's loss of expenditure to other centres outside of the District. As a result the Proposals Map identifies the existing Dreamland Amusement Park to accommodate future town centre expansion".


The Council's response is:


"A retail strategy is already in place to reverse the outflow of expenditure to other destinations. In terms of town centre uses leisure is more appropriate at the Dreamland site than retail due to the distinct separation of the site from the existing core retail areas, additionally there are topographical constraints to take into account when considering this site as edge of centre. Leisure uses are supported at Dreamland under Policy T11 and it is considered that this use is more appropriate and akin to the surrounding seafront area."

The Council's draft response to objections to the Local Plan will be considered by the Policy Development Panel on 3rd September 2003, before going to Cabinet on 16th October and Full Council on 23rd October.

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