Objections to the Revised Thanet Local Plan

On 9 May 2003, the Save Dreamland Campaign formally objected to the proposed changes to the Isle of Thanet Local Plan. The Campaign then appeared at the Local Plan Inquiry, which was a resounding success, with the Inquiry Inspector accepting all of the points made by the Save Dreamland Campaign. This page will keep you up-to-date with the roller coaster that is the Thanet Local Plan policy on Dreamland.

Our Representations (May 2003)

In May 2003, the Campaign submitted its formal objections to the Revised Thanet Local Plan. These set out the Campaign's case for reinstating the original policy, which protected Dreamland as one of the town's most important assets. The document, including appendices, can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking below. (Note: You will need Acrobat Reader to view these documents. Acrobat Reader can be downloaded free of charge from the Adobe website by clicking here).

Nick Laister's Proof of Evidence (April 2004)

Nick Laister appeared at the Thanet Local Plan Inquiry at 10am on 29 June 2004. In April 2004, he issued a Proof of Evidence, which sets out in detail the Save Dreamland Campaign's case for the retention of Dreamland. This can be downloaded in PDF format below.

Proof of Evidence of Nick Laister BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI MIPI MIHT


Main Proof of Evidence (270 KB)


Appendix 1: Not available
Appendix 2a (part one): Photographs of Southend's Adventure Island (704 KB)
Appendix 2a (part two): Photographs of Southend's Adventure Island (474 KB)

Appendix 2b: Photographs of Dreamland coming soon.

Appendix 3: Dreamland - Comparable Sites (4 KB)

Appendix 4: Request for Spot Listing of the Scenic Railway Roller Coaster, Dreamland, Margate (May 2001) (312 KB)

Appendix 5: Not available

Appendix 6: Not available

Appendix 7: Not available

Appendix 8: Not available

Appendix 9: Letter from the Save Dreamland Campaign to Thanet District Council dated 12 February 2003 (169 KB)

Appendix 10: Letter from the Save Dreamland Campaign to Thanet District Council dated 3 March 2003 (125 KB)

Appendix 11: Not available

Appendix 12: Letter from the Save Dreamland Campaign to Thanet District Council dated 10 March 2003 (93 KB)

Appendix 13: Not available

Appendix 14: Not available

Appendix 15: Letter from the Save Dreamland Campaign to Thanet District Council dated 9 April 2004 (131 KB)

Appendix 16: Margate Masterplan: Comments of the Save Dreamland Campaign (April 2004) (84 KB)


Summary Proof of Evidence (90 KB)



Inspector's Report (November 2005)

The Inspector's Report into the Thanet Local Plan Inquiry was released on 17 November 2005. Independent Government inspector Mr Harold Stephens BA MPhil DipTP MRTPI stated that Dreamland should remain an amusement park and the listed Scenic Railway roller coaster at its centre should be protected.

This recommendation is contained in the long-awaited Inspector’s Report on the Thanet Local Plan Public Inquiry. The Inquiry, held in June 2004, heard evidence from the Save Dreamland Campaign, which had objected to the Council’s U-turn on protecting Dreamland. Until January 2003, Thanet District Council was committed to retaining Dreamland. But, following representations made by the site’s owner in early 2003 (after the statutory deadline for representations to the Local Plan had expired), they changed the Local Plan Policy so that it would allow Dreamland to be completely redeveloped. The Save Dreamland Campaign vigorously objected to this U-turn at the Inquiry.  

Today’s verdict is fantastic news, and shows that the position the Campaign took against the Council was a robust one. The independent Inspector has accepted every single one of the points we made at the Public Inquiry and has rejected virtually every point made by the Council and the site’s owner. The Council had maintained that Dreamland was no longer viable and were happy to allow the site to be redeveloped for other uses. The Inspector found the evidence of the Save Dreamland Campaign to be compelling and has asked the Council to change the Local Plan to ensure the protection of the amusement park.

The Campaign is delighted that the Inspector asked for the Scenic Railway to be retained. He described the Scenic Railway as an “extraordinary building” and was satisfied that it would be viable, even as a stand-alone attraction. Importantly, however, he stated that the setting of the Scenic Railway must also be conserved. He said that this will prevent the site from being used for anything other than an amusement park.

Note, however, that this Inspector’s Report has been written under the old regulations, meaning that it is not binding. (Future inspectors’ reports will be binding, under the 2004 Act). We will therefore be watching the Council very closely, to ensure that it makes the appropriate modifications to the Local Plan.

Some highlights from the Report (with page numbers in brackets):

He therefore concluded that the site should remain designated as an amusement park. He asked for the original policy to be reinstated (as we had requested), but he also asked for it to be strengthened further by various changes. Most importantly for us, because the Inspector’s view is that policy in PPG15 (listed buildings) is a major constraint, he has asked for the Scenic Railway to be specifically mentioned in the supporting text, stating that it should be retained. As we had requested, the policy allows a limited part of the site to be redeveloped, but only if the proceeds go into investment in the amusement park to secure its future – this would be secured by a legal agreement.

If you would like to read the Inspector’s Report on Dreamland for yourself, it can be downloaded from here. (The Inspector’s conclusions on Dreamland are in paragraphs 59 to 107).

Planning Manager's Report to Full Council (January 2006)

The above Inspector’s Report is not binding on the Council. The Council can decide to reject the Inspector’s recommendations if it wishes.

Councillors will be discussing the Inspector’s recommendations on Dreamland at an Extraordinary Council Meeting at 7.30pm on 19 January. They will then take a vote on whether to accept or reject the Inspector’s recommendations.

The Planning Policy Manager's report to this council meeting has now been published. In this report, the Planning Policy Manager has recommended that the council partially rejects the Inspector’s recommendations. The officer describes the Inspector as "naïve" and he also states that he believes that Dreamland is no longer viable. He thinks that to protect Dreamland as an amusement park would be a missed opportunity. The report is split into three parts (all Microsoft Word format):

The Save Dreamland Campaign has issued a letter to all councillors formally responding to this report. Click here to view it (PDF format).

Meeting of Full Council (19 January 2006)

Thanet District Council has rejected the recommendations of the independent government inspector, who had stated that Dreamland must remain an amusement park. Following a close vote at the 19 January meeting at the Council's Cecil Street offices, Thanet District Council is now pressing ahead with a Local Plan policy that will allow for Dreamland to be redeveloped.

Following the strong conclusions of the Inspector's Report, published in November 2005, campaigners had hoped and expected that Thanet District Council would change its Local Plan policy to protect Dreamland in the same way that other councils do with their major tourist attractions.

The Council officer presented three options to councillors:

Option A: To reject the Inspector's recommendations and adopt the policy as it stood.
Option B: To accept the Inspector's recommendations and change the policy to protect Dreamland.
Option C: To partially reject the Inspector's recommendations, allowing Dreamland to be redeveloped if an amusement park is not viable.

The Labour group, in its entirety, voted in favour of Option B. The Conservative group voted for Option C. And as the Conservatives hold the sway of power here - just! - that means Option C was adopted.

The Policy that the Council is now pressing ahead with leaves the town with all the uncertainty that the Inspector had been so critical of. With the policy allowing for the redevelopment of Dreamland (and therefore - as the Inspector pointed out - higher land values), there can now be absolutely no prospect of a serious investment in the amusement park. The sort of investment that has been offered by established UK and European park operators will need a long-term commitment in the site. I am afraid that the Council must now accept that the best they can expect is a travelling fair pulling onto the site for a season or two, before other forms of development are allowed onto the site. With this policy, the Conservative group will be virtually wiping out any prospect of a major visitor attraction for Margate in the future.

The revised policy for Dreamland will be published shortly, and everybody will get six weeks to comment on it.

Proposed Modifications (February 2006)

The revised policy was published in February for a six-week consultation period. The closing date for comments is 31 March 2006. Details on how to object are here.

In the public consultation on the Proposed Modifications, there were a total of 452 representations submitted and, of those, all but ten related to the Dreamland site. Almost all wanted the site to remain an amusement park with the Scenic Railway retained. The policy was amended to strengthen its requirement for Dreamland to remain an amusement park and exceptionally allowing the redevelopment of a limited part of the site if it secured an operating amusement park on most of the site.

Planning Brief (September 2007)

New planning guidance has been developed by Thanet District Council for the Dreamland and Arlington Square sites. It sets out proposed future uses for this key site in Margate and the Council is looking for your views on its proposals.

This brief proposes a mixed use scheme, keeping the majority of the site, including the Dreamland building and Scenic Railway as part of an amusement based destination.  It also states that development proposals should meet the following criteria:

To download the brief in full, click here. To view the summary brief on the Council's website, click here.

To tell the Council what you think of the brief, click here. Please note that comments must be received no later than 19 October 2007.

Planning Brief Adoption (December 2007)

The Brief was approved at Cabinet on 11 December and can be downloaded as a PDF document by clicking here. It will now form one of the main considerations for future planning applications.

Return to Save Dreamland

Return to Joyland Books: for the biggest selection of amusement park books on the Web!