News: October 2004

In  January 2003 the owner of Dreamland, Jimmy Godden, announced the closure of Dreamland. The park is to be redeveloped as "leisure boxes, some retail and a supermarket". Joyland Books will provide updates on the campaign to save Dreamland and its internationally-important Scenic Railway ride.

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Saturday, 9 October 2004

There has been much discussion about reports appearing in the Southend Echo over the past few days regarding the outcome of the Local Plan Inquiry and Philip Miller's bid for Dreamland. Here are the facts:

  • The Inspector's report of the Thanet Local Plan Inquiry has not yet been received and isn't expected for some time.

  • Philip Miller, the owner of Southend-on-Sea's massively successful Adventure Island Theme Park, made an offer for Dreamland some time ago, which was refused. Miller continues to be interested in the acquisition of Dreamland and is in regular contact with the Save Dreamland Campaign. Should he be successful in any future bids, we will report it here immediately.

The confusion seems to relate to the councils report on the public consultation on the Margate Masterplan earlier in the year. The Council report - which was issued in August 2004 - stated that the future of Dreamland "understandably generated the most passionate responses". The report goes on to state:

"The public sees the Dreamland site as Margate's key potential tourism/leisure generator, and the closure of the facility is seen as highly negative for the town's future. The clear view from the public was that tourism and leisure should continue to be the strong leading use for the site and that the Council should be steadfast in its opposition to major retail development there. Equally, housing development (particularly low quality development) to an extent which would prevent the site being a major tourism/leisure generator should be avoided."

Dreamland generated more responses than any other question in the Masterplan consultation, attracting over 44% of all responses, "with almost all of them strongly supporting the use of the site for a major amusement park, family-based attraction". Nearly half of the written comments about the Dreamland site concerned the Scenic Railway, which represented nearly 20% of all the written comments received.

The report concluded on Dreamland that: "There was a strong public view that the Council should be highly proactive regarding the future of the Dreamland site and that it should actively seek solutions for it in order to benefit the town's future".

The Council has resolved that the publicís response to the proposals contained in the Masterplan be noted and that officers be authorised to progress the Action Planning process, including further detailed traffic analysis, in order to identify key priorities for delivery and for inclusion in Planning Policy, subject to further public consultation.

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader Nick Laister commented: "There has been much confusion in the press over the way this has been reported since the Council resolved to move forward with the Masterplan on the basis of the public consultation. I hope that the above sets the record straight.

"Despite the fact that the results show overwhelming support for the retention of Dreamland as a family-based tourist attraction, which is what we have been saying all along, this doesn't change the fact that the public consultation was a highly flawed exercise. The report made no mention of the criticism that a large proportion of the respondents (including the Save Dreamland Campaign and English Heritage) made on the misleading nature of the questionnaire. In addition, the Save Dreamland Campaign wrote to the Council on 9 April 2004 asking a number of questions about the Masterplan. We have still received no reply. I am beginning to think that we never will.

"Nevertheless, I am pleased that the public has strongly supported the continuation of Dreamland and firmly rejected retail or residential development on the Dreamland site. This is exactly what we have been telling the Council for almost two years. Given the strength of opinion on this matter, I hope that the Council quickly amends its Local Plan to make it clear that Dreamland shall remain a tourist attraction and that no retail or residential development will be permitted on the site."

 

Friday, 8 October 2004

The Save Dreamland Campaign is featured in the October 2004 issue of Park World, the international amusement park industry magazine, in an article covering the closure of the park for the 2004 season. The article stated:

"Some very vocal 'Save Dreamland' campaigners insist that several other park operators, including Adventure Island in Southend, believe the park still to be viable, but Godden has stated he plans to sell the site to developers. Campaigners and enthusiasts joined together on the night of Saturday 4 September to ride the park's historic Scenic Railway for what could well yet have been one last time."