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.
Click here for the latest news
Dreamland has received extensive coverage over
the past couple of weeks in the amusement park industry trade journals.
World's Fair newspaper featured a long article two weeks ago on the listed
building demolition applications and another feature last week on the Local Plan
policy for Dreamland. In addition, theme park trade magazine Park World
featured a report on Dreamland and the positive inspector's report under
the headline 'Dreamland must remain an amusement park'.
Dreamland was back on the front page of yesterday's Isle of
Thanet Gazette, as the newspaper launched 'The Great Dreamland Debate'.
The newspaper has published a questionnaire which can be
completed and returned in the post. Questions include: "Do you think the whole
Dreamland site should be kept as a theme park?"; "Do you think Thanet council is
wrong to consider other uses apart from a theme park?"; and "Do you think people
campaigning to save Dreamland are living in the past?"
The questionnaire can be completed online at the newspaper's
www.ickent.co.uk/debate. Plus you can also post your views on a new
Dreamland message board at the same web address.
Two articles on Dreamland appear in the Thanet Extra,
as the backlash against the Conservative councillors gains momentum.
On Page 7, the Extra reports that the Thanet District Council
Labour group is now jumping on board the campaign to save Dreamland.
Today's Thanet Times includes a
detailed report of the recent council vote on Dreamland, along with comments
from some members of the public.
The following comments from the public accompanied today's article :
Annabel Lucas, 20, from Margate said : " I think a theme park should be
given a chance, a decent park could make a success. Building houses
would make money for Margate in the short term but I think a theme park
would make more money in the long term."
Alex Vara de Ray, 36, from Broadstairs said : " Thanet doesn't need any
more houses, the Dreamland site should definitely not have houses built
on it. The site has a great heritage as a theme park and I believe a new
park would work if it is given a decent chance."
Mick Minster, 58, from Margate said : " Margate is changing, the people
that used to enjoy Dreamland don't come here anymore so I don't think a
theme park would work. I don't think we need any more houses but if
houses are built they would see and make money for Margate."
The backlash against Thanet District Council
has begun. From Friday's Extra:
Rollercoaster ride for Dreamland plans
Not amused: Campaigners
angry at council's stance over amusement park
Margate fudge is on the menu for Dreamland, say campaigners angered at
Thanet Council's plans for the site.
A Government inspector has ruled that Dreamland should remain an
amusement park, in contrast to TDC's Local Plan. However, the council does
not have to abide by this and its plan to partially disagree has already
come under fire.
Sarah Vickery, who runs Margate's Shell Grotto and is part of the Save
Dreamland Campaign, said: "It is a fudge. They have done this so it seems as
if they have listened to the inspector so as to lessen the chance of it
getting called in.
"The thing that runs through the document is that they don't seem to
think Dreamland is viable, when we have letters from amusement park owners
saying it is."
The suggestion of TDC's strategic planning manager, which went before
full council yesterday, says: "Policy supports investment in the site as an
amusement park and continuation of such use if viable and sustainable."
However, it goes on: "If the amusement park is found not to be viable and
sustainable then alternative leisure uses will be explored. A residential
development may also be appropriate on the site."
It also agrees that some retail can be built at Dreamland and says a new
road must be driven round the back to take traffic on [sic] Marine Terrace.
In a letter to councillors, Nick Laister of the Save Dreamland Campaign,
points out: "How can the council realistically expect the amusement park to
have any hope of remaining under Option C [the chosen option], where the
carrot of redevelopment is dangled in front of the owner?"
And this from today's Kent on Sunday:
Dreamland's future still in the balance
AT LEAST some of the site
of Dreamland Pleasure Park will be kept for leisure use, councillors have
But Thanet District Council revealed that may not necessarily mean the
historic Margate site will remain a theme park.
In November, an independent planning inspector recommended that Dreamland
should be saved, along with its Grade Two-listed rollercoaster, the Scenic
However, following a meeting on Thursday night, Cllr John Kirby, Thanet
council’s cabinet member for development, said it may not be "realistic" to
keep an amusement park.
And he said councillors might eventually decide that the land would be
better developed in "other ways".
He said: "We have taken on board the inspector's comments that specific
proposals need to be set out in the Local Plan for this site, which will
mean that everyone is clear about exactly what type of development will be
"What is clear is that the council does want to see Dreamland remaining
in leisure use, whilst providing a year-round destination for both our
residents and our visitors."
But Cllr Kirby added: "We need to be realistic. We are aiming to put in
place a policy that allows the site’s potential to be maximised. If it can
be proved that an amusement park will not be viable, then we have to look at
other ways to get the best from this site.
"There is no timeframe up for discussion, but what we have always said is
that we do not want Dreamland to become derelict - it is too important to
the future of Margate and the future of Thanet as a whole. We are not
prepared to accept development of any kind -filling the site with homes or
shops is not acceptable.
"We want to see a leisure use on the site and one that can benefit the
whole area by drawing people in. That may well prove to be an amusement
park, but this policy gives us the opportunity to look at other potential
leisure uses if that does not prove to be sustainable."
Dave Collard, of the Save Dreamland Campaign, said he was not surprised
by the outcome of the council meeting, but was confident the site would
remain a theme park.
"It’s not really a huge blow," he said on Friday. "There’s still a lot of
steps that can be taken. It’s a shame the issue wasn’t resolved last night,
but this has been going on for three years now and it's far from over."
Friday, 20 January 2006
Thanet District Council has taken the very
disappointing step of rejecting the recommendations of the independent
government inspector, who had stated that Dreamland must be protected. Following
a close vote at last night's 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
The Council officer presented three options
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
Option C: To partially reject the Inspector's recommendations, allowing
Dreamland to be redeveloped if an amusement park is not viable.
Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery attended
the Inquiry with a sizeable group of Campaign supporters:
"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
"However, we now have the public consultation period and the Campaign will also
be working to get this decision called in by the Secretary of State."
The revised policy for Dreamland
will be published shortly, and everybody will get six weeks to comment on it.
"There was an opportunity to clear
up the uncertainty last night, but the Council - or, to be more accurate, our
ruling Conservative group - chose not to take it."
Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, says
that there is still a lot to fight for:
"Clearly it is very disappointing
that the Council chose not to listen to either its own residents and businesses
- who had overwhelmingly voted to retain Dreamland - or to the recommendations
of the independent government inspector. I know that I have received a large
volume of messages from local people who feel very let down by the Council,
particularly the Conservative group. This is one of the most blatant examples I
have seen of a council ignoring the results of its own consultations, especially
where the views of those who got involved in the consultations were entirely backed up by an
"Because the Council is changing
the policy, it cannot be adopted without further public consultation. I am sure that,
with the backing of the Inspector's Report, many people will now want to make
their views known.
"I am afraid that the Policy that
the Council is now pressing ahead with leaves us with all the uncertainty that
the Inspector had been so critical of. From the quotes in the media, it appears
that this does not concern several Conservative councillors. 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.
"I know that our members feel very
betrayed. We will most definitely fight on!"
The news is covered on the
Today's Gazette made reference to
last night's Dreamland vote.
As anticipation builds for Thursday evening's
council vote on Dreamland, the Thanet Times provides a preview of the
Councillors at Thanet District Council are
being asked to reject the Local Plan Inquiry Inspector's recommendations
on Dreamland, which stated that the amusement park must be retained.
The Save Dreamland Campaign celebrated on 17
November 2005, when the independent government inspector decided that Dreamland
must remain an amusement park and the Scenic Railway should be protected.
Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, explains:
"The Inspector had heard our evidence at the
Public Inquiry in June 2004, and that of the Council. We were objecting to the
Council changing the Local Plan policy for Dreamland from one which protected
the site to one which allowed it to be redeveloped (a change they made after a
private meeting with 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. In his report, the Inspector accepted every single
one of the points we made at the Inquiry and rejected virtually every point made
by the Council and the site’s owner."
To read a summary of the Inspector’s Report,
or the whole report itself, click
Nick Laister continues:
"Unfortunately, as I pointed out at the
time, the Inspector’s Report is not binding on the Council. The Council can
decide to reject the Inspector’s recommendations if it wishes. Clearly, we all
hoped that the Council would accept the recommendations, especially after so
many people objected to the Council’s last-minute change to the Local Plan.
Well, the big day has now arrived, where councillors have to decide."
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
Nick Laister explains:
"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. This is despite what the Inspector said (that Dreamland is the
biggest attraction in the area; that its problems are down to management; that
other operators are seriously interested in taking it on; that the Council’s
policy has resulted in the owner’s aspirations for redevelopment to be
unrealistically increased; that the Scenic Railway is an “extraordinary
building” and should be protected; that only an amusement park can preserve its
setting; and that the policy should be changed to protect the amusement park)."
For some reason, the Council has not placed
the officer's report on its website. We have therefore made it available
ourselves. The report is
split into three parts (all Microsoft Word format):
Nick Laister continues:
"I am, of course, extremely disappointed by
this report. I have drafted a letter from the Save Dreamland Campaign, which I
am going to send to each councillor. You can view my letter by
If any local members are unhappy about this
and want to see the Inspector’s recommendations accepted by the Council, you can
write to your councillor and tell him or her what you think about this. All of
Thanet’s district councillors should be attending this meeting. Their contact
details are here
(some have email addresses). You should let your local councillor know what you
think. If you don't know which councillor represents your ward,
click here. Alternatively you can inform the Council Leader (Sandy Ezekiel) or the
Cabinet Member with responsibility for planning (John Kirby) of your views.
The councillors representing Margate Central, where Dreamland is located, are
This week's Thanet Extra carries a half-page story about the proposed
demolitions on the site.
The Save Dreamland Campaign today issued a letter
to Thanet District Council objecting to the applications for listed
building and conservation area consent to demolish several buildings at
Dreamland. The letter can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking
here. You can also keep up-to-date with
any current or future applications on our new
Lots of coverage for Dreamland in today's
Thanet Gazette. From the Front Page:
Dreamland : You decide
The owners of the Dreamland fun park in Margate have pledged to ask
local people what they think should happen to the site in a public
consultation this year. The Margate Town Centre Development Company has
lodged plans with Thanet council to demolish some of the old buildings
on the seafront plot. Managing director Toby Hunter said they were still
in negotiation over the fun park's future and that it would open again
The main article:
Rollercoasters to return to revamped Dreamland
A refurbished cinema, a new theme park operator and a walkway to the
seafront are all planned for Margate's Dreamland site. Owners the Margate
Town Centre Regeneration Company Limited (MTRCL) also plan a major public
consultation to learn from residents and visitors what they would like to
see at the landmark plot.
It has submitted five applications to Thanet
council to demolish buildings there, but chairman Toby Hunter insists this
is not the beginning of the end for the tourist attraction. Instead the "redundant" buildings will free up more space at the site to help turn it
into a desirable destination for the town.
The site is owned by MTRCL and
its controlling company Waterbridge. They want to knock down Belgrave House,
which was used as offices, and the former Bualuang Thai restaurant, both in
Belgrave Road. Three buildings, including a former amusement arcade
connected to the Scenic Railway, are also favourites for demolition. The
council is keen to keep at least two buildings which it deems are of
architectural and historic interest, but has no objection to the other three
Despite the demolition work, Mr Hunter insists he has no firm plans
for the main site, which MTRCL took over in May last year. Documents
relating to the applications show the group hopes it can be used for a "mix
of traditional and innovative uses", and to provide a "new leisure
destination in Margate", to remain open beyond the traditional summer
season. Last year it submitted a "master brief" to the council outlining
what form that could take, but Mr Hunter said that was never intended to be
the definitive scheme. No firm plans will be drawn up until the results of a
public consultation, due to start in March, are known.
He said: "We thought
we would have a discussion with the town. We intend to talk to locals and
tourists, standing on the streets with clipboards. I have people writing
to me saying "I think Dreamland would make a world-class tennis centre.
think it will be great to get people's views so when we go to the council we
are not submitting some out-of-the-area developer's plan."
for the site include protecting the Scenic Railway and the cinema. Last year
there were doubts over the twin-screen's future after operator Reeltime
Cinemas warned its lease may not be renewed. It has continued running the
cinema after negotiating a lower rent and is in talks with MTRCL about
refurbishing it. Plans include reducing the 700-seater capacity by
installing new seats to create more legroom, at a cost of £200,000.
needs total refurbishing, we've got to make sure we've got a viable scheme
there. It is not as comfortable as it could be," Mr Hunter said.
He is also
in discussions with "a couple of parties" about running Dreamland as a fun
park for the next three years, starting this summer. Last year, Essex-based
showman Harry Ayers ran it. Mr Hunter hopes a different operator can be
found to run it this summer, with longer opening hours.
"The theme park will
definitely be open in some form", he promised.
Visitors will be able to park
in an extended pay-and-display car park off Belgrave Road. A short cut to
the beach will be created, through the empty site of the former Mr G's
arcade in Marine Terrace which burnt down in 2003. There are no plans at
present to rebuild on the site.
From the Page 6
It's vital to join Dreamland talks
If there's anything guaranteed to provoke a row. it's discussions over
the landmark Dreamland site in Margate. There are those who remember its
glory days as the town's flagship attraction and wish to see a return to
those heady times. There are those who say the clock can't be turned
back and the way forward is to use the site for a modern development to
suit modern visitors. Whatever their view, many have strong opinions. So
it is good news Dreamland's owners seem to be prepared to listen. For
too many years there have been questions over its future. If local
people are able to have their say on what that may be, that can only be
a good thing. We at the Gazette cannot be the only ones who welcome the
Let us hope owners Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd and
controlling company Waterbridge are not just making the right noises,
but will ultimately make the right decision for the town and its
Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister,
"It is good to see all this coverage about
Dreamland and I hope that our members will continue to get involved in the
ongoing debate. I am, however, surprised that the Gazette has not acknowledged
the position of most of the members of the Save Dreamland Campaign in this
debate. This Campaign is not about wanting to return to Dreamland's "glory
days", as the Gazette calls it. Nor is it about wanting to see a "modern
development to suit modern visitors" (whatever that may mean). This Campaign is
about removing all of this uncertainty and seeing Dreamland flourish as an
up-to-date, attractive family amusement park that will attract people to the
town from across the region. It is about regenerating Margate in a way that has
been so successful elsewhere. It is not about houses or shops or sports centres,
developments that will not attract people to the town."
"And whilst I believe consultation is a good
thing, I think that people can have too much of it. I think that, where
Dreamland is concerned, we might be reaching consultation overload. We have been
consulted over the use of Dreamland as part of the Local Plan consultation
(which is the correct forum to consult people over land uses). That resulted in
a huge number of responses, overwhelmingly asking for Dreamland to be protected
as an amusement park. This has recently been sanctioned by an independent
inspector. There was also the recent consultation into the Margate Masterplan.
More responses were received about Dreamland than any other issue in the plan,
and again the vast majority were asking for Dreamland to remain an amusement
"As far as I am concerned, the consultation is
now over. So many hundreds of people have made it clear what they want to see.
Over and over again. What people now want is action, not more consultation. It
is now in the hands of the Council to ensure that the Local Plan is modified in
the way that the people of Thanet, its visitors and an independent Inspector
have all asked for. Then Margate can start looking to the future again."
Some further media coverage for the Inspector's
Report. ACE News Now is the online newspaper of the American Coaster
Enthusiasts, who report the following:
Good News For Scenic Railway and Dreamland
The historic seaside park in Margate, Kent, in the UK has
been handed an important victory in its struggle to remain standing and
operating. An independent government inspector has rejected the
recommendation of the Thanet Council, which had previously ruled that the
Dreamland site should be completely redeveloped. Citing the Grade II listing
(the equivalent of historic landmark status in the US) of the Scenic
Railway, the oldest roller coaster in the United Kingdom, and that of other
structures in the park, an order to cease the implementation of
redevelopment plans was issued. This turn of events can be credited in large
part to the work of the Save Dreamland Campaign, headed by historian Nick
Laister. Demolition had in fact begun on some of Dreamland's non-listed
structures in early November, but has since stopped pending the next step in
what will hopefully be a successful preservation effort. While the order is
temporary and non-binding, as the Thanet Council could choose to go against
the recommendation, public awareness and support have greatly increased over
the last several months thanks to the efforts of the Campaign and much
positive media coverage. More news on Dreamland will appear as it is
Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd (MTCRC),
the owner of Dreamland Fun Park, has submitted applications to Thanet District
Council for the demolition of five buildings in Dreamland.
Three applications for listed building consent
have been submitted. These are for: the 'Park Amusements' building (formerly the
buffet, pictured top right); the 'Bungalow' (formerly a toilet block, pictured
bottom right); and the 'Top Sub Station' (adjacent to the Bungalow). Two
applications for conservation area consent have been submitted. These are for:
the former restaurant, 11-14 Belgrave Road; and Belgrave House. Both are
adjacent to the Belgrave Road entrance to Dreamland.
Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said:
Under threat: Click on above images for larger
"Park Amusements, the Bungalow and the
Sub-Station are all listed buildings because they fall within the curtilage of
the Scenic Railway and were built before 1948. That is why listed building
applications have been submitted for their demolition. However, I am surprised
that MTCRC has submitted these applications at this early stage, before the
future of the site has been decided. The Adopted Thanet Local Plan states that
there has to be a 'special overriding justification' for the demolition of a
listed building. The only justification they have given is to assist with
short-term management of the site, which can hardly be considered overriding."
"National listed buildings policy in PPG15 also requires that
efforts are made to incorporate the building into any redevelopment plans. As we
don't have any plans yet, I cannot see how this requirement can be met. In
addition, very few of the other 'tests' in PPG15 have been undertaken, so I
don't see how Thanet District Council could grant listed building consent."
"We also now have the Inspector's Report into the Revised
Thanet Local Plan. This states that the site must remain an amusement park.
These buildings may well be required in the future as part of a regenerated
Dreamland. It would be unwise to allow them to be demolished at this stage."
"The two other buildings are not really part of the park, but
stand on the perimeter of the property and fall within the Conservation Area.
The Thanet Local Plan clearly states that the Council will only consider
granting consent for demolition where there are acceptable and detailed plans
for the redevelopment. This is clearly not the case here."
"It may well be that in future, when plans for the revamped
amusement park are finalised, some or even all of these buildings may be
demolished (although I would be very sorry to see the Park Amusements building
go, as it is of architectural and historic interest and worthy of a listing on
its own merits). The main point is that we simply do not know at this stage. I hope that these applications
are therefore refused."
The applications and supporting information can be downloaded
Just type "Dreamland" into the Street Name search box. The five applications are
all dated 29 December 2005. Once you have opened the Case File, you can view the
application forms, plans, supporting statement and photographs. You can also
make representations to the Council by clicking the "Comment on the Application"
If you have any questions regarding these applications, email
Nick Laister, who
will do his best to help.