PRESS RELEASE: 20 February 2006
As another round of public consultation on the future of Dreamland begins, the Save Dreamland Campaign will be taking to the streets of Margate to hear local people’s views.
Campaigners will be asking whether Thanet District Council was right to reject the independent government inspector’s recommendation that Dreamland should be protected. And they will ensure that townspeople’s voices are heard by the council.
Thanet District Council had changed the policy in its Local Plan from one that protects Dreamland to one that allows the site to be redeveloped. Following a public inquiry, a government inspector decided that the Council was wrong and that it should change the Thanet Local Plan to ensure the important visitor attraction is protected for future generations to enjoy. The Inspector’s opinion backed up the views of the vast majority of those who made representations to the Local Plan. Unfortunately, following a vote last month, the Council has decided to reject the Inspector’s recommendations and press ahead with a policy that allows some or all of the site to be redeveloped for other uses.
Margate-based Sarah Vickery, Coordinator of the Save Dreamland Campaign, has expressed her disappointment that the Council has chosen to ignore the outcome of the public inquiry:
“Of course, I am very disappointed that the Council has chosen to proceed with their plans to replace the town’s most visited tourist attraction with other forms of development, even when an independent government inspector has strongly criticised their approach. But what baffles me is why they are also going directly against the wishes of the people and businesses of Margate. Previous consultations have shown that the vast majority of people here want to see Dreamland protected in the Local Plan.
“We were delighted that the independent inspector confirmed our view that the Dreamland Amusement Park is massively important to Margate’s economy and that the Local Plan should ensure it is protected. He, quite rightly, stated that any policy that allows for redevelopment of the site – such as the one now proposed by Thanet District Council – effectively means the end for Dreamland. The Inspector said what we always knew was the case: that amusement park operators cannot compete with developers of retail, housing and commercial leisure.”
Southend-based amusement park operator, Stockvale Ltd, has confirmed that it is willing to acquire Dreamland at full, independently-assessed, market value as an amusement park. The Company, which owns the 1.5 million-visitors-a-year Adventure Island Family Theme Park, has pledged an initial £10m investment on new rides and attractions for Dreamland.
Sarah continues: “If the Council adopts this policy allowing for the redevelopment of Dreamland (and therefore – as the Inspector pointed out – higher land values), there can be absolutely no prospect of a serious investment in the amusement park. The best we can hope for is a temporary travelling fair.
“I am afraid that Council’s current policy leaves us with all the uncertainty that the Inspector had been so critical of. We expect that large numbers of our members will be objecting to this policy.”
The Proposed Modifications to the Thanet Local Plan can be viewed on a special page on the Thanet District Council website:
Comments on the Proposed Modifications – either supporting or objecting – can also be made on the above web page. The deadline for comments is 31 March.
To organise interviews, please contact Nick Laister (Campaign Leader) on 01235 838214 (day), 07778 207036 (mobile) or 01235 762186 (evenings and weekends) or Sarah Vickery (Campaign Coordinator) on 01843 220008 (day) or 07990 998688 (mobile). Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about the Save Dreamland Campaign visit the campaign’s website at www.savedreamland.co.uk. Nick Laister’s Proof of Evidence to the Public Inquiry and the Inspector’s Report on Dreamland can both be downloaded from the website.
Information for Editors
The Save Dreamland Campaign was launched in 2003 to save the Dreamland Pleasure Park, Margate, home of the UK’s oldest roller coaster, the 86-year-old listed Scenic Railway. Dreamland’s owner proposes to replace the park with shops and houses. The Campaign is led by planning expert Nick Laister, a planning consultant and a leading authority on the British theme park industry. The Campaign is now speaking on behalf of 13,000 people, including local residents, businesses and organisations such as the Margate Historical Society, Margate Civic Society, the Margate Hotel and Guest House Association, European Coaster Club, Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain and SAVE Britain’s Heritage.
The official campaign website is www.savedreamland.co.uk. The campaign can be emailed at email@example.com. The address for all correspondence is Save Dreamland Campaign, The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate, Kent CT9 2BU.
The Public Inquiry into the Thanet Local Plan opened on 14 April 2004. Two Inspectors (Mr Harold Stephens and Mr Nicholas Hammans) were appointed to conduct the Inquiry. The future of Dreamland was considered on 29 June 2004 at the Council Offices, Margate.
Nick Laister BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI MIHT MIPI gave evidence at the Inquiry on behalf of the Campaign. He is a leading authority on the amusement park industry and editor of the web site www.joylandbooks.com. He is a Chartered Town Planner and Planning Director at RPS Planning, the UK’s largest planning consultancy, where he specialises in planning for tourism and leisure. He has been involved in bringing forward numerous major developments across the UK, and has appeared as expert witness at several public inquiries and hearings. He has written articles for a number of newspapers and journals and has been invited to speak at conferences on the subject of planning for tourism and leisure. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Vickery owns and runs the Grade 1 listed Shell Grotto in Margate, a popular tourist attraction with shop, museum and cafe attached. She is on the Board of Margate arts group Limbo, is a member of Margate Town Partnership’s Marketing Group, writes for the local magazine Isle and has been Vice-Chair of the Isle of Thanet Tourism Association and Chair of the Thanet Contemporary Arts Festival. She moved to Margate with her family in 2001 to take over the Grotto which she has known and loved since childhood. Before this Sarah was a journalist specialising in arts and travel, writing for a range of magazines and newspapers and editing books. email@example.com
Dreamland Pleasure Park is located at Belgrave Road, Margate. The telephone number is 01843 227011. The park is now owned by Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd, the majority shareholder of which is Newbury-based Waterbridge Group.
Nick Laister’s Proof of Evidence can be downloaded in full from www.savedreamland.co.uk.
The full Inspector’s Report can be downloaded from the Thanet District Council website: www.thanet.gov.uk.
The Tourism Chapter, in which Dreamland is considered, can be downloaded from here: http://www.thanet.gov.uk/assets/pdfs/LocalPlan/Local%20Plan_Inspectors%20report_1105/Chapter8-Tourism-FinalVersion.pdf
(The Inspector’s conclusions are in paragraphs 59 to 107).