News: March 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.

Click here for the latest news

Wednesday 31 March 2004

Local Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery is interviewed by the Isle of Thanet Gazette concerning the news that Dreamland will not be opening this season.

"This is very disappointing news," says Sarah, "but not entirely surprising. While I am concerned about the impact that Dreamland's - temporary! - closure will have on our tourism industry here in Margate I flatly refuse to be downhearted. The Campaign has always focussed on securing a long-term future for Dreamland and that is what we will continue to do. We will also be keeping a very close eye on the Scenic Railway to ensure that the owner fulfils his legal obligation to maintain it properly."

Tuesday 30 March 2004

Local Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery today attended a Margate Masterplan Public Consultation Meeting at the Winter Gardens. Representatives from Thanet District Council and Tibbalds were present to discuss the first draft of the Masterplan document. Sarah comments:

"We were told that plans for the Dreamland site, or Central Development Area as it is referred to in the Masterplan, have been kept deliberately vague because of the uncertainty about the site's future. It has been designated as an area for leisure/tourism/recreation/mixed uses, the mixed referring to housing and retail, which I found alarming. However, we were assured that any housing and retail would be "minimal". Of course, I pointed out that the plan is predicated towards redeveloping the site; worryingly the Tibbalds representative I spoke to was not aware that two amusement park operators have made offers on the site. I also pointed out that Question 5 of the Questionnaire is inexcusably loaded, as well as being misleading; the Scenic cannot be moved so this should not be suggested as an option.

"We all need to make our voices heard on this; if you haven't already filled in the Questionnaire please do so soon, and don't be shy about making additional comments!"

Make your comments on the Council's Margate Masterplan website now by clicking here. The deadline is 13 April 2004.

Saturday, 27 March 2004

Now is your chance to help save the Scenic Railway! Thanet District Council has commenced a period of public consultation on the Margate Masterplan, asking for people's views on the future of the Dreamland site, along with a number of other key sites in the town. One of the questions asked by the Council is whether the Scenic Railway should be retained. Campaign Leader Nick Laister explains how you can help:

"If you feel strongly that the Scenic Railway should be retained, then you must complete the Margate Masterplan questionnaire - this is your chance to have your voice heard. The Questionnaire asks whether the Scenic Railway should be retained, moved off site, or not retained at all."

Laister believes that there is only one option that will secure the Scenic railway for future generations:

"We have undertaken extensive research, including discussions with three of the ride's longest serving brakemen, and this has shown that it is not possible to move the ride. They all confirm that it cannot be moved off-site as most of the wood would need to be ripped out of the ride rendering it impossible to rebuild. We have also searched extensively for another site in the town on which the ride could fit and at which it would could operate as a viable tourist attraction. No other site has been found. And, of course, if it were moved it would no longer be protected by its listed building status. Considering that the Scenic Railway is standing in the middle of a hugely popular and viable amusement park, a park that several operators would like to acquire and invest in, we believe the only option is for it to remain at Dreamland. If you agree with us, tell the Council by completing the Questionnaire."

As Laister explains, many of the Campaign's members have concerns about the Margate Masterplan:

"The Campaign is particularly concerned that the Questionnaire is based on the assumption that Dreamland will be redeveloped, when we consider that the best option for the town is to retain Dreamland. After all, it is the town's biggest tourist attraction and draws hundreds of thousands of people to Margate every year. We know that more than one operator has publicly stated its intention to acquire the site at full market value as an amusement park and to invest millions of pounds in new rides and infrastructure. This will be of much more benefit to Margate than housing, car parking or an area of public space, which are the sort of solutions the Masterplan is suggesting. To discard this option at this early stage, as the Masterplan appears to do, simply beggars belief. Margate deserves more, and we will be writing to Thanet District Council to ask them why this basic research hasn't been undertaken, and why the questionnaire is entirely based on Dreamland being redeveloped. I encourage as many people as possible to complete the Questionnaire and let the Council know your own views on this issue."

For more information on the Margate Masterplan, and to complete the Questionnaire online, click here.


Friday, 12 March 2004

As many members will know, Thanet District Council commissioned consultants TM2 to produce a masterplan for Margate, to include the Dreamland site. The Margate Masterplan Public Consultation period starts on Monday 22 March 2004 and runs until 13 April. For locals, there will be an information trailer in Cecil Square, Margate, open 10am to 3pm, or the documents can be viewed online at Comments can be made via email. The outcome of this masterplanning exercise will be critical to the future of Dreamland and the Scenic Railway and the Campaign will be monitoring it closely. We will provide more information about the Masterplan both on this site and to members who are signed up for the mailing list (email us at to sign up to the campaign mailing list).

Also of interest to campaign members is the Thanet Local Plan Inquiry, which is scheduled to open on 14 April 2004 at the Council Chamber, Cecil Street, Margate. The Save Dreamland Campaign is currently scheduled to appear at the Inquiry at 2pm on Tuesday 29 June 2004. Giving evidence on behalf of the Campaign is Nick Laister, with advocacy for the Campaign by Susan Marsh MBE. Also scheduled to appear at the inquiry the following day to give evidence about Dreamland are Steven Villett (from the Margate Civic Society, and a strong Campaign supporter) and Martin Porter (an active Save Dreamland Campaign member). The Inquiry is a public event, and members can attend if they wish to watch the proceedings. Check back here for more Inquiry news as it breaks.