News: June 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

Tuesday, 29 June 2004

The Save Dreamland Campaign appears at the Public Inquiry into the future of the Dreamland site, held at Thanet District Council offices. Independent Inspector Mr Nicholas Hammans, appointed by the Government to hear objections to the Local Plan, heard evidence from Campaign Leader, Nick Laister. Laister explained that since the Local Plan policy had been changed - following late representations from the site's owner - amusement park operators had not been able to acquire the site as the new policy had effectively "priced them out of the market". Laister explained the importance of Dreamland to Margate's economy, and called on the Council to reinstate the policy which protected Dreamland. Laister reminded the council that millions of pounds of investment had been promised by operators - including Southend's Adventure Island Theme Park - in major new rides and attractions for the park.

Let battle commence: Nick Laister, Susan Marsh and David Collard outside Thanet District Council offices representing the Save Dreamland Campaign at the Public Inquiry.

Laister also severely criticised the Council for the handling of the Margate Masterplan consultation, particularly regarding the future of the Scenic Railway, and pointed to a recent letter from English Heritage, which criticises the council for "misleading" the public on the future of the listed ride.

Thanet District Council was cross-examined by the Campaign's advocate, Susan Marsh MBE. Under cross-examination, the Council admitted that they had no evidence that Dreamland was not viable.

The Inspector's Report is expected later in the year.

Nick Laister was a guest on Good Morning Kent with John Warnett, BBC Radio Kent's breakfast show. Nick explained that Margate has so far experienced one of its worst seasons on record - its first without Dreamland since the Second World War. On a brighter note, he reminded listeners that Dreamland would be opening on 3rd July 2004 for a two month period.

Nick Laister and Susan Marsh were both interviewed at the public inquiry by Meridian Television.

The Thanet Times reports that Thanet District Council has abandoned its plans to bring a fun fair into Margate now that Dreamland has reopened. Speaking to the Times, Tourism Chief, Cllr Roger Latchford, said: "We welcome the fact that there will be a fun fair in Margate."

Monday, 28 June 2004

Campaign Leader Nick Laister is interviewed by Invicta FM and KMFM about tomorrow's public inquiry. Nick told the two local radio stations that the Campaign will be presenting evidence to the inquiry showing that Dreamland is viable, and that more than one operator is hoping to acquire the site. This cannot happen unless the Local Plan policy is changed. The new policy has created 'hope value', meaning that amusement park operators cannot compete with retail, leisure and residential land values.

Sunday, 27 June 2004

'It's decision day for Dreamland's future' is the headline on page 3 of today's Kent on Sunday newspaper. The article states:

"The fate of an historic theme park containing the UK's oldest roller coaster could be sealed within days. Campaigners will tell a public inquiry hearing on Tuesday that they believe that Margate's Dreamland Pleasure Park still has a future as a tourist attraction."

The article quotes Campaign Leader Nick Laister, who says:

"This inquiry is of critical importance to Margate as it could well decide the future of Dreamland. If we can get the policy changed to how it was before January last year, then Dreamland can almost certainly be saved."

The Campaign's inquiry advocate, Susan Marsh, told the newspaper:

"We are working with several established amusement park operators who would like to acquire the site and invest millions of pounds in new rides and attractions".

A spokesperson for the Council told the newspaper:

"We are not unreceptive. The council has certainly met with two would-be operators, but we are not the owners of the land so we can't verify how many have shown interest."


Friday, 25 June 2004

News of the forthcoming Public Inquiry into the future of Dreamland is covered by international amusement industry online magazine Highway Games. Their report can be found by clicking here.

The Isle of Thanet Extra newspaper carries several news items about Dreamland. The front page features a headline interview with Nigel Barker, of English Heritage, who tells the newspaper that consideration must be given to the survival of the Scenic Railway, a Grade II listed structure. Barker told the newspaper:

"The destruction of historic buildings is very seldom necessary for reasons of good planning and more often it is the result of a failure to incorporate them into a new development. The Secretaries of State would not expect consent for demolition to be given simply because of redevelopment economics."

The newspaper also includes news of Dreamland's reopening on 3rd July, with a quote from Local Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery, who told the newspaper:

"While Dreamland's reopening is very good news we shouldn't set any store by this for its future prospects. Hopefully business in the town can return to the kind of level we might usually expect at this time of year."

To read Save Dreamland Campaign's press update on current campaign developments, click here.

Sunday, 20 June 2004

Local Campaign Co-ordinator Sarah Vickery did a 20 minute interview on BBC Radio Kent this afternoon with Jonathan Witchell. Sarah talked about Dreamland's re-opening, and urged everyone to be there on 3 July. She also gave a general Campaign update, with particular reference to the Inquiry on 29 June. Sarah told Witchell that, while she is obviously chuffed that the park is opening - albeit for only eight weeks - she was not popping any corks just yet!

Saturday, 19 June 2004

With the Public Inquiry into the future of Dreamland fast approaching on 29 June 2004, the Save Dreamland Campaign has made Nick Laister's full Proof of Evidence available to download from the website. This document sets out the full case of the Save Dreamland Campaign for saving Dreamland and was submitted to the Council in April 2004. The Inquiry session on Dreamland opens at 10am on 29 June 2004 at the Council Offices and the session is open to the public. Click here to go to the Campaign's Thanet Local Plan page, where the Nick Laister's Proof can be downloaded.

Friday, 11 June 2004

Campaign Leader Nick Laister is interviewed on Good Morning Kent with John Warnett on BBC Radio Kent. Nick discussed the news that Dreamland is to open for 2004 and also what the Campaign has planned for the coming months. Nick provided information on the operators - including Southend's Adventure Island - who are interested in acquiring the park and investing millions of pounds in new rides and attractions along with a general park upgrade. Nick pointed out to John Warnett that the fact that David Wallis, who operated the park last year, is back again for 2004 is evidence that the park is viable. Nick also called on Thanet District Council to protect Margate's most famous tourist attraction by reinstating the Local Plan policy.

Local Campaign Co-ordinator Sarah Vickery is interviewed by BBC Television's South East Today, which ran a news item on Dreamland re-opening. Sarah said: "I am looking forward to a few weeks of business as usual, it having been rather quiet here so far this season." The news about Dreamland's two month reprieve was tied in with the other positive news that Ramsgate is getting its passenger ferry service back.

BBC News Online also carried a report of the news of Dreamland reopening, although the story carried a few inaccuracies: BBC News Report.

Wednesday, 9 June 2004

The Save Dreamland Campaign has been informed by the Thanet Gazette that Dreamland is to open in 2004. The park will open on 3rd July and will remain open throughout the summer season. The park will be run by David Wallis, who successfully operated the park as a concessionaire last year. Dave Wallis will also be operating the Scenic Railway, which will be having its annual maintenance carried out over the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, 5 June 2004

We have added a new Photo Gallery to the website. Taken by regular Dreamland visitor Barry Cox, the new gallery shows the changing face of Dreamland from the 1960s to the 1980s. See rides like the Paratrooper, Sphinx, Sky Wheel and Octopus. Click here for the new Photo Gallery.

Click here for a list of all our Photo Galleries. And don't forget, you can discuss Dreamland of the past as well as the future in our Save Dreamland Forum.