News: March 2005

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, 30 March 2005

The Save Dreamland Campaign's Vision for a new Dreamland was featured in yesterday's Thanet Times, with a headline 'Fun park campaigners designer dreams'.

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

French theme park industry website has added the story of the Dreamland Concept Plan. The article has been translated into French and can be viewed here.

The news is also covered on the BBC News website, with comments from Jean-Marc Toussaint and Nick Laister.

Nick Laister appeared on BBC Radio Kent this morning discussing the Concept Plan and the effect the new Dreamland could have on Margate's regeneration. He again called on the Council for some clarity on the future use of the site.

Monday, 28 March 2005

The new Concept Plan continues to be covered extensively by the media. It was mentioned this morning on BBC Television's Breakfast News programme. The short feature can be downloaded from here (Windows Media Player file, 3.40 MB).

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, will be a guest on Good Morning Kent with John Warnett on BBC Radio Kent on Tuesday morning. The interview will be at approximately 7.26am.

The Campaign understands that the planned opening date for Dreamland in 2005 is 28 April. As previously reported, the park will be operated for the season by showman Harry Ayers, who has signed a two-year contract with the park's owner.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

The Save Dreamland Campaign, in association with Amusement Illustrations and Designs and Southend's Adventure Island theme park, today launches its Vision for Dreamland. Produced by leading international theme park designer, Jean-Marc Toussaint for the Save Dreamland Campaign, the Concept Plan shows how the park might look if taken over by an established operator, such as Adventure Island. It shows the sort of rides and attractions that may be found in the park in the near future if our Campaign is successful, with pictures of some of the rides. Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said:

"This is an important new step for the Save Dreamland Campaign. We have shown that residents of Margate overwhelmingly want Dreamland to remain. We have shown that visitors also want it to stay. We have even shown that operators want to operate Dreamland. But still Thanet District Council refuses to reinstate their policy of protecting Dreamland."

Nick, like many others in the Save Dreamland Campaign, is well aware of the harm that would result from Dreamland being redeveloped:

"We have therefore now taken the step of having one of the leading theme park designers, Jean-Marc Toussaint, who has worked on numerous theme park projects around the world, to produce a Concept Plan of how Dreamland could look if acquired by an operator such as Adventure Island. The Save Dreamland Campaign has adopted this as our vision for the future of the park. I hope you will agree with me that this vision is exciting. But this can only happen if Thanet District Council formally adopts a policy to protect Dreamland, just like the one they had until 2003. We therefore call on Thanet District Council to take urgent action to protect this most important asset."

This new vision will ensure that the Scenic Railway is restored and is operated within a viable tourist attraction. It will also ensure that Margate retains its position as one of the UK's leading seaside resorts. The Campaign will be presenting these proposals to the Council as part of the consultation into the new Local Development Framework.

Click here to view our new Concept Plan and find out more about our Vision for the park.

Discuss this news story on our Forum

The news is covered in today's Kent on Sunday (click here to download the article as a PDF) and Nick Laister is interviewed by Invicta FM.

Friday, 25 March 2005

A couple of letters appeared in Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazette. The first was from Irene Wooldridge of Ramsgate, who was "utterly appalled" at the news of Dreamland's sale. Her letter stated: "On the front page (Friday March 11) we read Mr Godden has sold Dreamland and he with the purchaser are in dialogue with Thanet Council about the future Mr Godden has for this site. Never mind the people of Margate may not want his input on another prime site. It is most peculiar that the access road to the site could be via the ruins of the old arcade." She went on to state: "I urge you, the residents of Thanet, to rid us of the 'weakest links' on our council at the next elections. Do not allow yourselves to be swayed by party politics, it should have no bearing on the issues we that we are facing today."

There was also a letter from Cllr John Kirby, Cabinet member for strategic planning, which stated: "Your correspondent, Mark Durrant, is wide of the mark when he comments that Dreamland is being sold for shops, flats and a hotel and that the council should be ashamed. The facts are that Dreamland is currently allocated in the Thanet Local Plan as a leisure site with auxiliary retail where this supports the leisure use. No housing is permissible and the council has previously made it clear that it would resist attempts to introduce wider retail uses not linked to leisure. At this stage the council does not know what plans might come forward, but is encouraged that the new owners want to work with us to develop their plans. When plans are submitted the council will publicise widely to enable local people to have their say before a planning decision is made. Finally your correspondent might want to note the extensive public consultation with Margate residents that took place last year on the future of the town. The council will take these views into account when it decides the future for Dreamland."

Last year's "extensive consultation" on the Margate Masterplan, referred to in Cllr Kirby's letter, resulted in overwhelming support for the retention of Dreamland as an amusement park/tourist attraction.


Wednesday, 23 March 2005

This coming Friday's Thanet Extra covers the reopening of Dreamland in an article headlined, 'New lease of life for Dreamland: Park will open for summer'.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

More coverage for Dreamland and the campaign in today's local press. The Thanet Times reported that Dreamland will open for 2005, under the headline 'The showman will go on at fun park'.

The Save Dreamland Campaign is pleased that even Dreamland spokesman Barry Moss is now backing our message that having Dreamland open is "good news for Margate"!

It was also reported in the same newspaper that Jimmy Godden won a planning appeal to open an amusement arcade in Margate High Street after Thanet District Council refused to grant planning permission.

Friday, 18 March 2005

An article about Dreamland appeared in the Thanet Extra newspaper today, under the headline 'Tourist focus for Dreamland site'.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

The Save Dreamland Campaign can exclusively reveal that Dreamland will open for the 2005 season. Following much speculation and rumours, it has been confirmed that Harry Ayers has signed a contract to open the park this year.

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said:

"After all the rumours and speculation, this is the news that we have been waiting for. Harry Ayers called me earlier this evening to confirm that the contracts have finally been signed and the park will open. He will be supplying the Campaign with the exact opening date and ride line-up shortly, but we can already confirm that there will be a 35m big drop tower. I have given Mr Ayers the Campaign's full support. I am sure that all of our members will spread the word and give the park the support it needs this year."

Discuss this news story on our Forum

Sunday, 14 March 2005

Kent on Sunday featured an article about Dreamland on page 5 under the headline 'Pleasure park future uncertain after sale'.

Friday, 11 March 2005

It has been announced today that Dreamland has been sold to a property developer for an undisclosed sum of money. The news was covered by local radio and newspapers today. Save Dreamland Campaign Leader Nick Laister gave several interviews on the Campaign's reaction to the news, stating that it is a case of "business as usual".

The news made the front and back pages of today's Isle of Thanet Gazette.

Nick Laister was interviewed by Invicta FM on the implications of the announcement.

BBC Newsroom South East has reportedly stated this afternoon that Mr Godden has sold his 60 per cent share of the Dreamland site for 20 million.

BBC News online also carries the news report. The interview with the new owner makes it clear that it is very unlikely that the Scenic Railway will be part of their plans:

"The Scenic Railway is listed - whether it is relevant or the most exciting tourist-led attraction we will have to wait and see. We want the site to promote Margate for the future rather than it be retrospective. We just have to see whether the Scenic Railway is too much of a retrospective or whether it is going to promote the right sort of vibe and feeling for the future development".

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said: "The Gazette article states that this deal 'spells the end of the amusement park in the long term'. I am not sure why that is. The site cannot be redeveloped without planning permission from Thanet District Council. The people of Margate, through the recent public consultations, have overwhelmingly shown that they want to retain the site in tourism use, ideally as an amusement park. We also have several established operators who have publicly stated that they would be prepared to acquire the site and invest millions of pounds in new rides and attractions. Residential and retail development will be completely unacceptable on the site. It is a valuable tourist asset and the people of Margate will not see it disappear without a fight. Thanet District Council will be playing a very dangerous game if it does not make this clear to the new owners.

"The new owners seem to have already decided that the Scenic Railway is too 'retrospective' to keep as part of this new development. They need to be reminded that not only is it a listed building, it has been shown to be a profitable attraction even on its own, so under national listed building policy cannot be demolished. However, it does not have to operate on its own - it can operate as part of a major regional amusement park; we have proven this beyond doubt over the past two years. I somehow don't see that restaurants, shops and flats will attract too many visitors to Margate.

"So far Thanet District Council has failed to listen to the views of its residents and provide firm leadership on this matter, so I hope that the Inspector's Report into the Local Plan Inquiry will provide clear guidance.

"The Save Dreamland Campaign calls on Thanet District Council to do what other seaside resorts have done and protect their most important tourist attraction in their local plan. Margate's residents and businesses are fed up of the uncertainty that this council has created for the resort. We need the Council to publicly back Margate as a seaside resort, and we need this backing quickly, so that confidence can return to the town."

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

The Thanet Times carried a small item on Dreamland today, under the headline 'Ready for Thrills', stating: "Dreamland could reopen as early as Easter. Showman Harry Ayres is considering bringing a dozen rides to Margate, including white-knuckle attractions Drop Tower, Top Buzz and the Log Coaster."

The Save Dreamland Campaign is not able to confirm any of the recent newspaper reports.

Saturday, 5 March 2005

This week's Thanet Extra has a news item about Dreamland under the headline: "Deal under way to open Dreamland for summer." The article states:
"Hopes are rising this week that Margate's Dreamland amusement park may be opening for the summer season. It has been rumoured that respected showman Harry Ayers has signed a lease deal with boss Jimmy Godden. However park manager Barry Moss said that negotiations were still under way and that no agreement had yet been finalised."

Friday, 4 March 2005

'Dreamland hopes still riding high: top attractions lined up to thrill' was the headlines in the Thanet Gazette today.

The newspaper also carried a tribute to Save Dreamland Campaign member Jack Holmes, who died recently.

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, was interviewed by BBC Radio Kent. He talked about the next stages for the Campaign, the continued interest of theme park operators in acquiring Dreamland, and the need for Thanet District Council to take positive action to protect their biggest tourist attraction.