News: May 2006

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, 30 May 2006

Thanet District Council has refused planning permission for the retention of the industrial-style fencing (pictured, right) that was erected in Dreamland earlier this year without planning permission.

We reported the installation of the fences here. The Council subsequently wrote to the owners of Dreamland - the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC) - asking them to apply for retrospective planning permission (reported here, and again here).

Click here to download the Council's decision notice from UK Planning in PDF format.

Sunday, 28 May 2006

Dreamland's official website for the 2006 season has opened. It includes a list of rides, with photos, opening times, prices and contact details.

Tuesday's Thanet Times included an article on the opening of Dreamland. Friday's Gazette also featured a similar article.

Finally, the mystery photograph below from our new Photo Gallery resulted in a number of responses. Thanks to Iain Aitch, Martin Porter, Mark Blakemore and Kevin James for identifying the ride as the Alice in Wonderland Ride. I also received an email from Mick Tomlinson, which provided some interesting information:

"A few memories these pictures brought back! The pictures of the swans, etc, were the remains of the Alice in Wonderland Ride that was built in the 1960s. I actually helped replace the ride on the site pictured, which was the site of the old dodgem building. It was operated by showman Tommy Nightingale. The ride was moved from its site where the Water Chute was eventually built, to make way for the first Orbiter Ride, brought in by Henry Smith who had other ride concessions in the park."

Monday, 22 May 2006

A new Photo Gallery has been added to the Save Dreamland Campaign website. The idea behind this new gallery is to build a large collection of photographs of Dreamland taken over the years by visitors of You send us your photographs and we add them to the site. It is as simple as that.

Starting the ball rolling are three photographs of Dreamland in the 1970s, taken by Dez Watson, featuring the Miniature Railway and the ride pictured to the right. Click here for the new Photo Gallery.

Email your Dreamland photographs to

Sunday, 21 May 2006

The Save Dreamland Campaign was featured in this weekend's edition of the Thanet Adscene. Rules which will determine the future of Dreamland are to be changed after a vote at a Thanet council meeting last week.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

The Save Dreamland Campaign was featured on the front cover of this week's Thanet Extra, with campaigners welcoming a change of rules for the park's future in the Local Plan.

There was also a small piece in yesterdays Gazette on the attempts of councillor John Kirby to introduce an amendment to the Local Plan (negotiated by the Save Dreamland Campaign earlier that day) at last Thursday's "stormy" council meeting.


Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Essential summer wear for all Campaigners, the new Save Dreamland Campaign t-shirts are out now! These t-shirts are set to become the Margate fashion accessory of summer 2006, and all proceeds will go to the Save Dreamland Trust. T-shirts can be bought securely online by credit card or you can send us a cheque by printing off our order form.

T-shirts cost £10.50 and come in a range of sizes. Click here for more details or to buy your t-shirt. We hope to add more Save Dreamland items to the Campaign Shop, so check back regularly.

Enter the Shop!


In other news, today's Thanet Times also included an item on the Campaign's last-minute deal with Council chiefs to protect the fun park.

Monday, 15 May 2006

Thanet District Council has issued a press release on the new guidelines for the Dreamland site, which were negotiated by the Save Dreamland Campaign last week.

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, was in Margate again today doing a series of interviews on the implications of the Thanet District Council decision. He could be heard on The John Warnett Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Kent as well as a studio interview on KMFM. Nick also spent some time on Margate beach participating in a Channel 4 television documentary on the Scenic Railway. The programme is part of a new series called 'Seaside Secrets', which will devote an entire episode to the listed roller coaster, and will be screened this summer.

Friday, 12 May 2006

Thursday was a busy day for campaigners Nick Laister, Sarah Vickery and Susan Marsh, with a series of meetings taking place in Margate.

The first engagement was lunch with Waterbridge boss Toby Hunter and his architect, Chris Levett at 12 noon. This was followed by a 3pm meeting with senior decision-makers at Thanet District Council. A meeting of the Save Dreamland Trust followed at the Walpole Bay Hotel at 5.30pm. Then it was on to the 7pm public meeting of the Full Council at the Civic Offices, attended by several other members. The day concluded with drinks at the Northern Belle, Margate's oldest pub.

Reports of the key meetings follow:

Meeting with Toby Hunter and Chris Levett:

Toby expressed disappointment with the current state of the park and informed us that he had been hoping for rather more than has been delivered. He confirmed that the Big Wheel is leaving Margate for two weeks in the middle of June, and his expectation is that it will return.

The issue of the fencing was raised, and Hunter advised that its role was to separate off an “events area” where the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd (MTCRC) are hoping to install a corporate entertainment facility, such as paintball, quadbikes or a hovercraft. He stressed that the fencing also served a security purpose, as the site had experienced significant problems with vandalism. However, he added: “I entirely accept that the industrial fencing is at odds with the concept of a family day out.”

Hunter informed us that MTCRC currently have no hard and fast plans for the site. They are keen to establish a “brand” for Margate before proceeding with any such plans. Levett produced some plans  described as a “sacrificial scheme” to encourage the exchange of ideas.

MTCRC does not expect planning permission for development to be sought before late 2007.

Meeting with Sandy Ezekiel (Leader), Richard Samuel (Chief Executive) and John Bunnett (Corporate Director) at Thanet District Council:

Ezekiel reported that he had visited Southend over Easter weekend, although he had not gone into Adventure Island. He expressed some disappointment with the town, and stated that it was not how he saw Margate developing in the future. An official trip to the amusement park is currently planned for the weekend of 3/4 June.

There was much discussion over Policy T11, with SDC representatives arguing its inconsistencies. There was general disagreement between SDC and TDC about the likely effectiveness of the policy currently proposed by the Council, with Ezekiel believing that the Council's preferred policy allows for flexibility at the site. The Campaign strongly believed that the Inspector was right, and that the land values created by this policy would mean the loss of Dreamland. The SDC criticised the Council for lack of certainty and pressed the Council to reveal its own vision for the site in the absence of any clarity in the policy. Ezekiel said that the Council had ideas for the site but could not talk about them at this stage.

The issue of the viability test was raised, and concerns were expressed over its current vagueness. Would it take into account inflated land values? Could a travelling fair be used as a test of viability, as opposed to an amusement park? The Campaign asked the Council to table an amendment at the Full Council meeting allowing for the viability assessment to be clarified, to ensure that the inflated land values are taken into account, although it was made clear that this would not remove the SDC's objections. The officers present agreed to look further at this issue.

Full Council meeting:

Cllr Richard Nicholson, the leader of the Labour group, tabled an amendment that the Planning Inspector’s recommendations in relation to Policy T11 be accepted. The Labour Group voted in favour of this amendment, the Conservative group voted against.

In supporting the unmodified Policy Cllr John Kirby (Conservative) stated: “I have some sympathy with their [Save Dreamland Campaign’s] concerns.” Cllr Kirby then asked for supplementary guidance on what evidence the council will expect in support of a viability test.  Eventually the guidance was agreed as: “in relation to the Dreamland site, elaborating on the viability test and the evidence the council will expect in support of such a test”, this guidance being subject to public consultation and being presented to Full Council at the earliest opportunity.

After much discussion, argument, and some lively heckling, the Conservative Group voted in favour of the unmodified Plan (with additional viability guidance), with the Labour group voting against. Labour councillor Dennis Hart said: “I have no confidence that this Local Plan will deliver a vibrant community in Margate.”

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Following yesterday's news that council officers are advising councillors to reject the results of the public consultation on the future of Dreamland, the Save Dreamland Campaign has issued a letter today to all councillors. Click here to view the letter in full (PDF format) and here to discuss this news in our Forum.

Also on the subject of the consultation, results of the recent survey by Kent Regional Newspapers (who publish the Isle of Thanet Gazette, Times and Adscene) have been submitted to Thanet District Council for them to consider as part of the Local Plan consultation process. The document contains over 150 views on the Dreamland site, the vast majority – once again – in favour of retaining it as an amusement park.

Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery comments: “Having got out onto the streets of Thanet to canvas views, the strength of feeling this document shows doesn’t surprise me at all; it largely reflects the views we heard (although no one called me deluded to my face!). There are obviously very many people in Thanet who feel that the Council are failing them in many ways, not least by ignoring their views. I empathise.”

Here’s a cross section of views, all reproduced exactly as submitted to the Council:

"Forget Turner and use the money to invest in a theme park."

"Dreamland as it is – is a has been. Today children are more sophisticated and want things which are far more challenging."

"Dreamland is the hub of the leisure industry, no hub and the wheel cannot turn."

"I just hope that this bay site will not be allowed to be developed just for ‘profit’ and the town’s needs are put first."

"Margate has a rich heritage as a seaside resort. Use it, do not destroy it."

"The developers stated that they want to see if it is viable over the next few years. Give Dreamland a fair chance and get a decent operator in."

"If we do not stop this now, we will regret it in years to come."

"Just make a decision either way!"

"After 50 years of knowing Margate, it is clearly way past its sell-by date. It is time to move on. Herne Bay is vastly more popular and does not have its ‘Dreamland’! Other resorts such as Westgate, Herne Bay, Whitstable etc, are very popular and these do not have Dreamland. Visitors to our coastal resorts come to enjoy the sea and beaches and facilities such as cafes, shops, restaurants and may be a hotel would encourage this. If people require theme parks, there are already many established venues to cater for them. Improved parking for visitors to Margate beach should be a priority. The whole of Margate seafront took sleazy and dirty with Dreamland and all the amusement arcades being the problem rather than the solution. People campaigning for Dreamland are so deluded if they think it has a place in modern day life. We consider the council to be absolutely right in planning to bring about the demise of Dreamland as it is a total waste of money and valuable space, an absolutely outmoded venue. Dreamland has had its glory days but they are long since gone and it is now time to move on. It just does not appeal anymore, it has been proven by lack of attendance over many years."

"I think Mr Godden bought Dreamland in order to run it down and make more money to add to his millions. He ruins all he touches. Dreamland was Margate and I hope it will be again."

"It would be the worst thing for Margate if shops and flats go on the site. It must be a funfair with leisure activities."

"Thanet District Council should listen to the people of Thanet. The planning department is a shambles."

"The Dreamland site offers a unique opportunity to increase the employment opportunities of Thanet. A funfair will not secure the economic future of Margate."

"I have filled in the form but what good it will do is debatable. The Council ignores residents, look at Turner fiasco."

"Margate has always been famous for its fun park. Let’s make it the best in the South East."

"Margate has been destroyed by Westwood Cross. It is dead, it needs a theme park which will bring in people."

"Thanet is dying a slow death thanks to Thanet District Council. Bring back Dreamland."

"Let’s wake up and do something we can be proud of. Bring the right people to Thanet. This is an issue of finance, not what is good for Margate. If certain parties get their way then the scenic railway will go, a sprawl of ‘yuppie’ homes will appear in it’s place, bleeding dry the poor infrastructure that we already have. Re-built sensibly what an attraction it could be, and think of the money it could bring to the area. Theme the park from the early years of the British holiday, perhaps Victorian times, through to the 60s. The park could be an operational, working, theme park/museum. Look at the crowds that Beamish or Iron Bridge’s Victorian village draw. Look at the success of the Walpole Bay Hotel! The cinema could again be part of the complex, concentrating on the golden age of cinema with daily programmes. What about rebuilding the pier? Let’s think about it and see beyond the end of the developers nose. We could build something which we would be proud of and could be a national success, bringing the people in. Once it is built on, it is too late."

Monday, 8 May 2006

In January this year, Thanet District Council decided to allow the Dreamland site to be either partially or completely redeveloped (in direct conflict with the independent government inspector’s report of 2005 that stated unequivocally that Dreamland must remain an amusement park).

The Council's new policy on Dreamland was included in the 'Proposed Modifications' document, which went out for public consultation for six weeks ending on 31 March. The council’s Proposed Modifications prompted 452 responses. Incredibly, 442 of those responses were concerning Dreamland, and the vast majority of those were objections! Crucially, one of these objections was from English Heritage, who (like the Save Dreamland Campaign) asked for the Inspector's recommendations to be accepted in full.

However, today we have received the bad news. The Strategic Planning Manager at Thanet District Council has issued guidance to councillors advising that they REJECT all the objections and plough ahead with their plans to allow Dreamland to be redeveloped.

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, made the following statement this evening:

"We are extremely disappointed that, yet again, the Council is being asked by its officers to ignore the results of a public consultation exercise. Not only did an independent government inspector say that the Council is wrong, the people of Thanet have also overwhelmingly said exactly the same thing, and in unprecedented numbers.

"In his report, the officer describes the approach of the Inspector and all the hundreds of objectors as 'short-sighted'. The report, which is not currently available on the Council's website, is full of numerous incorrect and misleading statements, and he fails to grasp the key issue of land values (i.e. that it is the Council's own policy that has resulted in the value of the site increasing and pricing amusement park operators out of the market)." 

This matter is due to discussed at a Full Council Meeting THIS THURSDAY, 11 May, 7pm at the Council Chamber, Cecil Square, Margate. The Council will take a vote on whether to accept their officer's recommendations, or whether the policy should be changed. The meeting is open to the public.

Several long-standing Campaign members will be there, including Nick Laister, Sarah Vickery, Susan Marsh and Dave Collard. However, please note that the Local Plan is a fair way down the Agenda for the meeting and we have been advised by the Council that there may be a bit of a wait before Dreamland is discussed, although obviously they cannot give us an exact, or even approximate, time.

Friday, 5 May 2006

A number of Dreamland-related items appear in today's Isle of Thanet Gazette.

Regarding the status of the Dreamland sign (pictured left and right - before and after), Campaign Leader Nick Laister has made the following statement:

"I have received a large number of comments and queries about the removal of the Dreamland sign, which seems to have concerned a large number of people. Removal of the 'Dreamland' sign requires listed building consent as it is an integral part of the design of the building and part of its historic character. The sign was part of the building when it was listed in 1992.

"It is perfectly acceptable to remove the sign to carry out repairs, but these must be carried out within a reasonable period of time. If the sign isn't replaced within a reasonable period of the time, the Council is likely to take action.

"If the sign cannot be repaired a replacement sign must be installed. This can be the same as the one that has been removed, or it can be different. If it is different, listed building consent will be needed.

"Personally, I think it would be fantastic to see the original art deco sign back, but this would need listed building consent."

Discuss the future of the iconic 'Dreamland' sign on our Forum. If you are not already a member of the Forum, click here to join. And if you are not a member of the Save Dreamland Campaign yet, click here.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel, took part in a 'podcast' interview on Thanet Life. Dreamland was discussed at some length. In summary, Ezekiel's main points were:

  • Dreamland is a key site in Margate;

  • The Council has "taken on board" the Inspector's recommendations;

  • He is concerned that there is no visible attraction;

  • The site can only be used for leisure use;

  • He challenges the Inspector's definition of leisure and believes Dreamland can be used for more than just an amusement park;

  • There is no short term solution for Dreamland - it is a "5, 10 to 15 year issue";

  • The Council is not prepared to consider CPO as it does not believe it would be successful;

  • The Council is working with the developer and other "customers" and facilitating meetings with amusement park operators, including Southend.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

A small article on the loss of the listed Dreamland sign appears in today's Thanet Times.

Monday, 1 May 2006

Friday's Thanet Gazette included two items of Dreamland interest, one on the removal of the iconic Dreamland sign and the other on the need for planning permission for the new Big Wheel.