News: December 2007

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.

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Friday, 28 December 2007

Over 200 people have given their views on Thanet District Council's vision for the Dreamland and Arlington Square sites. Local residents, interest groups, Council partners and the owners of the site were asked to give their views on a Planning Brief which has been created to give guidance to future developers when they submit planning applications for the site. 

Feedback from the public showed that 65% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the Planning Brief overall.  There was strong support for keeping the Scenic Railway (over 92% of respondents want it retained - the strongest support for any part of the Brief!), keeping more than 50% of the site as an amusement park (88%),  and for the Dreamland Cinema building to be kept for leisure uses (86%).

There was less support for associated enabling development, including family homes and apartments, with 55% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with this idea. However, Planning Managers have explained that this type of development is needed to fund the provision and operation of a high quality amusement park in the future and, in response to these concerns from local people, the brief has now been amended to explain this fully. To view the results online, click here.

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader Nick Laister comments:

"The results of this public consultation demonstrate yet again that local residents and businesses want to see an amusement park at Dreamland, set around the Scenic Railway. This is consistent with all the other numerous consultations that have taken place over the past four years and show that people are not giving up.

"Over 92% of respondents want the Scenic Railway retained - the strongest support for any part of the Brief"

"The Council also appears to have listened to the Campaign's requests. I issued a letter to Thanet District Council in response to the Brief setting out the Campaign's main comments [click here to download the letter as a PDF file]. The Council has amended the Brief in several places to take into account our comments. They have:
  • Made reference to the definition of an 'amusement park' and the rationale for including the Cinema building within this definition;
  • They have clarified the status given to Margate Masterplan, as we thought that the Brief did not make it clear that this document has little or no status and that it was heavily criticised;
  • They have removed most of the ambiguity relating to 'amusement park' and 'tourist destination', as we were concerned that other non-amusement park uses should not be allowed to creep into the 51% amusement park area;
  • Reference is now made to the need to secure the amusement park site when it is closed;
  • Clarification that the 51% amusement park area excludes the car park;
  • Clarification that only ancillary retail will be permitted within the amusement park;
  • Reference to the fact that additional retail and leisure on the remaining land would be subject to sequential and viability tests;
  • Clarification relating to the section 106 funding priority to maintain the viable amusement park, to ensure that the funding is made available by the developer to rebuild Dreamland, and that this would be a priority call on resources over and above affordable housing, in line with the Local Plan policy; and
  • Addition of Save Dreamland to list of consultees.

"The remainder of the consultation analysis makes for interesting reading. Both Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd and Ticketcard Ltd asked for the 51% amusement park requirement to be applied more flexibly and/or removed altogether, but the Council has decided to maintain this requirement and indeed to strengthen it further by clarifying that certain uses would fall outside the amusement park use. We are therefore very pleased with the outcome of the consultation."

The Brief was approved at Cabinet on 11 December and can be downloaded as a PDF document by clicking here. It will now form one of the main considerations for future planning applications.

The Planning Brief has been covered in the local press in the run-up to the Christmas period. The Isle of Thanet Gazette on 7 December had a short report. This was followed by a further report in the same newspaper on 21 December.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A big update today, to catch up on all the news of the past few weeks.

Firstly, an update on the Water Chute appeal. Back in October, the Save Dreamland Campaign funded the dismantling and transport of key parts of the world's last surviving water chute. The rescue of the ride was covered in the Your Thanet newspaper.

In October, we made an appeal for funds to help us pay the £2,000 bill for contractors and transport. Secretary of the Dreamland Trust, Susan Marsh, is very pleased with the response:

"We can now confirm that the amount raised so far is a magnificent £1,195.50. A final push to reach £1,500 should cover all the costs for now.

"We have to say a special thank you to L E Jones Ltd, Hauliers of Ruthin, North Wales (especially Dave and Jack), to Jed Hopkinson and his men of  B L Hopkinson Constructional Engineering Ltd and to the Leader and Officers of Thanet District Council. Without all their kindness, help and understanding we would not have achieved this rescue within a budget we could contemplate and the timescale we had."

The ride is now safely in storage in Thanet.

Susan Marsh adds: "This was a new experience for me and I had to make arrangements with rather too many unknowns, such as what there was, where it was, how long it would take to get out and even, for a while, where it was going. Yet everyone went out of their way to help and make it happen despite, in the case of the hauliers, not even knowing us. They do now! Everyone went that extra mile and we are grateful to them. This really was a case of the Campaign, contractors and the local authority all working together.”

Above: Your Thanet report on the Water Chute rescue.

"This is an expensive time of year for everybody but  if you are able to help now or have a little left at New Year we would appreciate it."

Cheques should be made out to “The Save Dreamland Trust” and sent to us at The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate, Kent CT9 2BU or, email Sarah Vickery at and she'll send you Paypal details.

And news of another of the world's handful of surviving scenic railways. Luna Park in Melbourne is to refurbish its iconic Scenic Railway, the only wooden roller coaster of its kind in Australia. The Scenic Railway, built in 1911, was the main attraction at Melbourne’s Luna Park when it opened in 1912 and is now heritage listed with the National Trust. Sections of track are to be refurbished and restored following subsidence of the structure. A life-sized mural is also being produced for the station building. Click here for the full press release.

Finally, can the campaign team wish everyone a Happy Christmas. Our clickable Christmas message comes courtesy of Susan Marsh: Happy Christmas from the Save Dreamland Campaign!

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