News Archive: January/February 2009

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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Dreamland meeting in royal residence

Susan Marsh and Nick Laister of The Dreamland Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign were again in London yesterday for meetings at the offices of The Princes Trust in Clarence House, the Prince of Wales's official residence. The first meeting, which started at 10am, covered some of the business discussions that have to take place between The Dreamland Trust, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (the owners of Dreamland) and Thanet District Council. The discussions were facilitated by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Susan Marsh, Secretary of the Dreamland Trust, said: “It was a productive meeting as we move forward to making formal grant applications very soon”.

A short break for lunch and the second meeting commenced when many of the consultants working for the Dreamland Client Group had arrived to give preliminary reports on their work to date.

Nick Laister, Chair of The Dreamland Trust, said: "It is exciting to see the architects' first layouts of the Heritage Amusement Park. Initial reports from Locum Consulting on the business plan were also very promising, but there is still much work to be done if we are to meet the tight deadlines for the grant applications."

Nick Laister, Sarah Vickery and Susan Marsh will all be attending a whole series of meetings in Margate during next week and are also preparing for the special evening event ‘I Dream of Dreamland’ on Sunday 15th March when they hope to see supporters of the Campaign.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Dreamland animal cages listed!
We are pleased to announce that the animal cages, which were uncovered last year and once formed part of 'Lord' George Sanger's menagerie, were listed Grade II on 23 February.

Thought to be the only cages of their kind left in this country, the two metre semi-circular cages most likely contained monkeys. The zoo lasted until 1905 – the year Sanger retired – when the remaining animals were sold but was partially restocked in July 1913. When Dreamland was opened in 1920 the grounds were derelict but were restored, although the cages were never returned to use.

I Dream of Dreamland - event announced

We are also able to announce a special evening event in Margate on Sunday 15 March 2009, open to all, at which the proposals for a heritage amusement park at Dreamland will be launched and discussed. Full details of the event - called I Dream of Dreamland - to follow soon. A teaser below - put it in your diaries.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Isle of Thanet Gazette responds to Leader's criticisms

Dreamland featured extensively in the local press this week. In addition to the Leader's Column (reported yesterday), there was coverage in Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazette, including a response to Thanet District Council's Dreamland-free vision for the town.

Friday, 20 February 2009

"Positive progress" made on Heritage Amusement Park proposals

Nick Laister and Susan Marsh attended a Dreamland Client Group meeting at the offices of The Prince's Regeneration Trust in London today. To demonstrate Thanet District Council's commitment to the project, TDC Chief Executive Richard Samuel also attended. Although Toby Hunter of MTCRC was not able to make it in person, he was present for a large part of the meeting on speakerphone from Cornwall. Ross Stewart and Peter Beck represented MTCRC, with Derek Harding representing the Margate Renewal Partnership and Roland Jeffery and Rosie Fraser attending on behalf of the PRT.

Dreamland Trust Chairman Nick Laister said: "This was a very important meeting, where we needed to iron out a number of fundamental issues. I am pleased to say that positive progress was made and I am confident that we will be able to put forward strong applications for grant funding later this year. If we are successful, work building a new amusement park at Dreamland will commence."

Work on the layout of the park continues apace, with a further design workshop proposed for next Friday, 27 February.

Following Sandy Ezekiel's statement of commitment to the Heritage Amusement Park project on 17 February (see below), the Council Leader formally responded to the 10 February article in the Thanet Times in his weekly column in today's Isle of Thanet Gazette:
"Last week I announced my vision for Thanet. Perhaps I should not have been surprised when I read the piece in the Thanet Times highlighting Dreamland.

The headline quote from me, "Let go of the past", was only part of what I said to Thom Morris when asked about the future of the Dreamland site.

Whether it was his editorial bosses or Thom himself who chose to give only half the statement I don’t know. What I can assure all is that the council position is clear. We want to see a heritage park that mirrors no other, is unique and offers the kind of sustainable attraction that Dreamland did in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. I also went on to talk about a sealife centre that we were negotiating with an operator before the recession. Talks are still ongoing. Perhaps the Government could put its resources into this much needed scheme rather than throwing it into the banks."

The proposed Heritage Amusement Park was also covered in Your Thanet.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

"I am 100% behind the project": Sandy Ezekiel, Council Leader

The Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, has given his full support to the proposed Heritage Amusement Park at Dreamland, which is being promoted by The Dreamland Trust. The comments come on the day that the Trust launched its vision for Dreamland in response to comments made by Cllr Ezekiel last week.

Ezekiel contacted the Dreamland Trust today to refute the report in last week's Thanet Times.

"I made it very clear to the reporter that I support the heritage park. With appropriate enabling development, it's absolutely the right way to go. After all, it will be my signature on the funding document, so of course I am 100% behind the project."

He added that he would be "more than happy" to add Dreamland to the council's vision document if that's what the public wants. A draft version goes out to public consultation on 28th February.

Front page news

The Trust's vision was the front page item in today's Thanet Times, backed by a major article inside the newspaper. In the article, based around an interview with Dreamland Trust Treasurer Sarah Vickery, the Trust exclusively announces that work could begin on Dreamland’s revival by the end of the year if a multimillion-pound bid for funding is successful. Sarah explains the reasons for the launch this week:  "We felt we had to release this information now in response to Sandy Ezekiel’s comments, which were unhelpful to say the least."

Sarah told the Times that the project will cost 23 million to turn the former thrillseekers’ paradise into a fully fledged amusement park and its cinema into a music venue. Architects are busy working on the plans which will be revealed before funding bids are submitted in April.

The article goes on to state: "The park could include bumper cars track, a water shoot, sandstorm wheel, ghost train, caterpillar, haunted swing and the return of the river caves. The cinema could become a music venue with the facilities to cut a track, and museum documenting the history of Margate’s teenagers, from punks to rockers.

"Sea Change, a cultural grant scheme, has already given money to the Margate Renewal Partnership to carry out preparatory work for the heritage amusement park and in June will tell the group if it has secured more funding for work to begin."

BBC Radio Kent will also be including the story on their news bulletins tomorrow.

Designing Dreamland

Further progress was made on the layout of the Heritage Amusement Park yesterday when a design workshop was held at the offices of Dreamland's architects Levitt Bernstein. Nick Laister and Susan Marsh represented the Dreamland Trust at the meeting and, with assistance from Paris-based theme park designer Jean-Marc Toussaint and tourism experts Locum Consulting, worked through the rides acquired for the project to assess the space required to deliver a tourist attraction with sufficient critical mass to act as a destination, which can accommodate large numbers of visitors in pleasant landscaped grounds.

Susan Marsh comments that the day was a success: "Whilst the meeting schedule is getting intensive its worth all the travelling as we see our dreams coming to fruition".

Friday, 13 February 2009

The work currently being carried out by Prince's Regeneration Trust on behalf of the Dreamland Trust, Margate Renewal Partnership and Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company features in the PRT's latest newsletter (scroll down to the picture of the Scenic Railway at this link). The project now features on the PRT's main website.

For more information on The Dreamland Trust, which administers the Save Dreamland Campaign, click here.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Nick Laister and Susan Marsh represented the Save Dreamland Campaign/The Dreamland Trust at a Dreamland Client Group meeting in London today. The meeting discussed progress on preparation of to two grant funding applications to be made in April. Margate Renewal Partnership has already received funding from the Government's Sea Change cultural grant scheme, which is part-funding the current feasibility and design work. An application for several million pounds worth of additional funding will be submitted in April by the Dreamland Trust and Thanet District Council, with a decision expected in June.  A further bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund will also be submitted in April with a decision in September. Architects Levitt Bernstein, working with the Campaign's own Jean-Marc Toussaint, are currently preparing a detailed layout for the heritage amusement park. If successful, work on the heritage amusement park should start in 2010 for a 2012 opening.
Caterpillar: One of the rides acquired for the heritage amusement park

 Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel was interviewed in yesterday's Thanet Times. In this interview, Ezekiel appears to speak out against Dreamland: Article

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, says: "We are obviously surprised and disappointed by this statement. We are currently seeking clarification because it is completely at odds with his position at meetings and completely flies in the face of the Council's own adopted Planning Brief for the site. More importantly, such comments could severely undermine the work being carried out by the Margate Renewal Partnership, Council officers and Dreamland's owners in bringing forward a thrilling new amusement park at Dreamland. This is particularly concerning as the various partners in the project (the Council, Margate Renewal Partnership, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company and The Dreamland Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign), supported by consultants (The Prince's Regeneration Trust, Locum Consulting, Jean-Marc Toussaint, Levitt Bernstein Architects) gear up to submitting a bid millions of pounds of grant funding for the world's first heritage amusement park at Dreamland.

Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel: U-Turn?

"How many other Councils would make statements like this only a matter of weeks before an important bid for millions of pounds worth of grant funding is submitted? I hope he carefully considers the consequences of this statement in undermining the efforts of all these organisations and its consequential impact on the regeneration of the town.

"From my own perspective, it will be very disappointing if Mr Ezekiel does not retract these comments, not only because it goes against the wishes of the people of Margate in the various consultation exercises undertaken by the Council over the last few years, but because this U-turn comes at a time when major players in the tourist attractions industry have come forward and expressed their serious interest in operating this exciting 21st century attraction. We await clarification."

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tuesday's Thanet Times included a small news item on the possibility of a museum dedicated to youth cults being located within the Dreamland Cinema.

In other news, the Noble Organisation has applied for planning permission to use the land formerly occupied by Mr G's amusement arcade (43-47 Marine Terrace) as a temporary car park for a period of five years. The gap in the frontage at Marine Terrace was created in April 2003 following a devastating fire which destroyed the arcade and damaged other adjacent buildings. The plot is leased to the Noble Organisation by Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd.

View the covering letter explaining the background to the application.
View planning application form
View site location plan

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Dreamland, Margate: "A Thrilling Theme Park from the Past"

Campaign leader Nick Laister represented the Save Dreamland Campaign and The Dreamland Trust today at a meeting in London with consultants working on a business plan for the proposed Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park. The aim was for all parties to agree a vision for the park, and the listed cinema, and to look at options for the main Dreamland building. Laister opened the meeting with an outline of the Trust's vision for the world's first heritage amusement park, which he described as "a thrilling theme park from the past". Also attending the meeting were representatives from Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, Margate Renewal Partnership, Thanet District Council, The Arts Council, Locum Consulting and architects Levitt Bernstein.

As well as a business plan, more detailed design proposals for the park will emerge over the coming weeks, with the Campaign's theme park designer Jean-Marc Toussaint playing an important role. The work will form the basis of bids for grant funding later this year.

A summary version of the Trust's vision for the park is now available to download from here. Much more information on our proposals can be seen on our special Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park Microsite, including the Concept Plan and details of the acquired rides.

In a flurry of recent meetings, Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery represented the Campaign at a meeting Margate on Tuesday to discuss arrangements for stakeholder consultations in Margate. Susan Marsh represented the Campaign, alongside Derek Harding of the Margate Renewal Partnership and Nick Dermott of Thanet District Council, at a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund on Wednesday.

In other news, discussions continue in the attempts by Thanet District Council to bring a summer funfair to Margate.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazette carried a small news item on the likely lack of a summer funfair on Dreamland.

Meanwhile there has been a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity over the past few weeks. Sarah Vickery represented the Campaign on a 7 January 2009 site visit to Dreamland with the Princes Regeneration Trust and Locum Consulting. The two consultancies are advising Margate Renewal Partnership, the Dreamland Trust and Margate Town Centre Regeneration Partnership on the feasibility of the heritage amusement park proposals as part of various bids for possible grant funding. The aim of the meeting was to familiarise the consultants with the park and the two main listed structures. Sarah and Susan Marsh represented the Trust/Campaign at a further meeting at Locum's offices in London on 22 January.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Peter Wilson has contacted the campaign to tell us about a booklet which tells the railway life of his Grandfather, Edward Cuckney. Called Edward (Ted) Thomas Cuckney: A Distinguished Railway Career - Mainline & Miniature, the booklet features the miniature railways of Margate Pier & Harbour Co Ltd and Dreamland Amusement Park. Click on the image to the right for a larger version of the cover.

If the booklets are purchased directly from Peter, he will donate 1.00 for each copy sold to the Campaign. The booklets cost 3.75 each, including UK postage and packing. Please send a cheque, payable to P Wilson, to:

Peter Wilson, 6 Sea View Road, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 1BX.

Don't forget to mention the Save Dreamland Campaign to ensure that we receive the donation.

Newspaper report here.

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