PRESS RELEASE 8 April 2003

‘Now is the time to save Dreamland’: Save Dreamland Campaign

“Now is the time to save Dreamland”, says Save Dreamland Campaign Leader Nick Laister. “It is essential that everyone who wants to see Dreamland and the Scenic Railway survive must write to the Council before 9th May to object to the Revised Local Plan”.

Laister was speaking in the week that Thanet District Council published the Second Draft of the Revised Local Plan for consultation. The message from the Save Dreamland Campaign is simple:

“It is now or never. If we want to save Dreamland, we must let the Council know that we are not happy about their U-turn on the Dreamland policy. The First Draft of the Plan was published for consultation in 2001. This contained a policy that only allowed for the redevelopment of a limited part of the site, and even then only if it could be demonstrated that the development would ensure the future viability of the amusement park. The policy also stated that development which would lead to a reduction in the attractiveness or tourism potential of Dreamland would normally be resisted. This went out for public consultation, and the results of this consultation were that the policy as strengthened. The word “normally” was actually removed from the policy in December 2002. The Council also felt that allowing a ‘limited’ part of the site to be redeveloped was too much.”

Laister said that the Save Dreamland Campaign was happy with the policy as it stood at the start of 2003: “The policy recognised a lack of investment in the park from its current owner and stated that the Council believed that this would lead to pressure for the site’s redevelopment. The policy therefore provided the protection that was needed to ensure that this vastly important tourist attraction would remain for the benefit of Margate’s tourism economy. However, following a meeting with the owner of the site – who announced at the end of last year that he wanted to retire and have the site redeveloped for retail and leisure uses – the Council deleted this policy and replaced it with one that allows for the complete redevelopment of the site.”

Dreamland is home to the Scenic Railway, Britain’s oldest operating roller coaster and the country’s only listed amusement park ride. The loss of the 1920-built Scenic Railway, which is not expected to form part of the redevelopment proposals, would wipe out this part of the country’s heritage and one of Margate’s most recognisable symbols.

Local Campaign Co-ordinator, Sarah Vickery, who runs another of Margate’s leading tourist attractions, the Shell Grotto, said: “If Dreamland and the Scenic Railway are lost it will tear the heart out of Margate’s tourism industry. This town is irrevocably linked with the name of Dreamland and many tens of thousands of people come here every year to visit the park; these are visitors that we cannot afford to lose. In addition, the Scenic Railway is an internationally important structure and it would be absolutely criminal if were allowed it to be destroyed without a fight.”

Nick Laister added: “But the people of Margate, its visitors, and anybody who cares about Margate’s heritage and its future, can make a difference. You now have the chance to object to the replacement policy for Dreamland. If you agree with us that the previous policy should be reinstated, you must write to the Council before 9th May 2003 and say so.”

The Revised Plan can be viewed on the Internet at, or in any library in Thanet. There are special forms for objecting, which can be downloaded from the Council’s website or again picked up from libraries or the Council buildings in Margate.

For further information, or to organise interviews, please contact Nick Laister (Campaign Leader) on 01235 838214 (day), 07778 207036 (mobile) or 01235 762186 (evenings and weekends) or Sarah Vickery (Local Campaign Coordinator) on 01843 220008. Or email

To find out more about the Save Dreamland Campaign visit the campaign’s new look website at


Information for Editors

The Campaign has been launched to save the Dreamland Pleasure Park, Margate, home of the UK’s oldest roller coaster, the 83-year-old listed Scenic Railway. Dreamland’s owner proposes to replace the park with a supermarket, shops and casino. The Campaign is lead by planning expert Nick Laister, a leading authority on the UK amusement park industry, planning consultant and editor of, the specialist amusement park bookstore. The Campaign is now speaking on behalf of 13,000 people, including local residents, businesses and organisations such as the Margate Historical Society, Margate Civic Society, the Margate Hotel and Guest House Association, European Coaster Club, Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain and SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

The official campaign website is The campaign can be emailed at The address for all correspondence is Save Dreamland Campaign, The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate, Kent CT9 2BU.

The Revised Deposit Draft Isle of Thanet Local Plan was published on 28th March 2003 for a six-week public consultation period ending on 9th May 2003.

Policy T11 in the DDTLP stated:

“Proposals that seek to extend, upgrade or improve the attractiveness of Dreamland Amusement Park will be permitted. Development that would lead to a reduction in the attractiveness or tourism potential will normally be resisted.

“Exceptionally, development of a limited part of the site may be accepted as part of a comprehensive scheme for the upgrading and improvement of the theme park. The scheme will be required to demonstrate that the future viability of the amusement park can be assured and the Council will require a legal agreement to ensure that the proposed development and the agreed investment in the amusement park are carried out in parallel.”

The Council received over 8,000 objections to the Draft Local Plan during the Plan’s statutory consultation period. A cross party Working Party of Councillors considered all of the objections and has proposed changes to the Draft Plan. Policy T11 received an objection, which is set out in the Council’s summary schedule. This objection stated that the use of the word normally, as an attempt to provide a degree of flexibility, might result in ambiguity about when the policy will apply. The Working Party agreed with the objection and removed the word “normally” from the first part of Policy T11, which now reads:

“Proposals that seek to extend, upgrade or improve the attractiveness of Dreamland Amusement Park will be permitted. Development that would lead to a reduction in the attractiveness or tourism potential will be resisted.”

The Cabinet considered the Working Party recommendations at a meeting on 3rd December 2002. The minutes of that meeting state that members expressed concern at the use of the word “limited” in Policy T11 and did not feel this was sufficiently restrictive. Officers were asked to consider alternatives and report back.

This policy has been replaced by one which allows for the redevelopment of the whole of the Dreamland site.

Objections to the Local Plan should be sent to The Planning Department, Thanet District Council, PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1XZ.

The Scenic Railway at Dreamland is the oldest surviving roller coaster in the United Kingdom. Its age and rarity were major factors in support of its listing. It is now a Grade II listed building, the only amusement park ride in Britain to be given statutory listed status.

Nick Laister BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI MIHT is a leading authority on the UK theme park industry. He is a Chartered Town Planner and Technical Director with the RPS Group plc, and specialises in planning for tourism and leisure. He has been involved in a number of listed buildings and conservation cases, and has appeared as expert witness at several public inquiries and hearings. He has written articles for a number of newspapers and journals and has been invited to speak at conferences on the subject of planning for tourism and leisure. He is regularly interviewed on television and radio on the same subject. He is co-owner of Skelter Publishing LLP and editor of the web site Click here to email Nick Laister.

Sarah Vickery owns and runs the Grade 1 listed Shell Grotto in Margate, a popular tourist attraction with shop, museum and cafe attached. She is Vice-Chair of the Isle of Thanet Tourism Association, Chair of the Thanet Contemporary Arts Festival and a member of the Margate Events Group. She moved to Margate with her family in 2001 to take over the Grotto which she has known and loved since childhood. Before this Sarah was a journalist specialising in arts and travel, writing for a range of magazines and newspapers and editing books. Click here to email Sarah Vickery.

Dreamland Pleasure Park is located at Belgrave Road, Margate. The telephone number is 01843 227011.