Thursday, 5 January 2012


Doing nothing at Dreamland is not acceptable. That’s the message from Thanet District Council ahead of a Public Inquiry into the council’s bid to compulsorily purchase the site.

The Inquiry starts on Tuesday 10 January and will see the council setting out its case as to why it believes a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) is the only way forward for this key site for Margate’s regeneration. The council originally served the CPO notice in June 2010.

The council is working in partnership with the Dreamland Trust to create a world first for the site, an amusement park of thrilling historic rides, with classic side shows, cafés, restaurants, special events, festivals and gardens. The project will also celebrate the British seaside and popular culture, with a focus on youth cultural heritage. It is a major part of Margate’s regeneration programme, creating volunteer, learning, training and employment opportunities.

The first stage of the project will see:
  • the restoration of the Grade II* listed Scenic Railway, the historic rides collection and the Grade II listed menagerie cages, along with repairs to the Grade II* listed Dreamland Cinema building,
  • the reopening of the main park entrance,
  • the introduction of a dedicated learning centre, exhibition area and community space,
  • the refurbishment of the existing car park and new events space, which will also double as an overflow car park.
This is now fully funded, with £3.7 million from the Sea Change fund, £3 million from the council and £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The HLF grant will be available to fund project costs, once the council has demonstrated full control over the Dreamland site to the HLF’s satisfaction. Despite lengthy negotiations with the land owners, there was no progress in transferring the amusement park site to the council, leaving no option but to take CPO action.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr. Clive Hart, said: “Doing nothing on the Dreamland site is not acceptable. It’s already remained vacant and virtually unused for more than five years now and I understand the previous council administration has spent the last couple of years looking at various proposals from the landowners, trying to reach an amicable solution with them. It’s our view that the landowners’ proposals won’t achieve the regeneration of Dreamland.

“Having already spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to come to an agreement with the landowners, the council is left with compulsory purchase of the site as the only way forward. Dreamland is a precious asset, not just for people in Thanet, but the whole country and we cannot afford to lose it. The council and the Dreamland Trust have the desire, ambition and resources to get the first phase of work done on the site. This will then encourage further investment for future phases.”
Chair of The Dreamland Trust, Nick Laister, said: "The Dreamland Trust fully supports the action being taken by Thanet District Council to secure the regeneration of the Dreamland site. Given the lack of progress by the landowners, who have owned the site since 2005, it is essential that the CPO succeeds; otherwise this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reopen the park and repair these important listed buildings will be lost. We believe that our joint proposals for the site are deliverable, viable and will create a unique visitor attraction for Margate.

"There are no other proposals on the table that will retain the site as a tourist attraction, as required by the Local Plan, and which are deliverable and sustainable. Our proposals will keep the entire site in amusement park use and return Dreamland to the status that it enjoyed until very recently, at the heart of Margate's visitor appeal. I will be personally attending the public inquiry and giving evidence in support of the CPO on behalf of The Dreamland Trust."

The council’s contractors Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd. started work on the Dreamland Cinema building in May 2011, after the council served a series of Urgent Works Notices on the owners of the building. So far, structural repairs have been carried out to the steel frame and concrete and to the doors and windows, along with re-pointing. Some of the roof structure has also been replaced, due to its poor condition. The work is expected to be completed by the spring.

The Public Inquiry is expected to last for approximately two weeks, although as it will not sit every day, it may last until the end of January. The Inquiry is being held in the Council Chamber in Cecil Street, Margate and is open to the public. Details of the Inquiry, and more information about Dreamland can be found at

Once the Inquiry concludes, a report from the Planning Inspector is expected in late February or early March. This will then be submitted to the Secretary of State, who will make a decision on the case. This may not be known until May or June.

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