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Dreamland, Margate Discussion Thread

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I am so pleased that it looks like all this work is going to be done and the park will get back to the place i used to visit as a teenager in the early 80's. I had many a happy day spent there in the summer holidays.

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  • 3 weeks later...



The Dreamland Trust has just announced the appointment of Jonathan Bryant as its Project Director. Jonathan will be responsible for implementing the world’s first amusement park of thrilling historic rides at Dreamland Margate following the award of grant funding from Heritage Lottery and the Government’s Sea Change program.


With a wealth of experience in the heritage and leisure sectors and in business leadership, Jonathan, who’s originally from East London, established the United Kingdom's first brewing museum and opened a working coal mine to the public in Staffordshire. In Scotland he led the City of Dundee’s renaissance Discovery project as chief executive and on the River Thames set up Henley’s River & Rowing Museum, which won the coveted Museum of the Year Award and was short listed for the Stirling Prize for the work of its architect David Chipperfield – also project architect for Margate’s Turner Contemporary. More recently, Jonathan project directed Birmingham’s Thinktank Science Center and for the last five years has been member of British Waterways’ senior management team. He is also an active volunteer in the cultural & heritage sector and has served as chairman of the Association of Independent Museums, trustee and chairman of Dundee’s contemporary art gallery, trustee of Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and, currently, chairman of Watermen’s Hall Preservation Trust in London.


Chairman of The Dreamland Trust, Nick Laister, said: “I would like to welcome Jonathan to The Dreamland Trust. He has a reputation for action and for successfully bringing forward first-class heritage attractions delivered with commercial and creative flair. With Jonathan’s excellent track record, I am sure that we will be able to deliver a Dreamland that Margate can be proud of.”


The Dreamland Margate project is being led by The Dreamland Trust, a not-for-profit company. The Trust is developing an exciting theme park from the past on the Dreamland site, giving visitors to Margate an opportunity to enjoy spectacular historic amusement park rides. The rides will be built around the center piece of the park, the Scenic Railway, the oldest surviving roller coaster in the U.K. and the fourth oldest in the world. Restoration work will also be carried out on the Grade II-listed Dreamland cinema building, creating a major new visitor attraction of international significance.


Jonathan Bryant said: “I am inspired by all that The Dreamland Trust and its partners have achieved to date and am looking forward to bringing Dreamland back to life as a firm family favourite for the 21st century.”


Jonathan joins The Dreamland Trust in Jan. 2010. Jonathan is currently interim chief executive at Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust, which is working with Haringey Council to refurbish and develop the 1930’s listed civic buildings and assembly hall. From January his commitments to Dreamland and Hornsey Town Hall will run concurrently.


The Trust has also appointed Jan Leandro as Audience Development Officer and Graham Ward as Project Archivist, both of whom start in Jan. 2010.


Additional details can be found at:www.dreamlandmargate.com and www.savedreamland.co.uk.

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  • 4 months later...
Campaigners trying to revive Margate's Dreamland amusement park in Kent have said they aim to reopen by summer 2012. They have set themselves the target as they continue to fundraise and hold talks with the site's owners.


Bob Preedy has been appointed rides co-ordinator, to research the history of the rides already acquired and source other rides from around the world. "The idea is to rescue all these old rides... and really rejuvenate this bleak area," he said.


The rides, some of which have been in storage in defunct amusement parks or packed away for safe-keeping by previous owners, will have to be brought to Kent by road.


'Rides of yesteryear'


Mr Preedy said the first job would then be to get every single piece of metal x-rayed, to look for hairline cracks, before renovation can take place. "Historic rides are still being discovered across the country and we will be investigating the feasibility of adding these to our bulging stock. "Who knows what will turn up in the next two years - so that the rides of yesteryear can again be given pride of place at one of the country's best loved amusement parks," he said.


Among the rides set for Dreamland is the Grade II listed rollercoaster which was badly damaged in an arson attack in 2008. The Scenic Railway ride, built in 1920, will be rebuilt with the help of a £3.7m government grant. It is the oldest surviving rollercoaster in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world.

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Nostalgia only goes so far. If the rest of Margate isn't given the once over to make it an attractive holiday destination once again then I can't see this park drawing in a massive crowd from around the UK. Not when there are much more attractive thrills in places like Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Blackpool. (which has an excellent mix of old traditional and new thrilling rides).

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Thanet council is to plough £4 million of taxpayers’ money into the planned redevelopment of Dreamland after the site-owner said it could not put in the necessary cash. The project to bring Dreamland back to life was to be funded through a £3.8 million Government grant, £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £4 million from the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC), which owns the site. The remainder of the £12.5 million cost would come from local authorities.


However, MTCRC now says that, because of the difficult economic climate, it is unable to pay its share, meaning Thanet council will have to make up the money, which it says it will borrow.


Speed is of the essence if the planned redevelopment of Dreamland is to go ahead. A Sea Change grant of £3.8 million has been secured from the Government to help fund the project, but it will be lost if it is not spent by March 31, 2011. With this in mind, council chiefs say they could make a compulsory purchase of the site if the plans do not move forward soon. That means that if negotiations between the council and MTCRC stall and grants, which include other funding streams, are put at risk, the council will seek to acquire the land through legal action.


The council’s cabinet would have to approve any move to buy the nine-acre site. Thanet council chief executive Richard Samuel said it was a “fall-back” option and the council would rather not have to do it. It is still intended that MTRC will sell the site to the council for a nominal sum, reportedly £1, but if it is not wrapped up by a target date of Saturday, July 31, then Thanet council could take the compulsory-purchase option.


Mr Samuel said: “If there is no practical progress to achieve the sale of the land to us by the end of July, the council is proposing to implement reserve compulsory-purchase powers to protect the taxpayers’ investment in this. “We are pretty confident that won’t be necessary. We would prefer not to have to go through that route.” He added that it was a “fall-back position” and that, to date, the site-owner had been “very cooperative and constructive about the proposals”.


Work on the site could start by the end of the year, with the majority of the building taking place in 2011. It is planned that the amusement park will become the UK’s first heritage theme-park and offer a mixture of both old and new rides. The old listed cinema will become a restaurant bar and exhibition space.


Dreamland in its new guise should be open by the summer of 2012 and up to 200 jobs could be created in what would be a shot in the arm for Margate’s increasingly blighted economy and reputation. Council estimates put the number of tourists that it could bring to the town at 700,000 a year. If a compulsory-purchase order is made, MTCRC would have the right to appeal the decision, possibly sparking a lengthy public enquiry. The land owned by MTCRC is a key factor in the development of the park. Mr Samuel said: “We can’t make this [redevelopment] happen without it.”

Edited by jedimaster1227
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A scheme to turn Margate's Dreamland into a theme park for historic fairground rides has received a pledge of up to £4m of council funding.


Thanet councillors agreed to put £2.2m of the council's own money into the project and to borrow up to £1.8m if other funding cannot be found. They also agreed the council should take on the freehold of the Dreamland Cinema site as part of the scheme. Work on the heritage amusement park is expected to begin late this year. The centrepiece of plans for the regeneration of Dreamland is the Grade II listed Scenic Railway rollercoaster which was badly damaged in an arson attack in 2008.


Peppercorn rent


The ride, built in 1920, is the oldest surviving rollercoaster in the UK and will be rebuilt with the help of a £3.7m government grant. Other vintage rides salvaged from Blackpool and Southport are already in storage ready to be rebuilt on Margate seafront. It is hoped the attraction will open in the summer of 2012. The land, currently owned by Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, will be leased by the council to the Dreamland Trust at a peppercorn rent.


The council said the £2.2m was already provided for in its existing budget. Applications for additional funding have been submitted to organisations including English Heritage and the Arts Council. The land transfer and funding still have to go before the full council for final approval.

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  • 9 months later...



The opening of Dreamland heritage amusement park has been delayed


THE full reopening of the Dreamland heritage amusement park has slipped from next year to 2013, as complications continue over ownership of the land.


The Dreamland Trust has promised rides and attractions will run during 2012 on the former Margate funpark, and has announced ways for people to get involved in the renovations to the Scenic Railway.


But the opening of the site will now be delayed until 2013 at the earliest, it was said this week.


Thanet council hoped the Dreamland site would be transferred from its owners, the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC), in July 2010.


When that deadline passed, the council instigated a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).


That was due to start after Christmas, but the council is now blaming changes to land ownership for the delay.


A spokesman for Thanet council said: "The MTCRC has changed the ownership of a number of land parcels within the site.


"This has forced the council to do more due diligence work and to serve new requisitions for information, all of which has to be completed prior to the serving of the Compulsory Purchase Order."


In April the council said "if all went to plan" the park would open in summer 2012, but this week council leader Bob Bayford said it would be 2013.


If the CPO is not contested, the process could be complete by June. If there is a public inquiry, it may take until October.


Toby Hunter, from MTCRC, said the issue of land transfers was a "red herring" and that the real issue was that Thanet council was unable to agree how much development would be allowed on the remainder of the site.


The MTCRC wants to build new homes and has been trying to work with Thanet council on the number and type of dwellings.


Mr Hunter said: "The question is why is Thanet council pursuing a CPO at all? We are supposed to be working together, but that has become very frustrating as it is not clear what the council actually wants from the enabling development.


"We have a 16-acre site and are being asked to give up eight acres for the heritage amusement park. We are happy to do that, but we need to know what we are going to get in return."


Mr Hunter said that MTCRC had bought the Dreamland site for £12 million, but that Thanet council would hope to use a CPO to obtain the land for about £3 million. He dubbed land valuation "a dark art, not an exact science".


Mr Hunter added: "This is now not about urban regeneration but about a vendetta. The people have got to ask if they have trust in the council as custodians of their money."


Nick Dermott, Thanet council's heritage adviser, said: "The scaffolding going up around the site is the clearest sign that we are progressing with the plans."


Jonathan Bryant, project director of the Dreamland Trust, added: "The official opening may be put back slightly, but we are committed to offering attractions this year and next. We have always said this is a phased project."


So far 65 companies have sent in tenders for work to make the cinema and ballroom watertight.


And companies from Europe, America and India have expressed an interest in renovating the listed Scenic Railway.


John Lawson's Circus and Carter's Steam Fair are coming to Dreamland this year, and the Dreamland Trust says it is considering installing a viewing platform for people to follow the renovations to the Scenic Railway during 2012.

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  • 9 months later...

This article was in the Guardian newspaper in the UK today: guardian.co.uk article


A dilapidated seaside funfair, which in its heyday was one of the best in Britain, is to get a £3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help restore an ancient wooden roller-coaster so it can become an amusement park of historic rides.


The £10m project to renovate Dreamland in Margate will be a further boost to the town after the opening of the nearby Turner Contemporary gallery, which has seen 300,000 visitors in its first six months, twice as many as were expected in a year. Tracey Emin, a famous Margate figure, said: "This will totally revamp and regenerate Dreamland and help bring it back to its former glory. Margate will soon play host to the perfect day out."


Jan Leandro, the Dreamland Trust's development manager, said: "You can see the change in the town already. It is being transformed from what it looked like only 18 months ago and Dreamland will be an important element in that."


The amusement park, founded in the mid-19th century by Lord George Sanger, flourished up until the 1980s but eventually saw many of its rides sold and closed to visitors in 2006. Its wooden scenic railway – or roller-coaster – opened in 1920 and was given Grade II listed status in 2002, but was partly burned down by arsonists in 2008. The lottery money will go towards rebuilding its station and creating new trains, based on surviving models.


The organisers have vintage "thrill" rides, including a 1914 "whip" and a 1920s "caterpillar" in store to be reassembled. They also want to restore the original animal cages and convert them into exhibition spaces. The project has received £3.7m in government funding and support from Thanet district council to reopen in the summer of 2013.


Other projects to receive grants, announced by the lottery fund , are £4.6m for redevelopment of Lews castle in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to provide a museum, and £1.4m for improvements at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.


This article was on the BBC website too: bbc.co.uk/news article


The project has received £3.7m in government funding, £4m funding from Thanet district council and now a grant of £3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and should open in the summer of 2013.


ADMIN EDIT: I went ahead and quoted the Guardian's article so people wouldn't have to jump to see it.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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^ Of course not, that is why I put a wink & an exclamation mark.


I love the idea that this is going to be a place for "classic" attractions (similar to your dark ride paradise). I also like how in this time in which the government is cutting the budget for pretty much everything, they have found a couple of million for restoring a theme park... Well done!

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Great to see some investment going in. Hopefully it will all work out.


And can I just mention to the potential park owners that $3 million will buy you a GCI Big Fun woodie! Perfect for the park!


Sort of goes against the whole nature of this classic park.

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  • 1 month later...



It was one of the UK's best-loved amusement parks, but for the past seven years, Margate's Dreamland has been left to fall into disrepair.


Over the next two weeks, two competing visions to bring the site back into use will be thrashed out before a planning inspector.


Thanet District Council has in place almost £10m to create an amusement park of historical rides for the seafront attraction. It has applied for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to buy the site from landowner, the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC).


The landowners, however, object to the forced sale. They have their own vision for the site, which they believe has a better chance of success.


Talks broke down


It involves building more than 400 homes, as well as restoring the Grade II* listed Scenic Railway around a fun park. Their vision also includes a digital media studio, an outdoor space and opportunities for restaurants, cafes and shops.


The council says it has tried to reach an "amicable solution" with MTCRC but talks broke down because they could not agree on "realistic housing numbers".


Councillor Clive Hart, the new Labour leader of Thanet District Council, said: "Doing nothing on the Dreamland site is not acceptable. "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 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 has put aside £4m for the project and has secured £3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £3.7m from the Department for Culture Media and Sport. The funding, however, is dependent on the council gaining full ownership of the site.


'Ambitions are unrealistic'


The restoration of the cinema building will form a second phase, for which funding has yet to be obtained. The park will be run by the Dreamland Trust, which will be given the site by the council for a peppercorn rent.


Mr Hart added: "There's no doubt about it, the fortunes of Dreamland run hand in hand with the town. The town has taken a plummet over the last 30 years, as indeed has Dreamland. "People are at their wits end as to what has been allowed to happen."


The landowners, however, believe the council's ambitions are unrealistic. They believe the council has overestimated the number of visitors the amusement park is likely to attract.


Toby Hunter, of the Margate Town Regeneration Company, said he did not know why the relationship with the council had broken down. He said: "We had a joint vision that they have completely gone away from. We don't believe that they will make money and we don't feel that they will have the numbers."


The landowners believe the sale of the homes they plan to build will generate enough funds to make the rest of the project a success.


Mr Hunter warned if the council succeeds in implementing the CPO, the site could remain vacant for decades.


Nick Laister, who chairs the Dreamland Trust, is backing the council scheme and criticised the owners' lack of progress since buying the site in 2005. He said: "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."


Councillor Clive Hart said Dreamland's plight was "heartbreaking"


The landowners have set out an alternative vision for the Dreamland site, which includes housing

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I think the council will be successful with the CPO for a number of reasons:


Firstly, Margate has a number of empty houses already and so the last thing they need is 400 more houses


The government is trying to promote tourism in the UK and creating a heritage park would certinly help with this.


Levels of unemployment in Margate is quite high and so the park would create jobs too


There is much more public support for Dreamland than for a housing estate

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Dreamland Margate in England plans to reopen in 2013 as the world’s first amusement park dedicated to last-of-a-kind historic thrill rides, including one of the world's oldest roller coasters.


Located about 75 miles east of London, the waterfront amusement park hopes to attract 350,000 visitors annually with a collection of vintage rides that include a whip, caterpillar, haunted swing, fun house and shoot-the-chute water ride.


Dating to 1863 as a dance hall, the seaside location that would become Dreamland Margate eventually added a circus menagerie, pleasure gardens and amusement rides.


The Save Dreamland campaign was formed in 2003 with the announcement of the park's closure. A master plan unveiled in 2009 called for restoring the nine-acre property as a heritage amusement park. Dreamland Margate is expected to reopen in 2013 with the assistance of $17 million in government funds and grants.


The revitalized park will be based around a trio of structures listed on England's registry of historic places: the Scenic Railway roller coaster, the Art Deco cinema and Lord George Sanger’s animal cages.


The plan is to salvage and restore a number of vintage rides rescued from parks around the United Kingdom. Many of the historic rides will be relocated from the original 1912 Pleasureland Southport in northwest England, which closed in 2006.


Restoration work has already begun on the cinema's iconic 80-foot-tall Dreamland sign and the Scenic Railway that was partially burned in 2008. Plans call for converting the animal cages into exhibition spaces.


An amusement park made up of vintage rides sounds like a dream come true for me. This past summer I took a road trip across America's coaster belt in hopes of riding a vanishing collection of turn-of-the-century attractions. Many of those classics are now being assembled at Dreamland.


Here's a rundown of the historic rides planned for Dreamland Margate:


Scenic Railway


Built in 1920, Dreamland's signature ride lost its station house, distinctive trains and a central section of track section during a devastating 2008 fire. Upon reopening, the brakeman-operated ride would become the oldest coaster in the United Kingdom (displacing the 1923 Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in northwest England).


Water Chute


The 1958 shoot-the-chute water ride operated at Rhyl’s Ocean Beach Fun Fair in Wales until the park closed in 2007. Dreamland will employ the boats and mechanical parts from the original ride, the last surviving circular Water Chute in the world. An identical water chute operated at Dreamland until 1995.


River Caves


Built in 1923 at Pleasureland Southport, the indoor boat ride took passengers on a meandering river journey past tableaux scenes and through caves and tunnels. At Dreamland, which featured a River Caves attraction until 1984, passengers will embark on a whimsical journey in search of mythical dream creatures.


Fun House


Rescued from Pleasureland Southport, the Dreamland attraction will feature the original 1955 machinery from the United Kingdom's last traditional Fun House, including moving steps, ramps and floors and a spinning table known as the social mixer.


Wild Mouse


The wooden Wild Mouse coaster gives the sensation that the white-knuckle ride will fly off the track during each turn because the wheels are positioned near the rear of the car. Built in 1960 at Morecambe Pleasure Park in northwest England, the coaster was relocated to Pleasureland Southport in 1999. Only two wooden Wild Mouse coasters survive in the UK, with the other at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.


Corbiere Wheel


A Ferris wheel with a twist, the Corbiere Wheel spins vertically while also rotating horizontally at the base. Built in 1956, the world's only spherical motion wheel spent most of its life at Clarence Pier on England's south coast before moving to Pleasureland Southport.


Ghost Train


The 1978 Ghost Train from Pleasureland Southport is similar to several dark rides that operated at Dreamland over the years. The park may resurrect a "Journey Into Space" theme for the spinning-car ride.




Dating to 1914, Europe's last surviving Whip was removed from Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 2008. Designed and built by W. F. Mangels Co. of Coney Island, N.Y., the simple ride consists of two opposing turntables with a cable loop that pulls cars around a laminated wooden track. The Blackpool Whip is identical to one that operated at Dreamland.


Haunted Swing


The 1961 Haunted Swing from Pleasureland Southport creates the optical illusion that riders sitting on a swinging bench are rotating head over heels. The Haunted Swing at Dreamland was called the Rock and Roll House.




The 1914 Caterpillar from Pleasureland Southport is one of the last undulating canopy-covered rides in the world. Dreamland’s 1922 Caterpillar ride operated until the 1980s.




The typical Galloper carousel features brightly painted horses and a few bench seats. Dreamland is still trying to acquire a classic carousel.




While Dreamland never featured a ski lift-style Cableway ride, the park is considering a route stretching toward the ocean along the main entrance corridor. The 1974 aerial Cableway ride was originally installed at Pleasureland Southport.


Junior Whip


The last surviving junior whip ride in the United Kingdom opened at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1927.




The 1969 Meteorite centrifugal force wheel from Pleasureland Southport tilts at a 45-degree angle during operation.


Helter Skelter


Dreamland has featured a lighthouse-shaped Helter Skelter spiral slide since 1980. The park is still trying to acquire a vintage version of the ride.


Mirror Maze


Built in 1961, the Mirror Maze from Pleasureland Southport was known as 1001 Troubles.


Flying Scooters


The 1997 replica of the popular vintage amusement park ride will be relocated from Pleasureland Southport. Riders manipulate large rudders to control the flight path of the cable-suspended cars as they spin around a central hub.

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That is the only thing we can be confident about at the moment. The previous article was what the current plan for the site is although it is dependant on the site being purchased by the council. If this does not happen, the scenic railway will still be restored, however the rest of the site will become 400 houses. If you look a few posts earlier in this thread, you'll see that a hearing is happening at the moment to decide the fate of the site with the result expected soon. Hopefully the heritage park plan will go ahead but whatever the outcome I, like you, look forward to riding the Scenic Railway

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  • 7 months later...


Margate's Dreamland compulsory purchase order approved


Thanet council has been given the go-ahead to purchase Margate's disused Dreamland theme park.


The authority wants to turn the site into a £10m heritage park with historical rides and sideshows.


The secretary of state for communities and local government gave approval for the compulsory purchase of Dreamland following a public inquiry.


The current owners DreamlandLive objected to the sale, saying the council's plan was not affordable.


DreamlandLive's plan involved building 400 homes, as well as restoring the Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway around a fun park and a digital media studio.


The two competing visions of the site were aired during a public inquiry in January.


Margate artist Tracey Emin said it was "the best news Margate could ever have - and about time".


She added: "All of Margate has been campaigning for this. Now it's finally happening. Dreamland says it all."


'National significance'


Councillor Clive Hart, Labour leader of Thanet District Council, said: "I'm thrilled with today's announcement.


"This is a key step to unlocking the regeneration of the Dreamland site and means we can start to move in the right direction, in partnership with the Dreamland Trust, to progress the future of the site, which has been vacant for a significant amount of time."


The park will be run by the Dreamland Trust, which will be given the site by the council for a peppercorn rent once the title to the land has been secured.


Nick Laister, who chairs the trust, said: "The Dreamland Trust is delighted that the secretary of state has backed our plans to reopen Dreamland as a major seaside visitor attraction of regional and national significance.


"The residents and businesses of Thanet, and its many existing and future visitors, have waited far too long for work on this project to start.


"The Dreamland Trust is ready to make a start on site and we hope to have stage one of the project fully open by easter 2014."


Link:BBC News

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  • 4 months later...



A two day appeal hearing against the Government's decision to grant Thanet council control of the Dreamland site in Margate will take place in March.


DreamlandLive, led by site owners Toby Hunter and representatives of Jimmy Godden's estate, lodged an appeal last month to challenge the compulsory purchase of the 16.5 acre site which was served by Thanet council in June 2011.


The council had received approval from the Secretary of State for the Compulsory Purchase of the site in August following a public inquiry


But DreamlandLive say the Communities Secretary's decision ignored government guidelines.


The appeal will be heard in the High Court on March 20 and 21.


If it is unsuccessful Thanet council will begin the process of acquiring ownership of the 16.5 acre site.


The authority is working with The Dreamland Trust, formed from the Save Dreamland Campaign group, to create an amusement park of historic rides, with classic sideshows, vintage cafes, restaurants, and gardens with special events and festivals.


The heritage assets include the Grade II listed 1920 scenic railway, the cinema and Lord George Sanger's Grade II-listed menagerie cages dating back to the 1800s.


The £11 million project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's Sea Change programme and TDC.


The park will be designed by Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, of HemingwayDesign. The firm will also work on a new brand which will be reflected in the architectural design and marketing of the attraction.


The target opening date is 2014.


Mt Hunter said DreamlandLive was willing to hand over the land the council wants for nothing in return for permission to build almost 500 homes around the Grade-II listed Scenic Railway.

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