In order to secure a long-term, viable future for Dreamland, Cabinet members are to consider a proposal to sell the freehold of the site to the current lessee and operator of the park, Sands Heritage Limited (SHL).
The council has owned the Dreamland site since September 2013 following a successful Compulsory Purchase Order which was a catalyst for the re-opening of the reimagined amusement park in 2015. The site is currently held on a 99 year lease by SHL.
Following millions of pounds of public funding, the successful restoration of the amusement park and substantial private investment, the council is now reviewing ownership of the entire complex in order to unlock the continued regeneration of other iconic parts of the site.
A report will be considered by Cabinet at a meeting on Thursday 1 August.
Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Bob Bayford said: “The council took the bold decision to acquire the site after it fell into significant disrepair and neglect and following a widespread community campaign. This intervention was necessary to secure the future of Dreamland at that time.
“Selling the freehold is a natural next step to secure a successful long term future and to realise the potential for the entire site. Options are more limited under council ownership and could mean that iconic parts of Dreamland might otherwise remain vacant and unused for many years to come. Private ownership would unlock a significant amount of additional investment and see the wider site continue to be reimagined under the expert direction of SHL.”
Bernie Morgan, Chair of the Dreamland Trust, said: “The Trust has worked closely with both Thanet District Council and Sands Heritage Limited to ensure that, if this proposal is accepted, we will continue our work with SHL into the future. In this way, the uniqueness of Dreamland – its heritage – is protected and grown in tandem with this new chapter of the Dreamland story.”
Conditions would be attached to any sale of the site to ensure that the listed heritage structures are protected and to restrict future use of the site to leisure – in line with current planning policy.
The council has sought external legal advice regarding the process and will appoint independent valuers to ensure that the proceeds raised from any sale provide best value for the council tax payer.
Support will be required from grant funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the council is in active discussion to progress this.