A report has been published today (Monday 22 February) confirming that the council has achieved the sale of Dreamland and settled all Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) compensation claims.
Following the CPO of the site in 2013, Thanet District Council was able to attract £11 million of external funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Government departments, to invest in bringing the site back into use. The council spent £8 million of its own capital resources and the operator, Sands Heritage Limited (SHL) has also injected private investment into the site and surrounding area.
The report confirms that whilst this has been a challenging project to deliver, the CPO will have achieved its critical objectives: economic regeneration and the creation of jobs and increased tourism.
At the time of the CPO, the scenic railway was burnt down, the amusement park was closed and there were no plans for redevelopment. Through a prolonged period of partnership working and a determination to see through its vision, the council has been able to create the opportunity for Dreamland to survive the current pandemic and thrive in the future. This was achieved without compromising on its planning policy – to restrict development to leisure-related use, and respecting the listed nature of the scenic railway and cinema building.
The total sale receipt from SHL will be £7 million. Total CPO compensation and related costs will amount to £5.8 million, of which £2.15 million has already been paid. The council has also secured undertakings from SHL that the same number of public car parking spaces will remain, and that there will be no residential development for ten years. This is on top of existing planning restrictions.
Council Leader, Cllr Rick Everitt said: “I was part of the Cabinet that took the decision to issue the CPO, so I’ve had a particular interest in the project. It felt then that the CPO carried risks, but the alternative was to leave the site, which is in a prominent location in Margate, derelict and unloved. We knew then, as now, that Dreamland carries a special place in the hearts of many people, both in Thanet and beyond.
“What successive councils have achieved is a major success story – Dreamland now is unrecognisable, compared to 2013. It has involved excellent partnership working with the Dreamland Trust, Government departments and the operator, SHL. The project has survived the operator going into liquidation and a pandemic.
“There are still challenges, not least for the new owner to manage the re-opening of the park as part of the eventual recovery from Covid-19. But we want to continue to work with SHL to maximise the success of Dreamland and the regeneration of Margate. I am grateful to all the council officers who have worked so hard on it over so many years. This is a Thanet success story and should be celebrated by all involved.”