Heads of Terms agreed with potential Dreamland operator

Thanet District Council is delighted to announce that Heads of Terms have been agreed with Margate-based Sands Heritage Ltd., which subject to lease negotiations, would secure them as operator of the iconic Dreamland amusement park. 

In line with the council's procurement process, the two organisations have agreed Heads of Terms which support ambitious plans to open the world’s first heritage amusement park, as proposed, in 2015.  

Award of the contract is subject to agreement of the lease terms which will be negotiated over the coming months.

Acting Chief Executive for Thanet District Council Madeline Homer said, "Securing the right operator to run the Dreamland amusement park is essential. The council has embarked on a rigorous process to progress this and agreeing Heads of Terms with Sands Heritage Ltd. is a significant step forward. There are still processes to follow, however we’re confident at this stage that what SHL have to offer is a great fit for opening a reimagined Dreamland next year.”

The Board of Sands Heritage Ltd. is comprised of industry and financial professionals who can demonstrate sector specific success with visitor attractions such as ZSL London Zoo, Kidzania and the new London Paramount Entertainment resort currently being planned in Kent. Nick Conington, the Executive Chairman of Sands Heritage Limited, is already a major investor in Margate through the Sands Hotel.  

Nick Conington, Executive Chairman of Sands Heritage Ltd. said, “Sands Heritage Ltd. has a strong board in place with a huge array of visitor attraction/hospitality experience between us, and we’re all very excited to have agreed Heads of Terms for the operation of Dreamland. We feel privileged to be working alongside Thanet District Council and The Dreamland Trust to make the opening of Dreamland a reality for Thanet.’

Nick Laister, Chairman of The Dreamland Trust said, “The Dreamland Trust thinks it is fantastic that Thanet District Council has agreed Heads of Terms with a local operator with a very experienced board of professionals, who have been responsible for opening and running some of the UK’s most successful visitor attractions. This is a very exciting milestone in the story of Dreamland’s rebirth.”

The Council owns the Dreamland site following successful compulsory purchase and has been advertising for expressions of interest to operate the amusement park which runs until 21 November.

Progress with securing a potential operator for the park comes a week after news that the Dreamland site has been awarded £1.8 million in Coastal Communities Funding from Government.

Background information on the Dreamland Project

Sands Heritage Ltd. Board Members

Nick Conington – Executive Chairman

A physics graduate from Oxford, Nick Conington enjoyed a 30-year career in international finance with banks and investment funds, including NatWest, Deutsche Bank and Arrowgrass Capital.

He recently invested in his first commercial project by developing a derelict building into what is now the 20-bedroom boutique Sands Hotel. The hotel is currently ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor (amongst all hotels in Kent), and its Bay restaurant is the only restaurant within Thanet that has been awarded 2 rosettes.

Chris Webster

Chris has been an operator and consultant in the leisure sector since 1989. Chris was a non-executive director (8 years) on the East of England Regional Tourist Board and was also a non-executive director (4 years) at Visit England, giving him detailed knowledge and experience of issues relating to developing a visitor economy at a macro level in a balanced and sustainable way. Chris is also Deputy Chairman of the rapidly growing and successful Yorkshire Wildlife Park Ltd. YWP opened in 2009 and attracted 434,000 visitors in 2013 delivering a £5.8m turnover and £2m PBT.

Bob O’Connor

Bob has been in the leisure sector for over 25 years, 5 years in resort management at Butlins, 5 years in hotel general management for Rank Organisation, 6 years General Manager of Brighton Pier and 10 years as Group Managing Director of the Aspinall Foundation, who own the hugely popular Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks in Kent.

John Adams

John is a Chartered Accountant with 30 years of work experience as a partner in a professional practice and subsequently as a financial director acting in both executive and non-executive capacities. In 2012 he organised the sale of Bruichladdich Distillery (Scottish whisky distillery) to Remy Cointreau for £48m having been part of the management team that purchased the Distillery in 2000. John is currently a non-executive director of a number of commercial and residential property companies with combined assets in excess of £125m. He has considerable experience in business start-ups, corporate acquisitions and disposals and takes responsibility for ensuring that corporate governance and financial reporting processes are in place to assist growth as well as developing the legal and financial structures of businesses.

Ray Hole

Ray has a track record of Master Planning and design in the leisure sector having worked around the world. In the UK his work includes Kidzania, ZSL London Zoo and he is currently working on the £2.2Bn London Paramount Entertainment Resort currently being planned on the Swanscombe peninsula.

Press Office

E-Mail: press.office@thanet.gov.uk