Thanet District Council to fund regeneration of Margate's Dreamland site
A council will invest more than £10 million turning a declining seafront landmark into the world's first heritage amusement park.
Thanet District Council received approval from the Communities and Local Government Secretary today for the compulsory purchase of the Dreamland site in Margate, Kent, which has been closed for the past seven years.
It was informed of the decision after taking the site's owners, the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, to a public inquiry in January.
The authority has said it will now work to gain access to the site to allow structural surveys to begin ahead of construction.
It will work with the Dreamland Trust to create an amusement park of historic rides, with classic side shows, cafes, restaurants, special events, festivals and gardens, a council spokesman said.
He said the project, which is a major part of Margate's regeneration programme, will celebrate the British seaside and popular culture, with a focus on youth cultural heritage.
The Dreamland Trust emerged from the Save Dreamland Campaign to rescue the park and its heritage assets including the UK's oldest roller coaster, a grade II* listed structure which was built in 1920, and a 2,200 seat grade II* listed cinema building developed in 1935.
The site also includes Lord George Sanger's Grade II-listed menagerie cages dating back to the 1800s - believed to be the last remaining type of their kind, the council spokesman said.
Council leader Clive Hart said: "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.
"Dreamland is such an important asset for Thanet, and for thousands outside of the area, so we've always been clear that doing nothing is simply not acceptable.
"It's taken a lot of hard work and determination to get to this point, with the council spending more than £1 million on carrying out urgent repairs to the neglected heritage assets."
Nick Laister, chairman of The Dreamland Trust, said: "The Trust was very pleased to support the council in its efforts to secure the site to enable us to implement our vision, which has been shown time and time again to be the development that the people of Thanet most want to see happen."
He said the Trust hoped to have the first stage of the project open by Easter 2014.
A spokeswoman for the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, which has since rebranded itself as DreamlandLive, said: "Clearly we are very disappointed with this outcome. We remain convinced that the only viable, sustainable way forward for the Dreamland site is the right mix of entertainment space funded by much-needed quality housing. This is key to the area's regeneration.
"We will be assessing the details of the report with our legal team in the coming weeks and responding more fully in due course."
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