This week's Isle Of Thanet Gazette has the frontpage question MARGATE - WHAT NEXT? The gazette addresses issues over the controversial plans for The Dreamland amusement site.
I must say for a variety of reasons, I'm more than confused, I shall elaborate. Over the last few years some things have never been explained adequately, the owners of the Dreamland amusement park have dismantled an established business with a worldwide reputation, surely not as some long cynical process, to turn the site into prime housing land.
The council have as I understand already changed the local plan once to accomodate Dreamlands owners and are in the process of doing so again, despite the advice of a government inspector that dreamland was an assest worth saveing. Till now the owners could only get a change of use for the land, if they were able to prove the site could not be made viable as a leisure facility, now it seems the council are ready to back down all the way and consider other developments such as housing.
In August this year the cabinet meeting of Thanet District Council considered a plan for Dreamland amusement park and Arlington Square, which I thought they would put out for proper local consultation, so far the consultations look as thought it has gone underground.
Then we come to this week, the council hold a consultation meeting, advertised with full page notices, and since the councils spent so much in promoting this event, I thought it would only be polite to go along.
This meeting was offered as a consultation about renewal, so naturally I thought someone would be on hand to hear comments about the renewal of the dreamland amusement park site, this being perhaps the biggest development likely to take place in Margate for some considerable time.
I doubt you'll be surprised to hear, that when I went there no one was available from the council familiar with this project, although I did speak with Derek Harding part of SEEDA Margate regeneration quango thingy.
Assuming by this point you haven't given up the will to live, I'm convinced that a public consultation on this plan to redevelop dreamland and also incidentally create traffic mayhem by restricting traffic along Marine Terrace is probably irrelevant as I believe minds have already been made up by the planning authorities.
THE RED LINE SHOWS PROPSED TRAFFIC DIVERSION INTO MARGATES BACK STREETS
Anyway what really worries me is what the local council are playing at, in August they produced a planning brief for the site, which to my mind seems a tad too proactive for a planning authority, whose principal role presumably is to regulate and interpret planning regulations for the benefit of local populace.
The bottom line is if the Thanet Council are under any obligation to consult with the local people then it should be done in a clear and well publicized way, yes there has been a drop session(whatever that might be) and a further one on 17 October 5.00pm - 7.00pm, if your passing the very accessable commitee rooms (I think somewhere up on the third floor of the council offices) and if you get lost who knows what you might find.
Just as a conclusion the Dreamland planning brief, finishes off with a list of those who will be consulted they are Natural England -English heritage - Kent Highway Services - Environment Agency - The Countryside Agency -CABE - The 20th Century Society - Statutory Undertakers - The Emergency Services -Network Rail - The Theatres Trust - Kent police "Secure By Design"
I'm sure the author of the brief intended to mention the public as a significant group to be consulted.
If you would like more information Thanet Council have produced a simplified planning brief (two pages) off if and consultation form on this page CLICK HERE
If you would like full the Dreamland brief (18 pages) including the nasty bits like maps showing areas of flood risk CLICK HERE
Also the notes from the Cabinet agenda CLICK HERE
Forget anything else the "DREAMLAND BRIEF" is likely to be the most significant issue to effect Margate for years to come (and that includes the Turner Gallery) surprising that Sandy Ezekiel and his deputy and Roger Latchford are keeping quiet on the matter, still given the latters expertise on Ramsgate Harbour beach maybe its a good thing.