Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dream on Dreamland

Two significant moments in the regeneration of Margate are shortly to be made public first the Dreamland consultation this week followed next week by the architects David Chipperfield with the initial designs for the Turner contemporary.

First up we have the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Companies consultation at the Queen's Hall, Winter Gardens, Margate Wednesday 7th February 11am - 3pm & 6:00pm - 10pm, Thursday 11 am - 3pm

Now at of the time of writing (evening before MTCRC consultation) I have yet to visit the consultation but I am willing to take a guess as to the flavour of the event.

But before I do so, I would like to see the company involved MTCRC take a fence (no I don't mean offence) down, as I understand a while back the owners of Dreamland built a stonking great big fence, right through the middle of the park. Why you might ask? Well as far as I can understand a massive steel fence 2.4 metres high was built across the site without planning permission and now they have appealed against an enforcement notice requiring its removal. What has this to do with the consultation process? Assuming they believe in consultation, you might have expected them to comply with the council's enforcement notice to remove the fence.

Anyway what can we expect from this consultation event, firstly I would imagine that the presentation will be slick and professional. It is said that they are spending £250,000 on the consultation. I imagine that great emphasis will be placed on dreamland amusement park as an historical fact, by that I mean no effort will be spared in the presenting theme parks as a completely unviable business (ignoring Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Drayton Manor Park, Chessington). Also I think it is safe to assume that whilst a minimal part of the site is given over to token attractions such as a skate park their intentions are to develop as much building for residential and business purpose as possible.

Looking in this week's Thanet Times they seem very positive as well they might, given the full page adverts placed in their newspapers (Trinity Mirror), they even have a two-page spread suggesting ''Dreamland bosses are giving you the chance to decide what should be built in the Margate theme-park'' well having checked their interactive website it appears that one of the things you cannot build in the Margate theme-park is er, a theme-park.

Big-money is being spent here and another guess is that they will have possibly one or two tame politicians along with the company representatives on hand for interview, should the media turn up, to commiserate over the death of the amusement park and also to look to the future, put a positive spin on viable redevelopment for the site and possibly even mumble yet again about cafe society.

To me I feel cynical business motives are all that count in this consultation, what Margate needs is not another housing development it needs a big attraction. This last summer I visited what was left of dreamland amusement park and walking around I got the impression that you could not have made an amusement park more inhospitable had you tried, as ever that's my opinion (click here to read about my visit).

I'm no expert but I imagine it's easier and quicker to make money by developing the Dreamland site for retail and residential business rather than put the effort in to create a popular theme-park, particularly since most of the old Dreamland site has already been bulldozed.

Margates prosperity was based on its visitors, the current decline is resultant from declining visitor numbers only by giving people a reason to visit, will Margate ever be prosperous again and it's obvious to most that Dreamland is the only attraction that could possibly generate substantial visitor numbers because Turner Contemporary will never have the same broad appeal.

I hope that I have got it wrong and by the time most people read this, it will all be over!


  1. Tony,

    You might find this sincerely coincidental but Margate Town Centre Housing Company have just started to remove that ugly 2.4m steel fence and replace it with nice 2m wooden picket fencing!

    Very strange timing! Also, have you noticed how the Dreamland fin signage has been lit up every night (since the park closed for the season)

  2. They actually have lodged an appeal against the enforcement notice it just struck me as odd a company that is so willing to consult should have erected it in the first place.

    Just what exactly do the boundaries mark, surely not some plan they have already decided on

  3. Perhaps what we need to do is tell the owners where to stick thier cash ;-p and build a decent attraction somewhere else? Have no idea where though.