DREAMLAND - 6 YEARS OF DERELICTION AS FORECAST BY PLANNING INSPECTOR
I must say that I was unimpressed to read in yesterday's IOTG that in 2012, we might see a big wheel back at Dreamland, similar to the one we saw briefly in 2006 and 2007.
As we approach the 2nd anniversary of the Scenic Railway arson attack whilst Dreamland and its Scenic Railway was being guarded by Probe Security ( recently they seemed to have watched cars with no parking tickets more closely before being 'sacked'), it might be appropriate to remind readers about what has not happened. The good thing about 'blogs' as opposed to papers is that you can search archives easily and remind yourself of events.
Let's start with an IOTG report in the week of 24 April 2008 that was referred to by Strife, ' IOTG is reporting that renovation has been ordered by TDC or compulsory purchase will be initiated'. If my memory serves me well, the owners of Dreamland were seriously miffed by this approach and remarks made at the time , by hopefully, soon to be 'ex-deputy leader' Woger Latchford. What was revealing was this quote by Toby Hunter of Waterbridge: "It might sound odd but we have no idea to what extent it (The Scenic Railway) is insured."
Here is what Eastcliff Matters had to report in April 2008:
One thing I can support Thanet Council on, or at least members on the Planning committee, is on the legal action being taken to ensure Margate’s historic scenic railway is properly repaired.
Thanet Council’s planning committee has voted unanimously in favour of taking legal steps to secure the future of the fire-damaged feature at Dreamland. Members gave officers the power to serve repair notices on the former amusement park’s owners, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, which will compel them to bring the 1920 ride back to operating condition.
Issuing the order is seen as a last resort move by the council, but also gives it the option of compulsorily purchasing the entire 15 acre site - possibly including the Dreamland cinema - and paying for the work to be done before reselling it again.
I predict now, that it will be necessary, and that the current TDC administration will bottle out of the decision. They have already shown their colours when they overturned the Planning Inspectors recommendation that the Dreamland Site be reserved for leisure.
Well how right, Cllr David Green was.
TDC not only failed to enforce a planning notice concerning the security fencing put up on the site in 2005 but clearly has not enforced repair of The Scenic Railway. In addition, readers might remember the £48,000 or so, of TDC tax-payers money, that was spent on additional security fencing after the arson attack. There is no record of this cost having been recovered by TDC and was this amount hidden in the 'write-offs' of debt by TDC recently, that TDC refused to divulge details off?
It seems to me that a cynical dereliction of duty by TDC has ocurred and that TDC, the owners of The Dreamland site and The Dreamland Trust are going to rely on the tax-payer's largesse in the form of the recent £3,500,000 'Sea Change' funding from a Labour Government to not only repair the Scenic Railway but put together a number of knackered old rides to create an 'old' half-sized version of Dreamland that 'failed' in 2002 despite attracting 700,000 visitors to Margate. Now forgive me if I have got this wrong, but I thought that the owners of Dreamland were going to have to fund the 'Heritage' Dreamland as part of the deal to let them put housing on 49% of the site that was and is the 'Key to Margate's regeneration'?
The property magazine that quoted that Toby Hunter was anticipating a £500,000,000 project for housing on Dreamland seems to be the real reason why this farce has gone on for so long and the Independent Planning Inspector who stated that 'the this Key site to Margate's regeneration would remain a derelict site for years if TDC did not act effectively' has been vindicated.
I leave you with a poster that highlighted the only 'reconstruction' of the Scenic Railway that has so far ocurred. (see below).