This week, a battle has been taking place in the High Court over the future of the Dreamland theme park site in Margate, Kent. The Local Authority for Margate, Thanet District Council, has been granted a Compulsory Purchase Order for the site, because it wants to develop it in what it sees as the best interests of the town and its residents. The owners of the site, Dreamland Live, are challenging this decision and want to retain the right to develop this land in their own commercial interests.
This is a brief news report about the background to the court battle, including a short contribution from me. The court case finished yesterday, with a judgement due in around two weeks.
The Dreamland site is an important part of Margate’s tourism heritage and vital for the future of tourism development and regeneration in the area. The delays to this project are incredibly damaging to the development of the town and are only worsening Margate’s Tourism Destination Image, which had been massively improved recently with the opening of Turner Contemporary.
I wrote a journal article about the regeneration of Margate, and of the use of culture to regenerate seaside towns generally, which you can read more about here.
I’m not convinced that the owners of the site have really grasped the full potential of a revitalised Dreamland for tourism and economic development. However, I’m equally concerned that the local authority may not have the funds, capacity and commercial experience to deliver a project that is sustainable in the long-term.
I hope that the future development of Dreamland involves a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors and that the Dreamland Trust remain at the heart of the project. The trust have put together a set of really exciting ideas for the future of the site and represent a range of views and interests in the local community. Without them, I’m sure that the whole site would have been given over to housing or a supermarket development long ago.