Published: 08:01, 08 October 2014
The designer Wayne Hemingway says the reopening of Dreamland will be a success because it is “in the right time and right place”, as details of the project go on display this week.
In an exclusive interview before unveiling plans for the revamped attraction, dubbed the Reimagined Dreamland, Mr Hemingway said the park has been inspired by the cultural revival of Margate.
Responsible for the design and branding of the long-dormant attraction’s revival, his company HemingwayDesign will reveal a park where “every little detail will be something which will photograph”.
The council-owned theme park is due to reopen next year, ending a saga which has seen it avoid being turned into a housing development following a lengthy legal dispute after its closure in 2006.
Former Red or Dead clothes designer Mr Hemingway – who built the Bridge development in Dartford – said Dreamland will add to the resurgence of Margate, which he compared to regenerated cultural areas like the Mitte district of Berlin, Hackney and the Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.
He said: “It is going to be a success because it is a great idea in the right time and right place.
“If you look at what is happening in the world at the moment and the best places in terms of regeneration are places which have fallen on their backsides and then been picked up by the young creative community who decided there is an opportunity there.
"They see a way of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.”
Mr Hemingway was joined by Dreamland project director Eddie Kemsley, who believes Dreamland will add to the regeneration of Margate started by the Turner Contemporary art gallery.
It has attracted 1.3m visitors since opening in 2011, contributing £32m to the town’s economy. Visitors can get to Margate in 75 minutes from London.
Mrs Kemsley said: “Dreamland will help to accelerate what is happening there anyway.
“The connectivity to London will help to bring the next generation along.
“The Old Town has really picked up. It is the Turner effect. It has caused this ripple effect through the town.
“You can see creatives coming to the area. Margate has become ‘the’ seaside town.”
The Dreamland regeneration project is working on a total budget the same size as the marketing budget of Blackpool and Alton Towers.
HemingwayDesign aim to take advantage of social media to market the park on a small percentage of the big boys’ budget.
Mr Hemingway added: “Every little detail will be something which will photograph. Every toilet seat and exposed wire will be touched by the creative hand of a designer.
“This will be the modern way of marketing. We will use modern methods to achieve a reach of four million on a fraction of Blackpool’s budget.”
More than 2.5m people visited Dreamland every year during its heyday in the 1960s, when Margate was seen as a cool seaside resort for London holidaymakers.
The site spiralled into decline in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was owned by the Bembom Brothers, as low-cost flights to the continent became more widely available.
Proposals were put forward in 2003 to redevelop the site into housing but it was met with huge local opposition, resulting in a lengthy legal battle between its owners and Thanet District Council.
It came to an end in October last year when the Court of Appeal dismissed a final challenge to the local authority’s compulsory purchase order for the site.
Mr Hemingway was brought in to redevelop Dreamland in November 2012 but was only allowed onto the site last year after the legal battle was resolved.
Having built his Red or Dead fashion label on selling designer gear for everyday people, Mr Hemingway has promised a “cool and authentic” feel for Reimagined Dreamland.
He said the attraction has also moved on from the original plans of the Dreamland Trust to turn the site exclusively into an heritage amusement park.
Features will include old pedal cars – bought largely from eBay – for a children’s racetrack and a crazy golf course, possibly with holes themed around landmarks of Kent.
Old equipment which can no longer be used for its original purpose will be turned into furniture and ornamental pieces.
Mr Hemingway said: “When we came down and looked at this as a team, we saw fantastic heritage but thought it wouldn’t work as a visitor attraction which was kind of a museum.
“The Dreamland Trust wanted it to be a museum and totally heritage based and we questioned that from day one.
“It is not enough. We are reimagining Dreamland and making sure you can take whatever you want from it.
"We want a 10-year-old to go there and be excited as well as an older person with lots of past memories of the place.
“There are families with no interest in heritage but want something different and interesting. We need it to be ever changing.
“You will be able to go every weekend during the summer and it won’t be the same.
“We wanted an amusement park with a heritage feel. It will have vintage festivals, food fairs and children’s festivals.
“And it will be quality. There will be no Roy Chubby Brown or Teletubbies. It will all be cool and authentic.”
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