Published: 11:08, 21 December 2020
| Updated: 11:10, 21 December 2020
An iconic heritage theme park has been sold to help secure its long-term future.
Ownership of Dreamland in Margate today transferred from Thanet District Council to the current lessee and operator of the park, Sands Heritage Limited (SHL).
It marks completion of the sale of the much-loved, historic funfair, which this year celebrated its 100th birthday, but has been shut due to the pandemic.
The amusement park, the undercover building housing The Hall by the Sea and The Ballroom, along with the seafront cinema building are all included in the sale.
Cabinet members at Thanet council agreed in August 2019 to sell the freehold of the site in order to secure a long-term, viable future for Dreamland.
The authority has owned the site since September 2013 following a Compulsory Purchase Order which led to the reopening of the reimagined amusement park in 2015, with big music events as part of its offering.
SHL has operated the park since its reopening and holds the site on a 99-year lease.
Leader of Thanet District Council Cllr Rick Everitt says the sale is a significant milestone for Thanet.
"It marks the successful completion of the council’s bold move to CPO this iconic seafront site," he said.
"The council’s intervention had widespread community support and was absolutely necessary to protect Dreamland and its important heritage assets, which had fallen into considerable disrepair.
"We believe the council’s actions have given Dreamland the best possible chance to be central to Margate’s future, as well as a much loved part of its past."
He says funding by the council, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled transformation of the important heritage attraction.
"We’ve already seen thousands of visitors head to our original seaside resort as a result," he added.
"Sale of the entire complex will unlock the continued regeneration of other parts of the site and provide more opportunities for further investment and expertise that the council would simply not be in a position to provide, while protecting the elements that matter most to our residents and visitors.
"It is critical that we do all we can to support the local economy with many businesses affected by the widespread impacts of Covid-19.
"Today’s sale is the culmination of many years of hard work and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their support, in particular The Dreamland Heritage Trust, who have been a key part of ensuring that Dreamland’s heritage is protected and developed."
Andrew Baker, acting chair of the Trust, says the sale of the site should help with further investment.
"This will ensure that Sands Heritage Ltd keeps growing Dreamland into a thriving business at the heart of Margate’s regeneration," he said.
"Throughout the sale process we have been working with SHL, Thanet District Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund to ensure that the heritage aspects of the park are retained and enhanced, both now and in the future.
"Following the sale of the Dreamland site we have reached an agreement with SHL as to how our two organisations will work collaboratively in the future.
"In this way the uniqueness of Dreamland – its heritage – is protected and grown in tandem with this new chapter of the Dreamland story."
Conditions are attached to the sale to ensure that the listed heritage structures are protected and a restrictive covenant is in place to control future use of the site and retain it for leisure.