Unless you have missed all of the local news you will be aware that Thanet District Council have won their case to compulsorily purchase Dreamland. Like The Turner Contemporary this is a further move to regenerate Margate using public finance.
I am now going to speculate about the funding, this is not area where I have much expertise, so corrective comment would be helpful.
The money the council will use to change the derelict site into a heritage theme park, about £10m comes from a £3m lottery grant, a £3.7m sea change grant and about £4m from Thanet District Council.
The other part, where I am a bit more mystified about is the money to pay for the compulsory purchase, what is the site worth?
I suppose the answer to this one depends on what the site can be used for, for instance if it were agricultural land and the owner was only allowed to grow crops on it, then the site value would be less than £1m.
At the other end of the scale, if it were prime building land one would expect the site value to be something very much higher.
When the site was operated as an amusement park, like any business the site value related to the profits generated by that business. Of course the value of the site in terms of selling it as part of a business wouldn’t be separated out in that way. In a purely hypothetical situation, it would be possible to buy an amusement park as a going concern for perhaps £5m mostly based on the profits made by the amusement park, say £0.5m per year. It could be possible to secure grant funding to improve the site, say £3m and then sell the best rides for a couple of million. I guess the net result of selling the best rides would mean that the amusement park failed but wouldn’t have cost anything, so it would then be reasonable to say that as the amusement park had failed the site would be better suited to something else, I guess the highest value land would be land with permission to build housing on.
Anyway all this muddled and hypothetical reasoning leads to the question, how much money will the council have to find to purchase the land, will it be related to the site’s value as housing land, which I guess would be over £20m or will it be related to the site’s value as an amusement park.
There is another side to this coin, which it doesn’t actually take a lot of time to set up a fun fair on the Dreamland site, the links below take you to pictures of the fun fair there last year.
I think this funfair took about a day to set up.
In a general sense I don’t think most heritage rides take more than about four hours to put up, this is an area where I do have some expertise as I worked, as an engineer, for want of a better word, for Jimmy Chipperfied’s fairs in the 1960s. We moved the fair every week and got paid for the week when all the rides were up and running properly.