Saturday, 18 August 2012

Thanet Council’s Dream of Dreamland

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.


  1. according to wikipedia Jimmy Godden sold Dreamland to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company in 2005 for £20m, so a £20 million price tag could just be a starting point.
    The current owners plans were for 474 dwellings. So I guess they will be asking about £25 millions for this part of the site and another £10 millons for the amusements and retail part of the site.

    1. A CPO is surely similar to the repossession of a house where the owners have defaulted, except that here the owners [who clearly have defaulted the people of Margate by doing nothing with the site for the last 7 years] will get some money back.
      It appears that the owners have a massive mortgage and no tangible assets or income so maybe we just wait for them to go into admin or bankruptcy?
      Otherwise, I would suggest that their original £20m is reduced by 10% for each year that the site has been derelict during their ownership.

  2. In the late 40's I lived as a child, age 7/8, in the 'Station Hotel' Margate [which became the Flag & Whistle and is now closed down]. I would fall asleep at night to the sound of the excited screams from the girls on the Scenic Railway.

    We advertised Dreamland in the Pub and so received complimentary tickets for the rides. Which meant that I spent much of the summer in Dreamland. Mostly on my own; for in those days it was perfectly safe and natural for a seven year old to wander out by themselves. In addition to the rides I was fascinated by the spielers on their stalls.

    Dreamland has gone now sadly never to return. Oh, there will be spin about how the site is to be used for entertainment which will persist for a couple of years before the land is inevitably sold for housing. Maybe this is the way it should be. I hope I'm wrong.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. There is a guidance book available (CPO on search engine) that states that the seller can expect the market value including the value as a development site. Since the owner has extensive plans for their own development they will be expecting top dollar. They can also get back the fee to pay their own valuation experts. The fact that the site has been unused for many years does not affect the current valuation. I hope TDC has a development partner lined up with deep pockets and maybe they have learned the lessons of appointing an offshore company with no track record of a simmilar project as they appeared to have done with Pleasurama.

  5. If the site doesn't have planning permission for housing then they can't expect to get the price as if it was to be sold for housing...

  6. Sorry annon 9.57. Oh yes they can!! The Council should already have a valuation and have a good idea of what will be claimed. I say should!! They should also make an immediate compensation payment. Again I say should!! Food for some FOI questions perhaps.

    1. The land is designated for recreation as far as I am aware, to be able to build houses its designation would have to be changed, if that is an accurate statement then it is only worth what it is worth as recreational land... which is much less than what it is worth if it was already available to build houses on.

  7. It would interesting to know what the Council have paid for other sites that they have acquired with our money.

  8. From he governmen ts CPO regulations:

    2.11 The value of the land is based upon what the land might be expected to
    realise if sold in the open market by a willing seller.
    2.12 In assessing the open market value of your land you are assumed to be a
    willing seller. However, it is assumed that you would only be willing to sell at
    the best price which you could reasonably achieve in the open market.
    2.13 This open market value may be based on the existing use of the property.
    However, it may reflect development value,

    So the fact that the owner has put plans in place for 474 dwelling but not recieved planning permission does not affect the valuation. the owner can assume that permission would have been given.
    Could be why the owner has spent a small fortune on preparing such plans.

  9. Its worth a read if you want to know the CPO regulations:
    CPO government doc

  10. Anon 5.06 - "Jimmy Godden sold Dreamland to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company" - Jimmy was the MTRC.

  11. Are you not worried the site will flood Michael? It is rather close to the sea ;-)

    1. Where have you been Anon 10.25? Work is currently underway, on schedule and due to be complete in Jan 2013 on the new £6 millions Margate Flood Defences project. So tell me Anon when Ramsgates defences were built?. Deal also is getting a new £10 millions scheme.

  12. Thanks for the comments, especially the cpo link, top marks for computing acumen as I know blogger don’t make it easy to add links to comments.

    I worked on both Pleasurama in Ramsgate and Dreamland in Margate in the 70s, both sites were prone to flooding then, in 1978 storm although Margate pier was demolished by the sea, I don’t think there was any damage to Dreamland. In Ramsgate the same storm stove in much of the frontage to Pleasurama filling the lower part of the main arcade, previously The Long Bar with seawater, there was a lot of damage to the electrical arcade machines. The astute operators turned this area into a pool table area, there were no electrics in pool tables then.

    I have been in Dreamland during a big rain storm and the drainage barely coped, but have never known it to fill with seawater during a storm, does anyone know of it doing so? In the 70s the cellars under the arcades were filled with old amusement machines and I don’t recall any of them being water damaged.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.