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Court backs plan to reopen Dreamland Margate as heritage amusement park

Dreamland Margate concept art

A court has backed the decision to grant a compulsory purchase order for the site of Margate's shuttered Dreamland park, paving the way for it reopen.

A High Court judge, His Honour Judge Sycamore, dismissed an appeal by the current owners of the site against the purchase order from Thanet District Council. He also refused to grant the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company permission to appeal.

The court case has slowed progress on plans to convert Dreamland into a heritage amusement park populated by historical attractions. The Dreamland Trust, which is behind the restoration efforts, had originally hoped that the park would reopen in summer 2013. However, work is unable to begin until the compulsory purchase order goes through.

The Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company had proposed an alternative plan involving the construction of 400 homes and a more limited amusement park. However, the council has continued to back the Dreamland Trust and is expected to grant it a lease to the site for a nominal rent.

Funds are in place for the restoration work, with the UK's Heritage Lottery having previously awarded the project a £3.7 million grant. A key element of the park's revival will be repairs to the famous Scenic Railway roller coaster, which will form the centrepiece of Dreamland when it returns to operation. The ride was badly damaged in arson attack in 2008, and has stood derelict ever since.

A number of vintage amusement park attractions have been rescued from other defunct seaside parks around the UK by the Dreamland Trust, and will now be rehomed at the updated park. These include the Cableway from Pleasureland Southport, the former Wild Mouse coaster from Morecambe’s Pleasure Park, and the Whip that was removed from Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 2008.

The Dreamland Trust hopes to attract 350,000 visitors a year to the updated Dreamland. Full details of the plans can be found on the Dreamland Margate website.

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