Thant council will get a second valuation for the freehold of the Dreamland site, it was agreed today (September 2).
Cabinet members met this afternoon to discuss two recommendations put forward by the council’s scrutiny committee over the sale of the freehold to Dreamland park operator sands Heritage Ltd -owned by hedgefund Arrowgrass.
The proposals under discussion were to extend the 10 year restriction on housing development at the site to 18 years and for the council to get three-rather than the current one- valuations.
Freehold sale approval
On August 1, Thanet council Cabinet members approved in principle the sale of the freehold for the entire Dreamland site -including the council car park– subject to agreement from external funders regarding the removal of ongoing grant obligations upon the council, and subject to legal advice.
The sale will include the full complex, rides and the TDC restored cinema and Sunshine Café building, containing the ‘Dreamland Bars’, later famous for being the ‘Bali Hai’. It includes the restriction prohibiting housing development at the site for 10 years to tackle any possible planning application for development outside of leisure uses.
Sands Heritage Ltd currently holds a 99 year lease but the proposal would see the firm, under Arrowgrass, buy the freehold.
Savills has been appointed to carry out the valuation but, following a representation from Labour councillor and Scrutiny chairman Peter Campbell, council leader Bob Bayford said a second valuation would be sought, although it would be “at a cost.”
10 year development restriction
A second recommendation to extend the ban on development from 10 years to 18 years – when the obligations for Heritage Lottery funding expires- was rejected, although Cllr Bayford added: “This is just firing the starting gun for negotiations with the purchaser. There is a figure of 10 years and it is my understanding that that was a gesture of goodwill on behalf of the purchaser (SHP) to demonstrate their commitment that they are not looking at developing the site for houses but developing for leisure uses.
“My proposal is that we leave it at this stage at 10 years but the people negotiating on behalf of the council can explore a longer period if that is appropriate in those negotiations.”
The sale cannot be made without the agreement of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was one of the organisations providing grants to reopen the park in 2015, and this should mean the protection of heritage assets.
Talks for the sale have been taking place over the last 10 months.
The park initially reopened, with Sands Heritage at the helm, in 2015 following £19.4 million funding from the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s Sea Change programme, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Thanet District Council.
Arrowgrass, which bought all the shares in SHL after it went into administration, has since invested some £25million in re-landscaping, vintage rides restoration and the introduction of contemporary street food, eclectic bars, and a main stage since 2017.
The firm, which owns the Dreamland operating firm via holding company, Margate Estates Ltd, also has an option to purchase Arlington House.