Sale of Dreamland owning company means entire assets – park estate, hotel plot, car park, land – and option on Arlington on market

Dreamland Photo Frank Leppard

The real estate and leisure company which owns Dreamland has been put on the market and is being offered for ‘acquisition’ through property specialists Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).

It means the entire Dreamland estate, including the Dreamland car park purchased from TDC, parcels of land surrounding the site inclusive of the plot secured for a new 124-bed hotel, and the option to purchase Arlington House, multi-storey and land, is being offered as assets of the company.

A brochure issued by JLL says: “On behalf of Margate Estates Limited (MEL), JLL are disposing of a real estate and leisure holding company which owns c.17.5 acres of iconic British seaside on the shores of Kent at Margate Main Sands beach which includes:

  • Iconic indoor and outdoor events space
  • Consented seafront hotel development site
  • Mixed use development opportunity
  • Amusement park

“In addition, MEL have an option to acquire a 140 year leasehold interest in a residential tower, retail units and a three storey car park in Arlington Square.

“The subject sites provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved with a catalytic resort regeneration scheme in one of Kent’s most treasured locations and to develop and grow the creative movement that currently thrives in Margate.”

Listed in the brochure as the assets are:

Art Deco Events Centre

Cinque Ports Restaurant

Dreamland Amusement Park

Dreamland car park

Triangle development site

Outdoor events site

Option for Arlington House & Square

Hotel plot

Margate Estates Dreamland hotel image

The proposed Sea View Hotel is listed as: “Numbers 43-49 Marine Terrace have planning consent for the construction of a seafront boutique hotel. The hotel will house 124 rooms, 3 restaurant/bar areas, retail units, a gymnasium, conference/meeting spaces and a fantastic public rooftop bar. The plot measures: c.16,500 sq ft / 0.4 acre.”

Triangle development

Image JLL brochure

“The Triangle development site is adjacent to the Dreamland car park and comprises c.40,000 sq ft / 0.9 acre of vacant, unconsented potential development land. Subject to the necessary consents, it could be suitable for residential or commercial development.”

Car park

Image JLL brochure

“Dreamland car park sits to the east of the amusement park and is a surface car park with 400 spaces and covers c.152,000 sq ft / 3.5 acres. It is one of two of the largest car parks with access to Margate Main Sands. Subject to the necessary consents, this is suitable for redevelopment and a multi storey car park could be developed in the future.”

Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports

“Cinque Ports (50 Marine Terrace) is a Grade II listed, operational restaurant and bar which fronts onto Marine Terrace with views over Margate Main Sands. The restaurant at ground floor level has capacity for 300 people and the bar at lower ground floor level (The Quarter Deck) has capacity for 120 people. The building measures c.8,300 sq ft NIA and c.10,200 sq ft GIA over four storeys with pub/ restaurant on ground and lower ground floor and office/ancillary and residential space on the top two floors.”

Dreamland amusement park


“Dreamland Amusement Park (Grade II* listed) is synonymous with Margate as a seaside resort and comprises:

Three indoor events spaces (Hall by the Sea, the Ballroom and the Roller Disco/Diner) ƒ Indoor arcades and a roller disco

Two outdoor events spaces (Scenic Stage and Events Space)

An outdoor amusement park The Hall by the Sea measures c.36,650 sq ft GIA and has a capacity of 1,200 people standing. It can be used as an independent conference/ exhibition space and also a live concert venue as the green rooms and catering facilities for artists run along a corridor on the floor below and have separate access points via the rear of the stage.

The Ballroom measures c. 3,500 sq ft GIA and has a capacity of 500 standing. Like the Hall by the Sea it can house either conferences or live music events as it also has access to the green rooms and catering facilities. Family events such as weddings take place here regularly.

The indoor arcades, concession area and roller disco/diner are at ground floor level and open out on to the amusement park. This area measures c. 35,900 sq ft GIA.”

“The amusement park houses a blend of iconic heritage and modern thrill experiences, the main attraction being the Scenic Railway which is 101 years old and is the oldest wooden rollercoaster in the UK. The park is a major footfall driver and creates volume. Following the Free to Enter model being introduced in 2019, visitation has grown to 700,000 per annum.


“ The Scenic Stage and the Events Space are outdoor events arenas adjacent to the amusement park that have 5,000 and 15,000 people capacity respectively. Live music concerts and entertainment events are regularly held here with facilities to house a variety of food and beverage outlets as required.

“Long term, there is a possibility for the expansion of the Scenic Stage outdoor events arena or for a larger scale redevelopment to include the Dreamland Car Park. To the south east of the Scenic Stage arena, MEL also own the land and buildings at 45-55 Eaton Road which provide a rear site access point from a main road.”

Cinema building

“Built in 1935, The Art Deco events centre is Grade II* listed and built over several levels, measuring c.58,200 sq ft GIA. The building is currently stripped out but comprises two former cinema spaces, a theatre/auditorium and bingo hall, a retail / gallery space, private entertaining spaces and a former seafront restaurant whose fully glazed front wall looks out over Margate Main Sands. Subject to match funding, there is an opportunity to access c. £4 million in grant funding for restoring and converting the building.”


Image JLL brochure

“Arlington House and Square is a sprawling complex which houses an 18 storey residential tower (Arlington House), a 500 space three storey car park and c. 30,000 sq ft of now derelict retail (Arlington Square). The site measures c. 4.23 acres and built in 1964 and designed by Russell Diplock & Associates, the sides of the building have a wave like design providing both inland and sea views from every apartment

“This site is not currently owned Freehold by MEL but MEL have an option to acquire the whole site. The site has been earmarked in the Local Plan as being suitable for redevelopment.”

The brochure also lists possible actions for 2021 – 2023 as:

Exercise Arlington Square development site option and begin planning process for creation of hotel and new retail at Arlington North and residential at Arlington South

Begin planning process for creation of conferencing facilities in the Art Deco Events Centre

Begin planning process for creation of modular hotel on Triangle Development site

Begin planning process for creation of glamping site

Build out Seafront Hotel

Dreamland operating company is Sands Heritage Ltd. The immediate parent company is Margate Estates Limited, a company registered in Guernsey, and the ultimate controlling party is Arrowgrass Master Fund Limited, a company registered in the Cayman Islands.

The registered owning company for the hotel plot and Cinque Ports building is AG MARGATE PROPCO 1 LIMITED, based in Guernsey.

An asking/acquisition price has not been listed. Which of the companies listed above is the subject of the disposal offer has not listed.

‘Seeking major investment’

Yesterday (June 17) MEL issued a statement to say they are seeking major investment for the next phase of the Margate Estates development project.

The statement said: “This investment is for the purpose of realising a creative, arts and culture led vision to improve and develop their estate. The strategy is to create a world class 365-day a year, all weather, multipurpose entertainment centre with upgraded event and conference facilities, 124-bed seafront hotel, several restaurant and bar venues, retail spaces and a multi storey carpark (all subject to planning permission).”

MEL added: “However, the current appeal of the site is seasonal, and largely attracts domestic tourists and the leisure market. MEL are now seeking investment to significantly grow visitation beyond the peak season and broaden its appeal to the international and business tourist markets.

“A 365-visitor offer is essential to the continued success of Margate as it will provide the ability to offer year-round employment, rather than just seasonal, with Dreamland being a large employer of young people. Furthermore, some of the spaces within the estate will be available for community groups and local charities to utilise.

“This new investment is sought in addition to the £50million already invested by MEL into Margate, and the recent investment of £7million to purchase the freehold of Dreamland.”

Dreamland CEO Eddie Kemsley added: “ By seeking this investment, the possibility of a world class entertainment centre, which will attract many more visitors to the town is in sight.

“MEL is passionate about the development of Margate having invested heavily already. By developing the Dreamland Cinema building and creating an all-weather visitor attraction we intend to dramatically improve the Margate seafront, and offer locals and visitors a broader range of entertainment, all year round. We can’t wait to get started.”

Sale by Thanet council

The Dreamland estate was sold by Thanet council to park operator Sands Heritage Ltd for £7million at the end of last year, with completion on the car park last month.

The sale, one of the biggest asset disposals in Thanet council’s history, included the amusement park, the TDC restored Dreamland cinema and Sunshine Café building and the 400 space car park.

The terms include a restriction prohibiting housing development at the site for 10 years to tackle any possible planning application outside of leisure uses. Conditions are also attached to ensure that the listed heritage structures are protected and the council has secured undertakings from SHL that the same number of public car parking spaces will remain.

The sale of Dreamland park, cinema, scenic railway, rides and intellectual property, completed on December 18, was for £2.3million and the exchange of contracts for the sale of the car park, which took place on the same day and should be completed in April, was for £4.7m.

Find the brochure here

Dreamland estate £7 million sale price confirmed

£4million Town Deal cash towards entertainment and conference centre plans for Dreamland Cinema


  1. well it appears they will get what they wanted all along , and it will be covered in houses, if theres any one left in eastern europe that hasnt made it here to thanet , they will be able to build a giant ghetto. holiday resort = my ar*e !!!

    • If you really believe Margate’s issues are caused by Eastern European’s you haven’t spent much time in Margate…. Margate’s troubles have been 40Plus years in the makings and the locally bred are as bigger an issue. Try and put your xenophobic views aside and look at the real issues

  2. couldnt make it up, TDC sell for a pittance and then along comes big big profits to owners to sell on, when are TDC going to wake up to this corrupt system with companies walking all over them

    • As long as the brown envelopes and horse trading carry on nothing will change. Thanet council needs an external investigation as something is just not right with most of the decisions. It is like the council want to run the place into the ground.

      The first thing that needs to happen is the £4m taken off the table, made no sense in the first place, why the hell are the council giving a PRIVATELY owned company money. the only reason I can think of is if there was something in it privately for someone involved.

      Enough is enough with this council, the are an embarrassment to Thanet and to the people that pay for them. They surely can;t think they are doing a good job.

    • When the sale price for this lot comes to light it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the valuations that were commissioned by TDC which came up with the 7m sale price. Though likely it was figure that enough to settle other debts.

  3. Well that was very predictable now wasn’t it? It did surprise me how soon it happened though as wasn’t expecting so quickly after they bought the car park and ground on the cheap. This is a blatant form of money laundering. The site being sold on the cheap by TDC should have been illegal as not in the best interests of the community they represent. The extra bonuses coming in the way of millions of pounds of grants through various platforms, one being the Margate Town Team CEO awarding herself £4 million from it when many other more worthy projects were snubbed. That was also predicted by many residents.
    TDC must now put a stop to that money being transferred to Dreamland as it is possible corruption. I expect a lot of backhanders will have been put in place to those on the board and those at TDC. Surely some authority is looking at what is going on in Thanet and going to do something to stop this blatant fraud !!

  4. Hopefully an operator like Merlin entertainment might look at buying it , they run Blackpool pleasure beach , Chessington , etc . But please Not housing !

  5. Totally agree with all comments should have seen this coming at this stage has the 4 million have to be approved by central government first it may not give the money is there any cinema buffs out there who want to preserve the Dreamland cinema for Margate.

  6. Why aren’t the national media all over this? Absolutely disgusting and if the £4 million of our money doesn’t get returned there should be a blockade of Marine Terrace. The people of Margate deserve better than this! They are treating us as a cash cow, both TDC and their cronies milking the people for all they can!!!

  7. The whole Thanet District Council Leadership need sacking and we need to start again with people who live in and have an interest in Thanet prospering. We need local people with a desire to see Margate and Thanet improve stand for local seats. The cesspit at Cecil Square needs draining!!!

  8. Yet again Thanets had its trousers pulled down and the council has no protections in place to stop it , if it wasn’t so important to thanet it’d be just too comical to believe. And the councillors and executive staff over the last 10 years couldn’t see this train wreck in the making?
    My guess – bought by an “offshore investor” cloakedin mystery and looking for a way to launder lots of money, nothing much will happen unless its what they want and the council will agree to it eventually to keep the ball rolling , all involved should hang their heads in shame.
    Lets see what the next installment ofvthe fiasco brings.

  9. Many individuals involved or formerly involved with Arrowgrass walked away with prime real estate in the town insulated from their creditors when they effectively went bust . It was an open secret that all the assets would be sold off when Arrowgrass had leached all it could out of TDC and the selling off of the freehold paves the way for further opaque and dubious transactions further down the line .The £4 million grant recently secured just adds insult to injury and is the latest of a continued series of questionable decisions supported by the council.
    Whilst the senior officer team at TDC is culpable and must take responsibility for this ongoing fiasco ,successive political administrations and not least the labour group have been taken for a ride, having claimed the recent sell off represented a great deal for the town. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knew that an unaccountable hedge fund was only in it for themselves and Dreamland has proved a lucrative vehicle for individuals to achieve this .
    It will be interesting to see how negotiations between any prospective investors and Freshwater result over the Arlington site including the iconic Arlington House.

      • Unlike many local authorities TDC do not even maintain a local list of buildings of architectural cultural or social importance or merit.It is unlikely that their planning department will take any lead on this matter. If listing on a local or national register is to take place it will have to be sought by concerned individuals.
        Arlington House is an iconic brutalist block historically undervalued and under appreciated,
        although the tide is turning as interest in this style of architecture is returning.

        • The council has actively opposed Arlington being listed in past so its very unlikely ther’ll be any help from that quarter and its pretty much inconceivable that the freehold owners will want it listed. ( unless it gives them access to grant money)

          I’ve always thought it an impressive building that could be quite spectacular if maintained and repaired. I’d turn the top floor into a nightclub/restaurant/casino , with hotel on next few floors down. Though obviously very difficult to achieve as it’d likely mean moving existing residents who will rightly value the views they have.

          It should be one of thanets prime addresses. Hough its very much a marmite building.

        • I thought the hotel was going in “ goddens gap”, but anyhting is possible. Interesting that the Nayland rock is not up for sale, i thought that was owned by same company.

          • I think the Triangle hotel is in addition to the Godden Gap hotel which already has planning permission

          • The nayland rock is owned by an individual with historic close connections to Arrowgrass and Sands heritage ltd . Much of the real estate in the town hoovered up in financial transactions in supposedly keeping Dreamland Afloat served to enrich those individuals who through clever accounting practices were insulated against any claim against them when arrowgrass’s creditors called in their loans .

          • It seems we are looking at three hotels – one in Goddens Gap (planning already granted); one on the Arlington site facing Marine Terrace (outline planning consent in place); and a further hotel on the ‘triangle’ site adjacent Dreamland car park.

  10. One thing that is for sure-whoever buys it will not be retaining the hapless Kemsley, she will be on her way-like she was a year after it reopened.

  11. It will be interesting to see who buys this lot? Any TDC connection should be investigated, remember Sandy Ezekiel anyone?

  12. This is areal shocker – Local Govt Ombudsman? Audit Commission? Or how about TDC’s old friends, the ineffectual and every ready to please and smooth over the cracks external auditor Grant Thornton?

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