Objections have been lodged by residents, police and the council’s environmental health officer to proposals from Dreamland to extend licensing hours until 4am for indoor events and treble the number of large events.
The current licences are split into two areas: the external event space and the internal areas which include Hall By the Sea, Roller Disco and Ball Room.
The external event space has conditions which restrict the number of large events to four two-dayers per year at 75dB and 12 events at 15dB above background.
Internally licensed areas have a noise limiting condition and may operate until 2am.
But the proposed application is asking for 8 events at 75dB, 16 events at 70dB and 24 events at 65dB with an increase from events lasting two days going up to 4 days, four times per year on the ‘temporary stage’ Outdoor events will be able to run between 9am and 11pm.
Recorded and live entertainment indoors at Hall by the Sea, the Ballroom and Roller Disco, would also see hours extended from a 2am finish to 4am.
Large events cater for up to “19,999” people. A sound management plan has been included with the application.
Residents, particularly those at neighbouring Arlington House, have objected to the plans.
Representation from A Better Arlington on behalf of residents in the block says: “The new licence application seeks a significant increase in the number of events, potentially outdoor events on both days of every weekend during the summer months.
“Furthermore, the application seeks four four-day events which we understand would be all day events, some seven hours in duration from morning to night whether that be midweek or for example Friday to Monday. It is these multi day daytime events that are particularly disruptive and unwelcome to residents.
“Indoor events wish to be licenced until 4am, which presents the potential for late night and early morning noise and public nuisance unless properly managed.
“It is now six years since the reopening of Dreamland and over that time, it is clear that the business model is evolving from funfair to live entertainment venue as determined by the new licence application.”
A Better Arlington also says indoor events will still cause disruption due to poor insulation and Dreamland not investing in appropriate specialist soundproofing and bass dampening measures.
The representation concludes that Dreamland’s significance of a specialist indoor and outdoor live entertainment venue in Margate is recognised, particularly with the closures of Margate Winter Gardens and Theatre Royal. However: “Due consideration must be given to the disproportionate and unreasonable encroachment on the peaceful enjoyment of a resident’s property, loss of living and working from home amenity and the deleterious effect on the psychological wellbeing and quality of life for the local residential population that a 19-hour per day seven day per week operating and entertainment licence would create.”
A response from Kent Police requests trading hours for all licensable activities indoors end at 2am.
The Force raised several areas that need clarification and more detail and highlighted the possibility of antisocial behaviour and the impact on parking and from noise on residents.
Acting Chief Inspector Ian Swallow says in the representation: “Kent Police are concerned that any event has the potential to impact the local residential community either as a noise nuisance or impacting those living in the immediate area surrounding Dreamland through traffic disruption, Anti-Social Behaviour or Public Disorder. The License as requested does not provide sufficient information to allay the concerns of the District Police establishment.
“The police have been made aware and attended for disorder during two large music events in 2022; Rudimental and Craig David.
“To grant this application as requested would have detrimental effect on the residents and would have a serious impact on the local community and transport infrastructure. This will be particularly evident during the peak Summer season, where tourism increases visitors to the district considerably.
“The lack of public transport to disperse people at the proposed closing time of 04:00 will leave the local area open to public disorder (the potential for twenty thousand people being ejected into a highly populated residential area, at such an unsociable hour, is above and beyond even the sum of late licence patrons across the rest of the district).
“People will be unable to find accommodation at such a time and may resort to the local beaches to sleep off the effects of the night before. The risk to life is considerable with these numbers potentially exposed to hostile environmental conditions.
“There will be a secondary impact on the environment and further impact on the council operatives cleaning the beaches making them ready for the tourist footfall on peak, or basic environmental considerations the next day. These considerations would have a major impact on local policing after any large scale event and would place the safety and security of the public at a higher risk due to the resource intensive factors above.”
Some revisions to licensing conditions have since been agreed between Dreamland and Kent Police.
Environmental Health say that since the first licence was granted for Dreamland in June 2015, 83 noise complaints, from 74 separate households, have been received.
The EH officer says: “Dreamland’s existing licence is already at the limit of acceptability; the location and open air nature of the venue does not support the number of external events at the sound levels proposed.
“For internally licensed areas, any increase beyond existing 2am will have the potential for public nuisance and is opposed by EH unless areas used for regulated entertainment have an acoustic assessment to determine outbreak and implement mitigation to ensure residents are not unreasonably disturbed from events which are proposed to go on until 4am.”
One Arlington House resident said the license application amounts to a change of use for the park
They said: “Dreamland until recently was an outdoor amusement park catering for tourists during the day and primarily during the summer season.
“The new licence application changes this dramatically. It is clear that the intention is no longer to continue operating as such. The removal of many of the park’s rides is witness to this. This new application suggests that the park’s owners now intend to turn the venue into an all year round events venue. Surely this is a change of use of the premises requiring more than just a new licence application.”
Last year Dreamland’s Pendulum thrillseeker ride was transported to its new home in Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach site. According to Pleasure Beach bosses the Pendulum was one of six rides that were up for sale.
Rides made by Zamperla and installed at the Margate amusement park in 2018 were also advertised for sale on specialist website Interlink.
Letters of support have been submitted by six residents, businesses including Fort Road Hotel, The Albion Rooms, Café Darcy, Cinque Ports, Southeastern, Stagecoach South East, Faith in Strangers, Turner Contemporary, People dem Collective, East Kent College and Shepherd Neame.
A representation from The Albion Rooms says: “The Albion Rooms has always been an advocate for Dreamland as the events bring a wave of much needed tourism to Margate, especially in the wake of the closure of both the Winter Gardens and the Theatre Royal, both of which have left a huge hole in our yearly tourism; which Dreamland is perfectly placed to pick up.
“The events are beneficial to us personally as it actively increases room bookings, in advance, so we have guaranteed income and it also brings revenue up to Clittonville. For example – we are already fully booked due to the Happy Mondays/Primal Scream event at Dreamland which is comfort to us in turbulent times.
“The benefit to Margate of more events is tantamount as the tourism they bring supports lots of local businesses throughout the summer. This increased revenue provides jobs for local people and secures the future of our hospitality businesses; we’ve already lost several great businesses to the cost of living crisis (Love, London Tavern, Ouma’s to name a few). These events increase visibility of Margate and put it on the map! We’ve recently had some great national publicity and need to live up to this and continue to draw people to Margate. Dreamland is crucial to the artistic culture that is the beating heart of Margate.”
Stagecoach added: “Thanet is a vital location for us and we are proud to serve the local community. From our perspective, Dreamland is a hugely positive part of Thanet and we are very supportive of the local team looking for new, innovative ways to both serve the local community, and create an attractive proposition to I crease visitors to Thanet who in turn contribute to the local economy which benefits the wider Thanet community.”
“Dreamland does have optionality to move some of these events inside to our undercover venues; Hall by the Sea, Roller Room and Ballroom. Strategically, the company plans to mitigate this risk by an extensive redevelopment of its undercover areas in order to reduce the seasonality and weather risk.”
Margate WI also offered support, saying: “It’s a bonus for people living in Kent (as events are attended not just by people in Thanet but people from all over the county), as it means people don’t have to travel to London or beyond. We have been incredibly lucky to have names like De La Soul, Gorillaz, Noel Galllagher and the Beach Boys play, names which usually headline festivals.”
The representation from Turner Contemporary says: “With an approved TDC Iicence, Dreamland could increase the number of events they are able to host, As such, there would be wider implications, increasing visitor numbers to Turner Contemporary and other organisations and businesses in Margate and developing the night-time economy which is key to Margate. Visitors are integral to the success of our town.
“The more people who visit, the more we are able to continue doing the essential work that feeds into the wider community through social, economic and cultural enterprise.”
A submission from Dreamland says: “This application for a consolidated and extended licence would not be made unless the elements applied for were not all carefully considered and necessary for the ongoing financial viability of Dreamland.
“The numbers and types of events, and the parameters within which they need to operate have been carefully assessed, with the location of Dreamland firmly in mind, including the residential aspects, and the application is commercially necessary, not speculative.”
Figures for 2021 show an operating loss of £1.73m. In 2020 the loss was £5.5m. Overall balance sheet losses carried for the company now total £36,856,938. The accounts show turnover of £252,063 for park operations and £671,499 for events last year.
The latest accounts for park owner Sands Heritage Ltd say the plan is to develop the indoor area at the site. The report from directors says: “As a predominantly outdoor visitor attraction, the core park operating business is inherently seasonal and very much weather dependent. Similarly, events which are programmed outside either on the Scenic Stage or Events area are open to the elements, but to a certain extent are less weather dependent due to the majority of tickets being purchased in advance.”
Gigs lined up this year include Sir Tom Jones, Will Young, Bastille, McFly, Olly Murs, Primal Scream and Happy Mondays.
The proposals will be discussed by councillors on the licensing committee tomorrow (February 1).
Help us to continue bringing you Thanet news with a donation towards our running costs https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YF7BH2EF4UG2N