New Dreamland owners LN-Gaiety turn down £4million of funding from Margate Town Deal


An allocation of £4million to Dreamland from the £22.2m Margate Town Deal fund has been turned down by the park’s new owners LN-Gaiety – a subsidiary of concert and festival giant Live Nation.

The funding had been earmarked to be used towards the renovation and reopening the Dreamland  cinema building which has been empty for more than a decade.

The site was to be turned into an entertainment and conference centre with space allocated to community use.

The allocation caused controversy with some questioning why the privately owned business would be receiving public funds.

Thanet council has now announced that LN-Gaiety will not be accepting the grant and a decision will now be made on how it will be reallocated to other Town Deal projects.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We have been notified by Dreamland of its intention not to accept the £4million allocated from the Margate Town Deal. This follows the recent acquisition of Sands Heritage Ltd by LN-Gaiety.

“There will now need to be a decision around how this sum will be allocated. We are committed to ensuring that approved Margate Town Deal projects benefit from this funding and that this is achieved by the March 2026 deadline.

“The first step will be to get clarification from the government on what is possible. It should be noted that the funding cannot be reallocated to a new project that does not already have government approval through the Margate Town Investment Plan.

“With any reallocation of this funding, the outputs such as jobs and refurbishment of heritage buildings, will still need to be met.

“An overview of the situation will be provided in a report, for Cabinet members to note at a meeting on Thursday 29 February.”

Eddie Kemsley, CEO at Sands Heritage Ltd, said: “We will develop a plan for the cinema building that is both financially viable and in keeping with Dreamland’s history of entertainment.

“With that in mind we have taken the decision not to accept the £4 million from the Margate Town Deal fund. We hope this money can be redistributed to other projects to benefit the regeneration of Margate and its legacy of leisure and entertainment.”

County Councillor Barry Lewis said: “The £4million now should be spent on a project that would benefit the whole of Margate society rather than on a private company.”

The Live Nation subsidiary took significant control of Dreamland from Sands Heritage last December. The subsidiary is jointly controlled by Live Nation Entertainment Inc through Live Nation (Music) UK Limited and Ronmall Unlimited Company through its subsidiary Gaiety. MCD Productions Unlimited Company was acquired by LN-Gaiety Holdings Limited when the merger was cleared by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in 2019.

Festival and concert giant Live Nation new owner of Dreamland

Margate Town Deal projects

The Winter Gardens Photo Frank Leppard

£300,000  Margate Winter Gardens

£2m Theatre Royal

£750,000 Margate Skatepark


£6 9m Margate Creative Land Trust

£1.1m Access Walpole

£900k for outreach/education programmes

£5.3m highway/public realm schemes

What was planned for Dreamland’s cinema: £4million Town Deal cash towards entertainment and conference centre plans for Dreamland Cinema


  1. No more tax payers money required less of a issue for when it is demolished and replace with apartments for the rich.

    • Agree 100% Spend whats needed on the Winter Gardens. There is no excuse whatsoever to not allocate the funds to it.

      • Wow! 4 million that could bring the Winter Gardens back to life. A great dream but will the present unrevealed plan to let it rot beyond restoration be abandoned or do we still expect it to become housing for the mega rich?

    • Surely there can be no more excuses or delays from TDC.

      Spend this unexpected windfall on the Winter Gardens (where it should have been spent in the first instance) and get the building up and running ASAP.

    • Not being rude but Birchington isn’t margate and street clearing is paid for by our council tax so your quite right it should be happening regardless! This money shouldn’t be spent on the everyday things but on the projects that are needed to make our area as good as others.

      • Yes agreed make buildings for our homeless and stop ignoring our social housing needs. When i see these stories it clearly shows our councils ignorance with trying to give private owners a grant for council owned peoperty? Basic ethos of wasting money. Why even allocate of theres a remote chance it wouldnt be accepted. Seriouly the competence of the whole affair stinks. Social housing over money making. Or losing money if they had accepted. Questioning the competence of Thanet District Council daily.

      • The owners clearly do not want to reopen or renovate anything with public money. Would be bad optics were they to / when they sell the whole lot & the bulldozers come in – grist to the mill of us locals who are just a little unhappy already

  2. Thanet District Council regeneration department are a disgrace and should all be sacked. This money will make no difference to the community and with new business plans needed this is a disaster. The money will have to be returned to government.

  3. the whole of dreamland will be earmarked for developement , i bet those develpoper / money grabbers have sleepless nights about all that flat land with easy acess just standing there , no doubt a heavy envelope will need a push

  4. Why would any business turn down £4 million pounds?No negotiations etc. all sorted.Is it the smell of the seaweed in the harbour or do i smell something fishy?

    • I expect there are lots of terms and conditions if they were to take the £4,000,000 so refused it. There’s more to this than meets the eye. The new owners of dreamland are not impressed with their dealings with both the previous administration of TDC or the current Labour one. More news about this will follow in due course.

  5. On the face of it this seems a very good thing . For me two questions remain.
    Firstly will this money be able to be reallocated to other existing schemes ?
    What does this say about any plans by the new owners of the park to finish the refurbishment of the listed Cinema , despite huge amounts of public money having been spent , it is still semi-derelict.
    Regrettably this a national scandal of shocking proportions , certainly an embarrassment to our local elected officials of all political persuasions.

    • I said in 2021 when dreamland was offered £4 million of taxpayers money the same question. But it should be remembered at the time the chair of the town deal board was the chief executive of dreamland!! At the time i (diplomatically) called it a CONFLICT of INTEREST. So i assume the new owners withdrew as they read the history of this ‘strange “offer and the stink it has caused locally

      • You are incorrect.

        Eddie has never been the chair of the board.

        She sat on the people panel and headed it up. This was a paid initiative set up by the council and did not follow any government rules.

        • She was chair of the panel of town deal board, to be pedantic ,still a conflict of interest, big time

          • I admit I’m very uncertain about how all this works. But … surely if TDC were to have had a hand in re-building the cinema via the Town Deal money, then any subsequent ‘asset disposal’ by the owners of Dreamland would look particularly bad. Why would they take the money if they plan to sell the site to make mega-bucks?
            Big business doesn’t see problems, only opportunities. But still the bad publicity generated by trashing an asset that has been partly funded by public money has to be taken into account.
            I so hope I’m completely wrong.

      • You are incorrect, I challenged you on this before and you agreed Ms Kemsley was not the chair of the Town Deal but chair of the people’s panel. Why are you now perpetuating this lie?

        • Eddie was on the board and chair of the important people’s board, she had a major influence in how the process and how money was distributed. That is at best a conflict of interest. Dont try to rewrite history.and why are hiding your name eddie?

  6. lets not forget that the Cliftonville Oval Bandstand also refused to accept the grant money. The town deal is a a disaster.

  7. I was speaking to someone the day who has a business in the seafront area ,and he ,said he thinks ,Dreamland wants to buy the ,those flats next to Dreamland ,for a new purpose

  8. I believe we, as ratepayers and part owners of the Winter Gardens, have a right to know what state the inside of the Winter Gardens is now in. Heavy Rains, a leaking roof and no working boilers or heating will almost certainly have caused further degradation and mean that even more urgent repair work will be required. So, there is no decision to be made. As was originally intended use the 4 million to do urgent repairs and stop the Winter Gardens Becoming an eyesore instead of a building which will help boost the holiday trade and therefore the economy.

  9. Think LN-Gaiety need to urgently put out a statement explaining the reasons behind their decision to stop all the speculation. I do hope they are going to continue with the refurbishment of the cinema 🤷🏻‍♂️

    • “Continue” there has been no work on the cinema or any real proposals for years in respect of the cinema, much of it’s interior has reportedly been trashed when the metal work was ripped out. It obviously doesn’t fit in with the new owners plans and patently the grounds on which the 4 million was initially allocated don’t chime with anything they want to do with the site.
      If as suggested in another post , they are dissilussioned with their dealings with the council ,it rather casts doubt on Dreamlands future, given that it is currently owned by an entitywith plenty of experience and financial backing to do something substantial, be interesting to see what transpires.

        • By turning down the money they’ve no need to be involved with the Dem collective nonsense and can instead do something on a commercial basis , using ( for a change) their own money and as such make sensible practical decisions. Well hopefully.

  10. The Oval Bandstand and Dreamland both had to match fund the amount they were due to receive from the Town Deal, Go figure.

    • Sad but true – if that is the case that means none of the projects will continue, theatre Royal has NO MATCH – Walpole Bay NO MATCH, winter gardens NO MATCH – go figure…

      • Dreamland and The Oval were the only ones who needed to match fund. The other projects were all on publc land or buildings owned by the Council. £8m would have been an enormous amount to spend on the cinema. Common sense has prevailed.

  11. It should be noted that the funding cannot be reallocated to a new project that does not already have government approval through the Margate Town Investment Plan. It cannot just be given to the Winter Gardens, try reading the article. Live Nation do not need the funds, they have more than enough and do not want bad publicity. Enough people locally moan about the outside gigs and no the flats by Dreamland are being demolished, they have no interest in them. For want of a better term they were badly constructed by a Guy called Gerald. As is much of the new housing in Thanet.

  12. It’s not just the Margate Town Deal projects that the cash can be reallocated to. If TDC so wish they can move it to other large capital projects included in the Levelling Up Fund such as the Margate Digital College project which has gone nowhere fast in the last 3 years.

  13. Let’s not forget the deeply ingrained incompetence of TDC, we’ve, left and right administrations aided by mediocre council “officers” result in millions wasted.

    Say goodbye to the winter gardens and the theatre royal.

    Just look at the council staff and how they’ve spent many hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees internally on dispute between themselves and no doubt walked away with fat payouts and a non disclosure agreement.

    • Margate Bloke – And do not forget a succession of incompetent Councillors of all parties both local TDC and KCC. Not an ounce of entrepreneurial brains between them! So sad these people run our lives with their decisions.

  14. The digital project has not taught anybody anything yet!
    Please consider allocating this money to the skatepark. Youngsters have had a really difficult time in the last few years and spending on services for this group has been radically cut back .

    • Seriously trust you to say that now that you are selling high calorie waffles and sugar laden ice cream opposite to the proposed skat park site! Give it a rest! what happened to your motto of health eating and here you are set up opposite a kids playground and soon to be skatepark.

      • What you say has an element of truth. Ice cream is associated with fun and pleasure. I never want to deny people the chance to enjoy themselves but if you looked a little bit further you might have noticed the chilli’s on the menu and the crumbles both made with as much local food as possible , low sugar, low fat and high fibre as well as the freezer full of local meals made with love inside . These meals are good value family meals. We are supporting these with videos and soon to start classes for families. We also have been giving away good food so new customers can get a flavour of what we do. The saag aloos and winter vegetable soups were popular as were the mixed grain low sugar pancake mixes. We are allowed to have fun as well as trying to eat better .

    • The skate park about which nothing has been heard other than it got some money via the council and a bit more from Tracy Emin, the website they claimed to have but didn’t, why on earth would you throw even more money at something that’s made so little progress to date?

  15. Should never have been allocated to Dreamland. Theatre Royal and Wintergardens first. After the insulting £300000 Winter garden was given just to pay for a survey of no use as the council already new they wouldn’t invest in it.

  16. Dreamland now needs to make a make a comprehensive public statement on what plans they have for the cinema not some vague comment as stated by kemsley in this article.TDC councillors having sold off the public silver have a responsibility at least to press now for a business plan for this local and national asset.

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