Dreamland investor Arrowgrass in talks to take on Arlington as part of new masterplan

Arrowgrass says the Arlington estate has 'potential'

Dreamland investors Arrowgrass Capital Partners are in talks to acquire a leasehold interest in Arlington House – with the possibility of buying the freehold from Thanet council.

The lease for the 18-floor, 1960s block is currently held by company Freshwater with day-to-day management in the hands of Trinity (Estates) Property Management Limited.

But Arrowgrass, which this year pumped £25 million into the refurbishment of Dreamland, is looking at “significant” investment in the site as part of a masterplan for Dreamland and Arlington.

The plan, which is expected to take six months to complete, was discussed with Arlington residents at a meeting on Monday.

Arrowgrass, which owns just shy of 99% shares of Dreamland’s operator company Sands Heritage Ltd, believes the Arlington site has ‘potential’ that is currently not being explored.

A spokesman from Dreamland said: “Master planning is underway and some of this necessarily incorporates parts of the Dreamland site. The process is being run by Arrowgrass as the investor in Dreamland and potential investor in Arlington.

“As a management team and as it pertains to Dreamland, we will of course have input in this process.

“Arrowgrass is committed to Dreamland being a safe, secure and pleasant place to visit for families and other guests. The Arlington site has a lot of potential that isn’t currently being fulfilled.

“ It may provide additional opportunities to how Dreamland operates and this is one of the reasons Arrowgrass has advanced as they look at Arlington.

“It is our understanding that Arrowgrass has an option to acquire a leasehold interest in the Arlington estate from Freshwater.

“It is our belief that if Arrowgrass decides to proceed with the purchase of the freehold, it may seek to acquire the freehold from Thanet District Council, but that is a matter for Arrowgrass to determine at the appropriate time.”

Arlington was designed by Russell Diplock Associates and built by Bernard Sunley, Originally it was made up of 52 shops, a pub, a supermarket, a coach station, a filling station, a multi-storey car park and the 142-flat block. It was completed in 1964.

Since that time the shops have been closed with demolition workers on-site last year and the iconic arch of the arcade entrance removed.

Photo John Cripps

At the time Freshwater said: “The land owner is seeking occupiers to enable a viable regeneration of the site but is not yet in a position to promote new plans for redevelopment.”

Photo John Cripps

Plans for a Tesco superstore at the site, which were vehemently opposed by residents, were ditched in 2014 due to trading conditions

The car park was fenced off until Dreamland/Arrowgrass brought it back into use earlier this year following an agreement with Freshwater.

Dreamland reopened in May this year following the investment from Arrowgrass.

Operator Sands Heritage went into administration in May 2016 – just under a year after the company reopened the amusement park.

The company suffered financial difficulty at the end of 2015 when it entered a voluntary debt plan after being hit with a net loss of £5 million and owing bills of £2,893,128.

In May 2016 Benjamin Wiles and Paul Williams, Managing Directors of Duff & Phelps, were appointed Joint Administrators of Sands Heritage Ltd, trading as Dreamland.

Last year it emerged that Sands Heritage Ltd owed an estimated £8.34 million to a list of creditors, including many small local businesses, and had a total deficit of some £14 million.

In September it was revealed that a pot of £600,000 to pay debts to those owed money by Dreamland operator Sands Heritage Ltd had been agreed. Repayment was agreed at around 25p to the £1.

This month a ‘Company Voluntary Arrangement’, which will allow the company to come out of  administration and continue trading was agreed. The company will exit administration at the end of this month.

Now further Arrowgrass investment, which is believed to involve the potential purchase of eight flats in Arlington, could mean the arcade area is revitalised as part of the new masterplan and may even be used as part of Dreamland’s operations.

The Arrowgrass team will be seeking the views of local stakeholders, including Arlington residents, imminently.

Dreamland interim CEO Steven Mitchell said: “Arrowgrass is extremely committed to the ongoing regeneration of the area surrounding Dreamland. Their investment in the park has led to Dreamland successfully exiting administration.

“We are looking forward to delivering a sustainable future for Dreamland and the surrounding area.”

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