The Dreamland Trust will be objecting to the proposed plans to build a 7,565 square metre superstore on top of the existing multi-storey Arlington car park on the grounds of the impact the development will have on the setting of Dreamland site’s heritage assets; the Grade II* Cinema building, Grade II listed menagerie cages and the Grade II* listed Scenic Railway.
The application is being reconsidered by Thanet District Council following the decision by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to upgrade the listing of the Scenic Railway from Grade II to Grade II*.
The Dreamland Trust will state that the proposed superstore is too big for the site. The metal-clad back wall of the superstore will dwarf Dreamland’s heritage assets, providing an overbearing and inappropriate backdrop to the group of listed structures and the amusement park that is being built around them.
In addition the 18TH century Gothick wall supporting the menagerie cages and cottage abutting the Arlington car park are fragile structures and building works may jeopardise their integrity.
The Princes Regeneration Trust’s assessment describes the wall as being in a very precarious condition; the cages in an unstable state and currently substantially held up by temporary propping. The lintels appear to have failed completely in the smaller cages with the triple arch head to the largest cage being dependent on propping.
Urgent works notices have been issued to prevent further deterioration to the listed structures until restoration work can begin. The Dreamland Trust submitted its £3m Stage 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in July to restore the listed structures and to create a new visitor attraction for Margate – the world’s first amusement park of historic rides set in landscaped gardens with picnic areas, cafes, restaurants, retail, special events and festivals.
The Dreamland Trust points out that in addition to the proposed superstore development putting Sanger’s wall, menagerie cages and cottage at physical risk it will have a detrimental effect on the future amusement park’s visitor experience and the park’s commercial operation.
The Trust will also review and provide comments on the report on the impact of the superstore proposals on Dreamland’s listed buildings, produced by Chris Miele of Montagu Evans and funded by the developer.
Dreamland Trust Chairman Nick Laister states: “We have reviewed the expert report and this seems to largely rely on the fact that the setting of the Scenic Railway is already degraded. It fails to recognise that the park is to be rebuilt and that English Heritage has been closely involved in this project so was fully aware of it when advising that the listing of the Scenic Railway should be upgraded. We believe that this work needs to be reviewed in the knowledge that the setting of the Scenic Railway is not lost and is likely to be seriously undermined by this development.”