Dreamland Plans Get Go Ahead

A local council's plans to help rejuvenate a seaside town with a multimillion-pound heritage amusement park have survived a High Court challenge.

Thanet District Council wants to restore a famous rollercoaster - said to be the oldest in the country - and turn the disused Dreamland site at Margate in Kent into a top attraction once more with historical rides and side-shows.

The multiple owners of the £10 million site opposed the scheme and appealed against a Government decision to confirm a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to secure the land needed for the project.

Dreamland Leisure Ltd and eight other parties with an interest in the land argued that the heritage scheme was unaffordable and proposed building homes and a fun park instead.

They contended at London's High Court that the Environment Secretary's decision in May 2011 to approve acquisition of the land on the recommendation of a public inquiry inspector was legally flawed and reached on a false basis.

Rejecting the challenge today, Judge Sycamore ruled that the inspector's findings were consistent, accurate and fair.

Dreamland amusement park closed to the public in 2003.

One of its famous features, the Grade II-listed Scenic Railway enjoyed by generations of holidaymakers, is still there but was damaged in an arson attack in 2008.

The site is also home to a Grade II*-listed cinema and Grade II-listed menagerie cages of historical importance.

In recent years Margate has been seen as a rundown, ailing resort with the 2003 closure of the old Dreamland park central to that decline.

Now beginning a renaissance, the Rough Guide last year named Margate as one of the top 10 places in the world to visit, with editor Tim Chester praising the new Turner Contemporary gallery, as well as other indie art spaces, vintage shops and "cute cafes'' in the old town.

Local-born artist Tracey Emin has described moves to reopen Dreamland as a major seaside attraction as "the best news Margate could have, and about time''.