Friday, January 06, 2006

Dream On Dreamland

What is the future of Dreamland? There’s a council meeting to discuss this coming up and the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd, otherwise known as MTRCL are planning a public consultation exercise to discover what residents want to do with the plot.

It’s no secret what the developers would like to do, given the sheer size of the area involved and it’s the presence of the scenic railway, bravely defying the risk from Swan Vesta for years, which has helped keep it as it is at present.

The latest plan is to provide a “Leisure destination for Margate” to be used for a “Mix of traditional and innovative uses”, whatever that may mean in practise. We’ve even had the suggestion of it becoming a “World class tennis centre” but knowing a little about the subject, I rather think that’s the most ludicrous pipe dream of all.

What I believe we need is an all-year water park on a larger scale than that of Aqualud in Le Touquet, with amusements and family friendly restaurants, shops and entertainment around the outside. This would be a guaranteed money spinner for Margate and is really in the “no-brainer” category if it is to exist as a competitive modern resort. A public consultation exercise simply draws out and already tedious and long-term problem and avoids the need to make a decision, something that we are rather good at here in Thanet.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet the ruler of Dubai over dinner, with former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating. (ironically, I was standing in for Patricia Hewitt). We all know about the success of Dubai as a dazzling tourist destination but this is mostly down to Sheikh Mohammed’s ability to get things done and cut through the red tape. If a project looks good and has a strong commercial case that attracts benefits to Dubai, then he’ll kick the proverbial backside of anyone who stands in the way and that I suggest, is what we need, in a more democratic sense perhaps, here in Thanet, if we are going to move forward with a little more imagination and commercial pragmatism than presently exists on our own little island.


onelosthousemate said...

bound to be a tesco or asda. Council aren't clever enough to do any good with the site

Cllr David Green said...

I understand Mussolini got the trains to run on time.

Anonymous said...

LOL, yes a Asda or Tesco (do you think we could rise to the dizzying heights of a Tesco metro?) and how about some badly designed, planned and built housing while we are at it, hey the developers would make a killing and that's got to be ok! whatever it will be i hope it doesn't arrive with a great fanfare coupled with false promises then take ten years to complete and be sub standard when it is finished, right readers!

hog's view said...

look at the seafront at Folkestone and look at the sea front at Margate, now look at the common denominator.......J and err G !
as in Whoops my trousers are on fire.................

Anonymous said...

No, look at the Seafront at Hastings, look at the Seafront at Cannes/Folkestone. Look at the Seafront at Margate... all the others face South, Margate, faces North. It doesn't do to go against the tide.

A Water Park would indeed draw thousands if not millions to the area.

Yes, Thanet would benefit from a "gentle dictator", somebody with vision, panache, and a cheeky persuave-ishness. For instance, building houses with off street parking.(that should be law anyway).
Using some of that cauliflower garden, to improve traffic conditions in the area to widen/improve, or build NEW roads.

Rome wasn't built in a day, Thanet will take a little longer!

Yes, what's needed here, is somebody with the vision of Jules Verne, the backbone of Churchill, and the cheek of Hitler, but, Terry Wogan has a good job!

Martin Wise (Cllr.) said...

No-one will ever come to invest in a water theme park with associated other leisure facilities unless:
1. They can get back part of their investment back through a housing scheme.
2. There are other high quality and high profile projects/developments on hand to give breadth to any new ideas which come forward.

Thank goodness for the KCC Turner Centre and TDC Margate Master Plan schemes, and thank heavens for the many hard working and visionary officers and members who still have the will and determination to work these through.

Anonymous said...

anon again.

I disagree, especially on the Turner Centre. Too much money being used in the wrong direction.
Sorry, but a LOT of Thanet Residents feel the same. Only a daring few are insisting that it goes ahead. I don't think the KC Council should be able "bulldoze"
this through against so much opposition.
You can crawl up to your Kent County mobsters, and ignore your local residents... then see what happens!

This is totally my opinion.

However, there are a lot of other residents who share this view.
Can you honestly feel sure, in going so tidally against the current?

Martin Wise (Cllr.) said...

The idea for the Turner Contemporary was put forward by a Margate resident who still lives in a bungalow in East Cliftonville. He was the same as you and I in that he believed in our town, and saw that the link between Turner and his paintings of Margate skies could be a draw for international tourists, which could help regenerate Thanet.

He recognised that people in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo would be drawn to this gallery because of the Turner link, and cultivated officers at KCC and TDC to help deliver his vision. It has been a long road, and this man has long since passed on the delivery of the vision to others, but I believe he should be applauded for his tenacity and hard work to get the ball rolling.

He knew that the link to Turner was too good an opportunity to miss.

How wonderful it would be if all those who had an idea that might help us make our area a better place, would contribute their time and energies to making things happen. I believe, as do KCC and TDC, that the TC will be the catalyst for the further regeneration of the Old Town,
and will help revitalise Margate Central and West Cliftonville Wards, which is why it must be located at the harbour, not at the Sea Bathing site.

TDC will not contribute to the construction costs, nor will the Council be responsible for the running costs. A sizeable junk of land adjacent to the harbour has been handed over to KCC, who will develop the land to obtain
revenues which will pay for the upkeep.

What is it that Simon said in his first IOTG column about the aspirational chasm that still exists in Thanet? In my view, the guy from East Cliftonville was an exception, and as a local politician I am very happy to put my backside on the line to support him and see this through. There really is NOTHING ELSE ON OFFER that will make such a dramatic difference so quickly to our town, and it would be dereliction of my responsibility to join those seeking to knock back the offer of millions.

Anonymous said...

You might find, that quite a few Residents had no objection, or at least accepted the Turner Gallery, when it was originally to have cost a mere £8,000,000.

The objections have risen, to match the price, of an incredibly outstanding height of £30,000,000.

NOTHING you, or the Kent County Council say about it, will EVER convince me that this is an acceptable price to have to pay.

I just find it incredible that you all act aloof of the majority's wishes.

The original idea, is excellent.
The man in the flat at East Cliftonville having that vision really has vision.

I assume the organising bodies are too frightened to hold some kind of vote on this issue asking all the Thanet dwellers to cast their thoughts by marking a ballot card with an X with a simple yes or no to the Turner Gallery, or running a poll on the local radio?

Martin Wise (Cllr.) said...

The Eden Project in Cornwall, The Tate - St. Ives, and the Lowry Salford Quays are all examples of projects which have sought to regenerate areas of the country which have difficulties for one reason or another.

Thanet has experienced long term economic and social problems and ranks 85th out of 354 local authority districts on the ODPM published Indices of Deprivation 2004. For many years unemployment has been well above the Kent average and 7 wards are ranked in the worst 10% of the most deprived in the country. Many of these are in the Margate area. The decline of the tourist industry has contributed to these persistent problems.

I believe that the TC project will be the catalyst for many other improvements to Margate. We have to start somewhere, and whether you accept it or not, the cost is peanuts in the totality of the funds available for projects such as this in the UK, and insignificant compared to the cost in human terms of the poor quality of life of too many people in Thanet. This is our one chance to make a real change, and if we knock this back, we have very little chance of attracting investment from anywhere else.

Like I said before, I am very happy to put my backside on the line to support this project, and will say so in my next election literature. If the electorate don't like it they won't vote for me, and that's the way it should be.