Monday, May 08, 2006

Anyone Lost an Elephant

Back from a meeting on the subject of “Television without Frontiers” at Westminster this evening, attended by MPs, BBC, ITV, AOL, IBM, OFCOM, you name it. The whole subject is a European “can of worms” as an effort is made to regulate what is television and what is not in a digital age, where, in theory, I could start broadcasting from a simple weblog.

The Labour MPs had all reportedly disappeared into a mass huddle in a committee room somewhere, no prizes for guessing what they might be discussing and it wasn’t the huge mechanical elephant I saw parked forlornly on the South bank of the Thames amid some fairground tents.

Looking at the number of suggested questions for this week’s “Ask Sandy”, I think I should do two things. Firstly direct his attention to the comment thread for the context of people’s concerns and secondly ask him to answer the following two questions:

  • What is the present thinking for the regeneration of a Margate High Street which is crumbling into decay at an alarming rate and is in stark contrast with the efforts being made to develop a café society atmosphere in the Old Town area?
  • As we enter the summer season with little more than a Big Wheel with dubious planning authority, sitting in ‘Godden’s Gap’ what are the short term plans for Dreamland as a tourist attraction this summer? Is there a point of ‘No return’ for the site as a viable tourist attraction?
Meanwhile, back at Westminster, I spot a dishevelled looking Boris Johnson who looked as if he was searching for a lost bicycle or was simply lost in absent-minded thought. Rather Boris though than the alternative in the Republic of Tower Hamlets where a re-run of the local election may be forced by court action as a consequence of the ‘massive electoral fraud’ reported by the Evening Standard this evening.


Anonymous said...

It is sad to see that even in the Old Town, a number of businesses have folded - bars and restuarants especially. It is difficult for local authorities to use public money to intervene, but it is important that some bold moves are made, and soon. I think planning delays and indecision pose grave risks to the town's future. It is important to get it right, but it is important not to take too long doing so. I know that many were concerned about the originally planned Turner Centre, but it would have been a bold, eye-catching building which, love it or hate it, would have been a talking point and would have prompted further development activity. A less notable building - as now seems to be on the cards - will still cost, but may have a significantly lesser impact.

Anonymous said...

The point of no-return for Dreamland was the foolish decision by the Tory majority to accept Option C for the local plan against the independent inspectors advice. The poor quality of planning decisions by this council has been publicly noted only recently with a financial penalty. The site owners want to develop it their way, whilst calling themselves Margate Regenerators or some other PR twaddle and a thriving all weather all year round attraction is not part of their plan.
Quite frankly, if TDC by accepting Option C ,put the value of the site up dramatically and beyond compulsory purchase price, would TDC now encourage Waterbridge to get on with whatever they REALLY want instead of the long drawn out farce we see paraded in front of our eyes by Waterbridge; the turning of a solitary attraction, a big wheel with no planning permission on a site that is not actually Dreamland and according to KCC Highways poses a risk to users of Marine Terrace.
So supporters of Waterbridge on TDC, I hope you are happy with what you have achieved so far, because this Dreamland issue is in fact a far more serious one than a new TC and you have blown the opportunity to produce a genuine crowd puller to Margate. The new TC is really going to get hordes of people into Margate? This is utter self delusion.

James Maskell said...

Option C was the only sensible option, really. The option that the SDC for example wanted was the "all or nothing" option, where if it couldnt be a theme park then it should be empty and they heckled to show their support for that option. Its simple as that. How would an empty Dreamland have helped Margate? By saying that it must be a theme park, it was cutting off other uses for the site, other uses which might have had great benefits for Margate. Thankfully the Council realised that and voted accordingly. The option chosen ensured that the site would be used appropriately even if it couldnt be a theme park.

How much does it cost to build a theme park?

Anonymous said...

The Dreamland site is not large enough for a theme park, anyone who has been to Orlando area in the last few years ( a million Brits go every year) would expect a minimum 300 acres at least or they would call it a mere fairground - which it was of course.
However I do like the siting of the Big Wheel, it has some prominence and I really can't see what significant danger it poses to anyone.
I am told that the Wheel is booked elsewehere soon and will be dismantled and removed at least temporarily, no doubt if it returns then they will site it differently, thats a shame as it brought a bit of life to the seafront in Margate.
TDC should give it a temporary permission without any fuss, it can only do us good.
As far as Margate High St is concerned I went there yesterday and was amazed at the very large number of empty shops - and could actually park my car, a rare occurrence over the last few years.
It must be finished as a shopping street, what can be usefully done with those premises?

Anonymous said...

What about Save Dreamland Campaigns claims that a number of successful Amusement venue entrepeneurs would gladly develop a serious vistor attraction? As for the Big Wheel, the one attraction arranged by Waterbridge is going perpatetic? What a farce. Any business that can should relocate out of Margate as soon as it is able, things are definitely not going to get better for a long time if ever.

Anonymous said...

Save Dreamland???
Its history, it isn't what people want these days, too small, not the big thrills.
I used to work on the Scenic Railway and although its a classic it isn't cutting edge and its not fast or aggressive. You can take your Grandma on there if you want.
Unfortunately its only a matter of time before it either becomes unsafe through lack of maintenance (expensive) or has yet another unfortunate fire.
It has to go, sad but true.
There's little profit in history, lets get on with redeveloping the site in a way which will actually benefit the Margate of the future.

tony flaig said...

I think some realism is called for as far as the retail industry in Thanet is concerned, over the years retail areas have contracted naturally with the growth of out-of-town shopping.
What you could ask Sandy, is whether it is such a good idea to have purchased the Marks and Spencer's building. I understood in your last interview with him that having purchased this building no clear use for this asset has yet emerged, therefore would in hindsight, it not have been better to have kept this building on the open market and seen the whether a commercial developer could have revived this site at no cost to the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

I counted 26 closed/boarded up businesses along Marine Terrace and lower High St this afternoon and along Northdown Road there were 28 businesses closed. Thank you TDC for allowing Westwood and thus turning the areas we live in into derelict eyesores.