Dreamland Margate – Assael unveils owner plans
Assael Architecture has unveiled its vision for the Dreamland Margate site at a public enquiry into whether Thanet District Council will be allowed to compulsorily purchase the former fun park. Assael is the fifth architectural practice to be appointed and the only one to protect and reuse the Grade II* Cinema and Scenic Railway as part of a low density housing scheme designed to attract inward investment.
Margate Dreamland is one of Britain's most famous seaside amusement parks. The park, which opened in 1920, is home to the Grade II listed Scenic Railway roller coaster, the oldest operating roller coaster in the country and Britain's first listed amusement park ride. The park is also home to a Grade II* listed cinema of international importance and Grade II listed menagerie cages, the oldest zoo cages in the UK. Dreamland is also central to the area's local economy as the Isle of Thanet's most-visited tourist attraction.
Assael’s scheme for Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC) will provide a vibrant cultural and amusement hub surrounded by a residential scheme, comprising mostly high quality terraced houses. Alongside 474 homes, it will protect and re-use the heritage assets.
A new cultural and artistic hub will be created in the very large Grade II* listed Dreamland cinema, and renamed ‘Dreamland Studios’. The interventions internally will be reversible and heritage will be preserved, including the organ, circular staircase and first floor rooms at the front. The rest of the complex will be adapted to accommodate: an Art gallery, recording studios, a radio shack, artists’ studios, a performance space, a café, a conference and events space as well as accommodation for artists.
50% of the site area will consist of the ‘Dreamland Park’, offering a number of features such as a secure Scenic and Heritage rides area, carefully designed with level changes to provide security without giving the impression of exclusion. There is also a large landscaped public park providing a much improved setting for two of the listed assets: the rustic wall - menagerie enclosures - animal cages and the Scenic Railway.
The residential development has been designed as predominantly a housing scheme in terms of land allocation. Most of the site (70% by land allocation) is arranged in clusters of low scale houses and maisonettes of no more than four storeys. The remainder of this site 30% proposes apartment buildings between three and seven storeys to address the issues relating to visual screening and environmental amelioration. The mix of the units has been informed by the desire to attract ‘aspirational’ purchasers that will act as a catalyst in regenerating Margate.
In addition to this, the landscape finishes are designed to accommodate fairs, visiting heritage rides and other temporary attractions. This ability to support a number of temporary events is one of the main propositions of the strategy. Hard finishes, temporary power and water points will ensure that this space can attract a variety of uses.
All external spaces are connected by a large south-facing area referred to as ‘The Square’ which forms an open-air hub of the entire complex.