TDC’s Public Document Pack for tomorrow’s Planning Committee meeting (Weds 19th of October, at 7pm) contains the independent report commissioned from Dr Chris Miele of Montagu Evans.
However, the Council is presenting to Committee Members with a summary of the report (Agenda Item 5) which only outlines two out of the four reasons why English Heritage upgraded the Scenic Railway in June from Grade II to Grade II*. And unsurprisingly, the two reasons outlined: ‘rarity’ and ‘design’, are the two probably not affected by the proposed development. The two reasons that would be effected by the development: ‘historic interest’ and ‘group value’ are left out of the summary. The selective exclusion of these two reasons from the report to Members is misleading.
English Heritage Reasons for the Upgrade of the Scenic Railway in full:
1. Rarity: It is the oldest surviving rollercoaster in Britain and is of international significance as the second oldest in Europe and amongst the five oldest in the world of this prominent C20 entertainment structure.
2. Design: Scenic railways are amongst the earlier types of rollercoaster design and it is an internationally important surviving example of this first generation of moving amusement technology.
3. Historic Interest: As an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts and Dreamland, its principal amusement park.
4. Group value: It groups with Dreamlands other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.
Sadly and disappointingly, Thanet District Council’s Conservation Department response to the Miele report also only covers these same two reasons for the upgrade.
If you probe further into the reasons for upgrading, it becomes clear that the proposals would harm them:
“Historic Interest: as an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts, and Dreamland, its principal amusement park”
Will riding the Scenic still be “evocative” with a blank shed wall towering?
“Group value: it groups with Dreamland’s other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.”
The Discussion part of the document says that it “groups strongly”. By definition, group value is about relationships, and the relationship between the structures is definitely impacted upon by the proposals.
We believe that Planning Committee Members are being mislead by the content of Agenda Item 5 and they should reject it outright.
It is also worth noting that English Heritage are quoted in the Council Agenda item as confirming: “that the upgrading of the Scenic Railway from Grade II to Grade II* will have no significant effect on the process [our emphasis] of assessment of the impact of the development on the setting of the heritage asset.” English Heritage refer to ‘process’, yet the Council translate this to having no effect on the outcome. Process is not the same as outcome. We are awaiting confirmation from English Heritage on whether they were aware that section drawings submitted for consultation between the Arlington site and Dreamland have a 4m error.
Dreamland Trust’s response to the Miele report
We will be gathering on the steps of the Council Offices tomorrow from 6pm -7pm as a silent protest.