The UK’s first new major new theme park for over 20 years could be built near London if developers succeed in their plans to create a Paramount-branded resort by the banks of the Thames Estuary.
Development vehicle London Resort Company Holdings [LRCH] wants to build a £2 billion entertainment destination on the Swanscombe Peninsula, North Kent, and has signed an agreement with Paramount Licensing for a resort-style theme park at the heart of the site. LRCH is also in negotiations with a range of major British brands regarding further licensing agreements.
The development, close to the Ebbsfleet International Eurostar rail terminal and about 20 miles (32km) from central London, would transform the 872 acre brown field site into one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe, creating up to 27,000 jobs.
“Our vision is to create a world class entertainment destination, the first of its kind in the UK,” says LRCH project leader Tony Sefton. “We are at the start of a long journey, but have been encouraged by the support and buy-in we have had to date.”
Outlined for the Paramount project at the core of the proposed development are theme park attractions, Europe’s largest indoor waterpark, theatres, live music venues, cinemas, restaurants, event space and hotels.
LRCH has assembled a development team which includes Development Securities plc, a leading development and investment company, principal land owner Lafarge, and construction company Brookfield Multiplex. The team is supported by several leading consultants and operators who would help deliver the scheme.
An independent feasibility study has suggested that the entertainment destination will draw many additional tourists into the UK each year, making a significant contribution to the economy. The nearby Eurostar rail link offers a 17-minute journey into London, or a two-hour trip to Paris. Dartford and Gravesham Borough Councils have both ledged support for the project, which still requires financing. The £2bn investment figure quoted does include contributions from Paramount Licensing.
“Post Olympics, this is Britain’s next major regeneration opportunity,” believes Sefton, who also serves as managing director of the leisure consultancy Vision XS. ”Over the next 12 to 18 months we will be progressing the planning application, while embarking on a wide-reaching programme of community consultation and securing further commercial agreements with third parties. Our timetable for delivery, including the planning application process and construction timetable, is geared towards completion and opening in 2018.”