The all new Paramount theme park, due to be located in Swanscombe, Kent, has moved one step closer with the opening of the first informal public consultations on the project.
Due to be named ‘London Paramount Entertainment Resort’, the all new complex will feature a theme park, water park, sporting facilities, entertainment street, staff training academy, and accommodation comprising of approximately 5000 hotel rooms. If approved, it is anticipated that construction could begin as soon as September 2016, paving the way for a potential opening date of summer 2019.
In May 2014 the project gained special status as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) as a project that could have a ‘significant economic impact on a wider area than a single local authority’. This means that London Resort Company Holdings, the group behind the project, can apply directly to the Secretary of State for planning permission as opposed to the usual route through the local council. It is anticipated that a full formal planning application will be submitted in summer next year after an extensive period of both informal and formal public consultations. Currently the proposed timetable is as follows:
May 2014: Project gains Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project status allowing the bypass of local planning requirements.
June 2014: First public consultations begin asking how interested parties would like to be informed about the plans.
Autumn/Winter 2014: First formal public consultation containing full details of the proposed project.
Spring/Summer 2015: Second formal public consultation.
Summer 2015: Planning permission to be submitted direct to central government.
Summer 2015 to Summer 2016: Detailed design work to be carried out and contracts negotiated.
Autumn 2016: Decision by the Secretary of State.
Autumn 2016 to Spring 2019: Construction phase.
Summer 2019: Grand opening of London Paramount Entertainment Resort.
The new resort also aims to create a hub for new businesses with up to 200 new companies occupying 50 acres of commercial letting space as well as a creative industry hub. Alongside this, there is also expected to be significant multi million pound annual investment in the core entertainment elements of the resort with on site and local suppliers being given preference.
With predicted visitor figures of 15 million people a year, the new £2 billion development will represent significant competition for the current UK theme park and tourist attractions, in particular Merlin’s southern theme park resorts: Thorpe Park Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort and Legoland Windsor Resort. Although exact details of attractions will not be released until much later on in the planning and development process, it is widely expected any attractions will be based on popular film properties owned by Paramount.
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