The fourth and final stage of public consultations for London Paramount Entertainment Resort began this week revealing the most detailed plans so far for the proposed new development on the Swanscombe Peninsular in Kent.
As part of the latest set of plans, a new masterplan and series of concept images have been released, illustrating the developers’ vision for key areas of the entertainment resort. The concept images illustrate four of the themed areas of the proposed theme park: Adventure Isle; Myths and Legends Castle; Paramount Port Bay; and Port Plaza. These latest images give the impression of the high standard of theming the resort is aspiring to and hints at some of the rides and attractions which could possibly be included within the theme park – including a rapids in Adventure Isle and potentially a wooden rollercoaster behind the Myths and Legends Castle. However, despite what the concept images show, there are not yet any detailed plans for the rides which will be included, with the current planning documents only stating that ‘rides and attractions are being designed by leading designers and operators’.
Emphasis has been placed in this latest round of consultations on the entertainment programme available across the whole of the new resort, with a 1, 500 seat theatre proposed which will be home to regular West End Quality shows, art-house cinema and nightclubs, parades, special events, and events and conference facilities alongside a business hub and up to 5000 hotel rooms. Also situated with the resort will be and indoor waterpark covering a space of approximately 25,000 m2. Of particular interest is the fact that the area designated for the waterpark states that it does not include any attached hotel – could this suggest a similar set up to Splash Landings at Alton Towers Resort? The waterpark is also described as a ‘distinctive visitor experience’ which will be a ‘unique in scale for the UK’.
As with previous rounds of consultations, transport features heavily within the documents detailing the resort’s plans. One of the key areas of focus is the options for phased improvements to the A2(T) to enable a new access road to the resort to be constructed. Based on feedback from previous consultations, developers have put forward two possible options for a 2.8km dual carriageway access route. Both options would run adjacent to the existing HS1 rail line and feature up to 6 bridges and 8 tunnels. Option 1 would see the upgrading of roundabouts to create a gyratory system with a free flow route to the theme park and central drop off point. Option 2 would improve the existing A2 slip road whilst creating a ‘hamburger’ style roundabout (where there is a route down the centre of the roundabout as well as around the outside) to help separate traffic heading towards the resort. In order to minimise disruption, the park opening hours will be set to avoid current peak traffic times, and dedicated breakdown patrols will be available to help remove any vehicles experiencing difficulties and causing congestion.
Sustainable transport options are being developed to help mitigate the impact of the journeys made to the resort by car with a number of options currently being considered. Improvements to the local bus network will be made to help provide a fastrack, rapid transit network to the resort, and a high frequency, ‘land train’ shuttle will be available to transport guests from Ebbsfleet Station. Guests will also be able to travel to the resort along the River Thames, with a dedicated pontoon being proposed for the boarding and alighting of staff and visitors onto the River Bus services. For those who do choose to travel to the resort by car, 14,000 parking spaces will be made available, some of which will be within multi-storey parking of up to seven floors. There will also be 100 coach spaces and 355 motorcycle spaces available.
Jobs and Economic Benefits
It is expected that the construction of the resort will bring a range of both short and long term benefits to the local area, with the resort’s developers particularly keen to target local people for jobs, both within the resort itself and indirectly via the wider supply chain. During the construction phase, around 6,300 jobs will be created. Once operational, the resort will create up to 27,000 jobs – both skilled and semi-skilled, with 6, 700 of these being in the Entertainment Resort, and the remainder as a result of the required supply chain, 1800 in the resort hotels, and 1300 in the business hub. One of the perceived problems the resort seeks to address is that ‘60% of the money Britons spend on holiday is spent abroad’. Developers also estimate that 24% of the visitors from overseas will be people who would not otherwise have come to the UK, therefore providing the potential for these visitors to not only visit the resort, but also elsewhere in the local area, boosting the local economy.
What Happens Next?
Once these latest rounds of consultations are complete, London Resort Company Holdings will submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Secretary of State to obtain permission to begin construction. If granted, the DCO will give the developers a number of powers, including the ability to compulsorily purchase land required to enable the development to take place. Interestingly, it will also enable developers to acquire certain areas of airspace, suggesting that they want to protect themselves from certain areas being flown over. The DCO will also grant developers powers to make the required changes to the local roads, and create bylaws on a local level to help speed the construction of the project. As with any application, the DCO would also impose a number of conditions on the development. These include the times during which construction can take place, clauses to ensure the protection of the local environment, and requirements to submit specific details for permanent fencing and lighting. Once in operation a detailed scheme will have to be submitted and reviewed annually to monitor the noise levels from the resort. If the DCO is granted, developers will have 5 years within which to commence construction. It is expected that once the planning application has been submitted at the end of this summer work will begin on the detailed design phase which will comprise of more specific plans being drawn up for each area of the proposed resort – plans which it is anticipated will give people the first real idea of exactly what each area will look like.
What are your opinions on these latest plans from London Paramount? Is there anything you would like to see in the resort? Have your say on the plans so far over on the Attraction Source Forum. As London Paramount continues to progress we’ll be covering developments in full, so make sure you keep checking for all the latest news.