London Resort Company Holdings, the company behind the proposed London Paramount Entertainment Resort, have today officially confirmed that the submission of their planning application will be delayed by 12 months, meaning it will be summer 2017 before details are sent to the Secretary of State for consideration.
In a release on the project’s official website, the company outlined how they have undertaken a significant amount of work completing further environmental studies and transport studies, alongside making some changes and refinements to the business and masterplans based on feedback received during previous consultations. It has also been re-confirmed that a further round of public consultation will take place to enable the public to have their say on the updated information, although no dates or details have been released.
Despite this delay in the submission of the plans for the development, there has been no confirmation regarding how this will impact the proposed 2021 opening date. It is currently unclear whether developers still intend to meet this target date, or if the delay in the submission of the plans will also mean another setback in the opening of the entertainment resort.
Speaking about the latest delays, David Testa, on behalf of London Paramount, said:
We’re delighted we are entering a critical stage in the planning process for the Entertainment Resort. While we had hoped to have submitted an application by now, it is much more important to ensure the evidence base is robust and comprehensive to maximise the prospects of success, which means the preparation time is longer. The funds are in place to take this project through the planning process.
We received a wealth of feedback at our consultations last year which, along with new information from further studies we have conducted in the area, has allowed us to refine our masterplan. We were always conscious that there was a need to share more detailed information in relation to transport and ecology and we’ve been working hard on those reports.
We have decided that, given some of the changes we are making to the masterplan, we should hold a further round of public consultation on the updated information. This decision comes as part of our continued dialogue with the Planning Inspectorate and local authorities in Dartford, Gravesham and Kent, and the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation. Following the further consultation events, we intend to submit our application to the Planning Inspectorate in 2017.
The specific challenge in relation to a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) is that the process for submitting a planning application, known as a Development Consent Order, is heavily front-loaded. Nearly all of the detail must be assembled prior to submission rather than amassed or worked on as the scheme is considered.
The news of the delay to the London Paramount project comes as concerns have been raised regarding the financial status of the developers’ parent company, the Kuwaiti based KEHC (UK) Limited. The company, which also owns Ebbsfleet United Football Club, has filed its annual accounts 5 months late, which a spokesperson said was due to delays in consolidating information from subsidiary companies. The submitted information shows that the company reported assets worth £4.29 million, however had debts of £4.3 million, therefore making a loss of £8, 427. If the decision is taken to give KEHC (UK) a notice to be struck off (where a company is forced to shut down), the company will have three months to show it has valid reasons to remain active, otherwise it will be dissolved and any assets transferred to the crown – something which could mean the end to the plans for London Paramount.
Despite these concerns, a spokesperson insisted that the London Paramount project does still have full funding in place to take it through the planning process and is set to proceed with the further consultations. However, local businesses who are located on the Swanscombe Peninsular where it is proposed to build the Resort are still saying that no meaningful negotiations have taken place with the company having delayed meetings with Peninsular Management Group, the body which has been set up to represent 140 firms who will be directly affected by the construction of the new Resort.
What are your thoughts on these latest developments surrounding the London Paramount project? Do you think the project will still go ahead, or is the project starting to face too many delays? Have your say over on the Attraction Source Forum. We’ll be closely monitoring all the latest news from the London Paramount project and bring you all the updates as we have them.