Merlin Entertainments yesterday confirmed that all avenues to block the implementation of Legoland Windsor Resort’s Long Term Plan, submitted back in 2017, have now been exhausted.
A long period of deliberation followed the Long Term Plan’s submission in June 2017, with planning permission eventually issued by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) in April 2019. In May 2019, the Berkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) lodged an application for a Judicial Review claim with the High Court, seeking to quash RBWM’s decision. RBWM (as the defendant) and Merlin / Legoland (as the interested parties) both resolved to defend the decision. In December 2019, CPRE’s claim for Judicial Review was dismissed. Subsequently, in January 2020, CPRE lodged an application to appeal the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal, but in April 2021 this was also dismissed. CPRE therefore lodged an application for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal decision to the Supreme Court in May 2021, and the recent refusal of this application means that there is now no further basis for appeal by CPRE (or any other third party).
In response to the planning delays experienced, a Merlin Spokesperson said:
“We welcome the decision issued this week. This is not before time. It has been hugely frustrating that our approved plans to boost Windsor’s economy have been held up by a third party who did not even object to the development proposals in the first place. In 2018, democratically elected councillors gave their overwhelming support to our vision to transform LEGOLAND Windsor over the ensuing decade. The Secretary of State also gave these plans the green light in 2019. It therefore can’t be right that decisions made by local and national politicians to enable economic growth can be disrupted and delayed by activists, to this extent, through repeated legal challenges with little to no risk of costs sanctions. If the Government is serious about making the UK a more attractive place to invest, it needs to make sure that our planning system is fit-for-purpose. Following this week’s outcome we will be writing to the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, urging him – and his ministerial colleagues – to introduce fundamental changes to prevent a repeat of what we have faced over the past 30 months. Such changes have to happen if the UK is to compete globally.”
The Resort’s Long Term Plan encompasses a number of different developments. They originally detailed a ‘2019 attraction’ near to the LEGO City area of the theme park, intended to be THE LEGO MOVIE World. However, as a result of the planning delays, a separate planning application had to be submitted for a different location, with the theme subsequently revised to become LEGO MYTHICA, which opened earlier this year. This leaves open the possibility that the area detailed in the Long Term Plan could be the location of a separate future development. Also outlined were the Haunted House plans, but once again a planning application was subsequently submitted separately to enable this attraction to open in 2019.
Another key development included was the addition of a 450 room Holiday Village, similar to Alton Towers Resort’s Enchanted Village, to be built over three phases – phase 1 construction commencing 2018, phase 2 construction commencing 2021 and phase 3 construction commencing 2023. It seems that this will be the principal development that the Resort are now keen to bring forward. Additional car parking space was to be built alongside this, as well as the reconfiguration of the existing car parks.
The final notable development was the refresh of the theme park’s entrance area, The Beginning. These works included a new entrance portal, a reworking of the admissions facilities starting in 2017, and an extension of The Big Shop in 2018. There were also plans to change the use of St Leonards Farm to enable the buildings to be re-used as back of house facilities.
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