In June 2017, LEGOLAND Windsor Resort submitted a major planning application seeking permission for eight projects, including four new rides, a holiday village (to be built in three phases), an extension to ‘The Beginning’ which included an extension to the ‘Big Shop’, and a reconfiguration of the car parking.
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. Implementation of the plans was then further delayed by third party appeals against their approval. 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 refusal of this application at the end of 2021 means that there is now no further basis for appeal by CPRE (or any other third party).
New Theme Park Area
The long term plan detailed a ‘2019 attraction’ near to the LEGO City area of the theme park, intended to be THE LEGO MOVIE World, which could have seen construction begin as early as the end of 2017. 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 in May 2021. This leaves open the possibility that the area detailed in the Long Term Plan could be the location of a separate future development. The proposed addition was due to comprise of three attraction zones. Zone 1 would be a new indoor attraction, referred to in some of the planning documents as a potential roller coaster, and will cover an area of 1,200 sqm, with the building having a height of 13.2m at its highest point. Zones 2 & 3 would both feature what are described as ‘fairground style rides’ which will each include their own queueline areas and may be enclosed or covered. The ride in zone 3, which would be located next to Fire Academy, will be the larger of the two fairground rides with a height of 12.5m compared to the attraction in zone 2, which would be located towards the bottom end of the development area, which will have a maximum height of 6m. The area was planned to be enclosed by an 8m high themed wall to help distinguish it from the other areas of the park.
Haunted House Attraction
Also included in the long term plan was a further new attraction proposed for the site which had permission for the Haunted House ride. These plans had themselves initially been refused permission by the local authority, but the Resort were eventually successful in appealing this decision. From the details included in the long term plan application it was unclear whether this attraction would be the planned Haunted House attraction, only confirming it would be an indoor attraction with the parameters for the new ride being in line with the granted permissions for the site. A revised individual application would subsequently be submitted to bring forward this development that opened in the 2019 season as Haunted House Monster Party.
The Beginning Refresh
The Resort also planned to give the main entrance area known as ‘The Beginning’ a major refresh to modernise and refurbish the area. As part of these plans a new, 10m high, LEGOLAND Windsor entrance portal was proposed in order to provide and ‘enhanced arrival experience’ and help guide guests towards the ticket sales and turnstiles area. This new portal would be positioned further forward than the current entrance and aligned to frame the entrance to the Resort from the main pedestrian walkway. The existing ticket sales and collection building would be extended to provide new ticket sales facilities, including the addition of two new covered queue line areas. Existing toilet facilities would also be extended. It was anticipated that construction for these changes would begin in late 2017, but they remain yet to be implemented. Also set to receive an extension was the Resort’s largest retail outlet, The Big Shop, which would have up to 365sqm added to its floor space. Full details on this extension were expected to be submitted in a subsequent planning application, with construction anticipated to commence in 2018, however no further application was submitted. The Resort did refurbish the retail outlet for the 2021 season, although this was without constructing the outlined extension at the front of the building.
The Resort also proposed to construct a Holiday Village located to the west of the theme park. Planned to be built in three phases, the Holiday Village would eventually consist of 450 room – 150 as part of phase 1, and 300 in phases 2 and 3. This is understood to have been the principal development which objectors sought to block through appealing the long term plan’s approval.
Phase 1 of the Village is planned contain a mix of 65 lodges, with each lodge being semi-detached making a total of 130 rooms, and 20 ‘Lego Barrels’ similar to those seen in Legoland Deutschland. Of the 130 lodge units, 115 of these will be offered as ‘standard lodges’ sleeping up to 5 people, 10 will be ‘premium lodges’ sleeping up to 7 people, whilst 5 will be ‘standard accessible’ lodges. Each lodge will be set across a single story with an adults’ bedroom, children’s bedroom, and a bathroom, as well as an external terrace – similar to the layout used in the Alton Towers Enchanted Village. The 20 ‘barrels’ will be set on their own timber deck and sleep up to 4 guests, but will not include their own bathroom meaning guests will have to use a purpose built ‘amenities block’ containing the bathroom and showering facilities. The lodges will be arranged in clusters of four to nine lodges surrounding a central point which will include play equipment. Each building will be constructed of wood and will be stained in what is described as ‘the muted tones of the LEGO palette’ to keep the lodges in-keeping with the surrounding area. The 20 barrels will be clad in stained timber with timber shingled style roofs.
Guests will be able to approach the Holiday Village either from ‘The Beginning’ area of the Theme Park, or from the Village car park. Access to the Holiday Village will be via the LEGO Club House, a central facilities building situated to the north of the Village. This building will include the reception for the Village, restaurant, shop, and entertainment facilities. The Holiday Village will also have its own dedicated parking located on what is currently car park C, as well as seven disabled car parking spaces within the village itself which will be found adjacent to the LEGO Club House and accessible lodges.
If given the go ahead, construction on phase 1 was planned to commence in 2018. Phases 2 and 3 of the Holiday Village would then see up to a further 300 rooms added to the accommodation alongside two further central ‘facilities hubs’. A dedicated car park with space for up to 450 cars will also be created. It was anticipated that phase two would commence construction in 2021, whilst phase three would begin to be built in 2023.
A number of other projects relating to various infrastructure and behind the scenes facilities were also outlined in the planning application.
In order to help improve the flow of traffic into the Resort, it was proposed that the car parks undergo a reconfiguration to enable visitors to park more easily and safely. This included a change to the configuration of spaces in car parks A and B to enable drivers to drive easily into spaces; to surface car park E so that it can be used year round; allocate a great proportion of spaces in car park C as disabled spaces; and utilise car park NE as a grassed overflow car park.
The Resort also wanted to change the use of St Leonards Farm to enable the buildings to be re-used as back of house facilities, including storage, maintenance areas and workshops. This also included creating a new access route between the farm and the existing internal access road.