A consortium of British developers has signed a licensing deal with Paramount Licensing, the licensing division of Hollywood based Paramount Pictures, for a new £2 billion pound theme park on the banks of the river Thames a few miles east of London.
Assuming plans come to fruition, a rundown former industrial area of north Kent, UK could, in six years time, be host to a new theme park that looks set to rival Disneyland Paris.
The group of developers have formed a holding company, London Resort Co. Holdings, which has signed a deal which would mean Paramount film assets such as "Mission: Impossible," and "Star Trek" making their UK theme park debut just east of the Dartford crossing on former industrial land on the Swanscombe peninsula.
The proposed new theme park would transform an 872 acre (343 hectare) brown field site into possibly the largest re-generation project in Europe creating in the process an estimated 27,000 jobs in the Dartford and Gravesend areas of North Kent, reports The Independent.
Under the agreement, whilst Paramount productions would be licensed for use at the new theme park, Paramount itself would not be involved in investment for the project. In a statement, London Resort Co. Holdings (LRCH) said it was looking to sign licensing deals with "major British brands" as well. The group hopes to open its park in 2018, though there are still many steps it must complete to reach that goal.
LRCH has been putting together a project development team which includes Development Securities, a leading development and investment company, the principal land owner, French cement and industrials conglomerate, Lafarge, and construction company Brookfield Multiplex which has previously been involved in a number of large scale construction projects, reports Breaking Travel News.
In a press statement, LRCH compared the regeneration of the Swanscombe site to the effect the London 2012 Olympic park had on east London. Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Tony Sefton, project leader for LRCH, said: “Our vision is to create a world class entertainment destination, the first of its kind in the UK. We are at the start of a long journey, but have been encouraged by the support and buy-in we have had to date.”
Location and features
The proposed new Paramount theme park site is situated on a promontory of land jutting into the river Thames just north of Swanscombe. It is in close proximity to three major roads as well as Ebbsfleet International station (now the principal staging post for Channel Tunnel traffic between the terminal at Folkestone and London St.Pancras railway station. Visitors to the new park would have a brief 17-minute journey from London St. Pancras compared to the two hour journey time from London to Disneyland Paris on a Eurostar train.
The new resort would include roller coasters, thrill rides and Europe’s largest indoor water park, but LRCH say a "wide audience" is important as the park would need to be in action "almost 24 hours a day". Areas are planned for young mothers with children, with play areas open early in the morning, as well as shows and performances. Theatres would open in the evenings with clubs and bars available until the early hours of the morning.
LRCH is seeking further international investors for the project and intends asking the UK Government for help with funding some of the infrastructure costs.
Provisionally the opening date for the new theme park is 2018 but before then, the project could face a number of objections from environmentalists and conservationists. The proposed site lies near where the remains of 250,000-year-old “Swanscombe Man” were found whilst a wildlife haven for wading birds is nearby along the Thames marshes.
Mr Sefton gave an assurance that the haven would not be affected and stated that there would be full public consultations prior to any planning applications being submitted.