Paramount London

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Plans for the UK park have been unveiled

Paramount London is a proposed theme park and entertainment precinct in Kent, United Kingdom. The project was announced on 8 October 2012; construction could begin in autumn 2016 with the opening in summer 2019.[1]

If given the green light, the development will transform an 872-acre brownfield site on the Swanscombe peninsula and be twice the size of the Olympic Park in East London. It will feature Europe’s largest indoor water park, theatres, live music venues, attractions, cinemas, restaurants, event space and hotels. Allied to the project will be a training academy for the entertainment and hospitality sectors, a new country park, a large science and education visitor complex and "the biggest performing arts centre in Europe".[2] The name of the park has been announced as the London Paramount Entertainment Resort.[3]

The developer has said that the theme of the park will have an emphasis on Britain and Kent, however the attractions are likely to be based on films and entertainment properties owned by the licensee of the park's name, Paramount Pictures. Once fully open, the park and related enterprises could sustain 27,000 jobs.

While the project has garnered considerable support in Kent, a commentary in the London Evening Standard in October 2012 called into question the commitment of some of the development partners, namely landowner Lafarge Tarmac, builder Brookfield Construction and property company Development Securities.[4] However on 10 December 2012 the project received a boost after securing the services of Chris Townsend,[5] as its commercial director. Townsend performed the same role for Locog on behalf of the London 2012 Olympic Games and is charged with attracting investors for debt and equity funding.

The plans for the park received considerable backing from the British government when Paramount London became the first commercial venture to be awarded Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project status allowing the developers to bypass local planning requirements.[6] The Secretary of State may make a decision on the park's planning application in autumn 2016.

Development[edit]

The site straddles the border of the Dartford and Gravesham borough council administrative areas and both authorities have pledged their support.[7] In July 2014 the first community consultation was held with a short series of exhibitions in the area around the peninsula.[8]

The timetable for delivery, including the planning application process and construction timetable, is geared towards completion and opening in 2019.[9] A planning application to Dartford Borough Council is expected to be made in 2015.[10] The project leader is Tony Sefton of London Resort Company Holdings.

In April 2013 newspaper reports[11] claimed development may be delayed by the discovery of a rare species of spider. Mr. Sefton pledged to remove the colony of distinguished jumping spiders (Sitticus distinguendus) to another suitable site.

The following month, the Kent Messenger reported[12] that plans for the theme park could be endangered if a new lower Thames road crossing is sited over the Swanscombe Peninsula and quoted Mr. Sefton as saying "It could really scupper plans. We are in the final throes of negotiating a very large investment and this makes it very difficult." However, the proposal was rejected in December of that year.[13]

The park may spur the development of a new Garden City development at nearby Ebbsfleet.[14][15]

Infrastructure and Transport[edit]

The closest station to the proposed site is Swanscombe served by Southeastern services from London Charing Cross via Sidcup and Dartford to Gravesend. A short distance away, Ebbsfleet International is a High Speed 1 station. Trains run from London St Pancras (17 minutes), Paris Gare du Nord (North), Brussels-South and in the future, Amsterdam Centraal; London Resort Company holdings predict the park will add two to three million passengers a year to the HS1 line. A new monorail may take passengers from Ebbsfleet to the park. A further 250,000 people may travel directly to the park from central London by 'water taxis' along the River Thames; project leader Tony Sefton has said he aims for the park to have the "lowest modal mix" of car park spaces of any similar resort in the world.[16]

It is presently unclear what changes to local infrastructure will be necessary to accommodate millions of additional visitors annually to North West Kent, though it is possible the route of a planned new Thames road crossing may be in part decided as a result of this development.

Similarly, it is conceivable that Crossrail's route may be altered to run as far east as Hoo Junction, just beyond Gravesend, Kent; currently there are no firm plans to run trains beyond Abbey Wood in south east London. It is not known if the plans for Paramount Kent will create a viable case for Crossrail services to be extended to serve the park. The Hoo Peninsula is also one of the proposed Thames Estuary airport sites.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Price, Chris. Kent Online. Kent Messenger http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/paramount-team-construction-19946/ |url= missing title (help). 
  2. ^ "£2bn plan: Mission is possible". Kent Messenger Group. 
  3. ^ Price, Chris. "Paramount Park developers reveal goal to begin construction in 2016". Kent Online. Kent Messenger. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Bill, Peter. "A roller coaster ride for ‘Disney by the Thames’". Evening Standard. 
  5. ^ Beard, Matthew. "2012 Chief to head 'British Disneyland' bid". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 10/12/12. 
  6. ^ Chiorando, Maria. "London Paramount park receives planning boost". Kent News. Archant. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Reaction to £2bn Paramount theme park for Kent". Kent Messenger Group. 
  8. ^ Price, Chris. Kent Online. Kent Messenger http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/paramount-park-to-unveil-plans-19496/ |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Webb, Sam (8 October 2012). "Daily Mail". Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  10. ^ . Dartford Messenger. 10 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "The Independent". London. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "KM Online". Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Option B thrown out in Lower Thames Crossing debate". Echo News. Newsquest (Essex) Ltd. Retrieved 12 Dec 2012. 
  14. ^ "15,000-home garden city to be built at Ebbsfleet". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Price, Chris. "Paramount Park developers reveal goal to begin construction". Kent Online. Kent Messenger. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Price, Chris. Kent Online. Kent Messenger http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/paramount-team-construction-19946/ |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 10 July 2014.