Plans for the park
|Location||Swanscombe, Kent, England|
|Owner||London Resort Company Holdings (Licenced from Paramount)|
|Operated by||London Resort Company Holdings|
|Previous names||Paramount Kent, Paramount Pictures Theme Park|
|Area||872 acres (353 ha)|
London Paramount Entertainment Resort (commonly referred to as London Paramount) is a proposed theme park and entertainment precinct in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012; if given the green light, construction could begin with the opening estimated for Easter 2021.
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". The name of the park has been announced as the London Paramount Entertainment Resort.
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 licensor of the park's name, Paramount Pictures. Once fully open, the park and related enterprises could sustain 27,000 jobs.
The project has received both positive and negative reactions 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. However, on 10 December 2012 the project received a boost after securing the services of Chris Townsend, as its commercial director. Townsend performed the same role for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on behalf of the London 2012 Summer Olympics 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.
The themed lands planned for the park include:
- Adventure Isle
- Land of Legends
- Cartoon Circus
- Starfleet Command
- Action Square
- Port Paramount
- Entertainment City
BBC, Aardman and BFI, British Film Institute, have been attached to the proposal and have signed a deal with Paramount. This is in hope that the park will showcase Hollywood and British culture.
The site straddles the border of the Dartford and Gravesham borough council administrative areas and both authorities have pledged their support. In July 2014 the first community consultation was held with a short series of exhibitions in the area around the peninsula.
The timetable for delivery, including the planning application process and construction timetable, is geared towards completion and opening in 2019. A planning application to Dartford Borough Council is expected to be made in 2015. The project leader is Tony Sefton of London Resort Company Holdings.
In April 2013 newspaper reports 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 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.
Infrastructure and Transport
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 International station to the New Paramount resort. 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.
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.
Crossrail's route may be altered to run as far east as Hoo Junction, just beyond Gravesend, Kent; there are no firm plans to run trains beyond Abbey Wood in south east London. It is not known if the plans for Paramount London will create a viable case for Crossrail services to serve the park. The Hoo Peninsula was also one of the proposed Thames Estuary airport sites, although this was rejected in 2014 in favour of expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick airports. There are also plans to create a road joining the theme park onto the A2 in Kent.
The development would be built on 872 acres of mostly saltmarsh (and a small amount of brownfield land) on the Swanscombe peninsula, part of the Environmentally Sensitive Area known as North Kent Marshes, and be twice the size of the Olympic Park in East London. The development would lie in the floodplain of the Inner Thames, using up one of the few remaining patches of the floodplain that is wild and undeveloped, and which is also used to accept floodwaters in order to reduce the pressure on the critical flood defences of the river. There is also concern given the marshland in question is home to several species which are endangered in the UK, including; the Distinguished Jumping Spider, Water Vole, and Marsh Harrier.
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- Coordinates: Proposed location