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Thu 1 Oct 2015 03:40 PM

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Kuwait-backed $3.6bn London theme park opening to be delayed until at least 2021

Management behind the London Paramount Entertainment Resort say they need more time to submit its planning permission application

Kuwait-backed $3.6bn London theme park opening to be delayed until at least 2021

The developer
behind plans for a $3.6 billion Kuwaiti-owned, Paramount-branded theme park set
to be built near London has confirmed it will not submit a planning application for the project until at least late 2016, meaning the opening of the attraction will be delayed by a year until at least 2021, it was reported.

The London
Paramount Entertainment Resort, which was launched in October 2012 and is being
fully funded by the Kuwaiti European Holding (KEH) Group, was set to submit its
paperwork to planning authorities this autumn. However, this has now been
delayed until mid-2016, meaning the opening of the development will also be pushed back a year, the second time the project has been delayed.

The project is
located on an 872-acre brownfield site on Kent’s Swanscombe peninsula, just 17
minutes on the train from Central London, and construction work was originally due to start in autumn 2016.

"We have
and will continue to carry out further environmental and transport studies to
guarantee a robust Development Consent Order application, ensuring we get both
the business and masterplan right while giving consideration to matters raised
during the consultation process,” London Paramount chief executive David Testa was
quoted as saying by the Kent Online
news website
.

"In light
of our ongoing studies and detailed discussions with the Planning Inspectorate‎
and local authorities, we have decided to give ourselves a bit more time to do
this and to revise our submission date for the Development Consent Order.

"It is
critical that the application for London Paramount is comprehensive when we
present it to the Planning Inspectorate and so we ‎have decided to submit the
application in mid-2016. This will see the Entertainment Resort open in
2021."

Earlier this week,
it was reported around 100 British companies near the planned site have joined together to raise concerns about the project, claiming
it will result in the relocation of their businesses and the loss of thousands
of jobs.

In May, the Peninsula
Management Group (PMG) was set up and consists of companies located in north
Kent which will have to be relocated in order to make way for the planned
resort.

To make way for
the park hundreds of businesses located in the Manor Way Business Park in
Swanscombe, the Northfleet Industrial Estate and the Kent Kraft Estate in
Northfleet will have to relocate to new premises.

The project was
designated as ‘Nationally Significant’ in May 2014 by the UK's Secretary of
State for Communities and Local Government and, as a result, developers will be
able to use compulsory purchase order to move the businesses out of make way
for the park.

“It is unlikely
any suitable empty industrial properties or sites are available in the
immediate vicinity to accommodate this number of businesses unless the local
authorities start to make an urgent allocation within their plans,” PMG
director Doug Hilton was quoted as saying by Kent Business news website.

"The local
and wider communities, from which many of the employees and owners materialise,
will lose a huge range of skills and jobs if these businesses are destroyed or
forced to relocate out of the immediate area.”

London Resort
Company Holdings (LRCH), the company behind the park’s plans, had previously
stated the attraction would generate up to 27,000 new jobs for the area, but
the PMG claimed the issue relocation issue could result in the loss of 5,000
jobs.

“If it destroys
all these jobs before it even starts then the theme park will simply not be
creating anywhere near the number of employment opportunities it has so far
claimed,” Hilton said.

However, LRCH director
Fenlon Dunphy said: “While there is a lack of suitable supply of business
premises in the immediate locality, our agents are undertaking a comprehensive
search for premises within Gravesham, Dartford and the wider region towards
Medway and Maidstone.

“We are doing everything
we can to ensure this process runs as smoothly as possible. We are working hard
to ensure businesses can be given the best opportunities for relocation and
therefore jobs are transferred rather than lost.

“While we
appreciate that some people are concerned about possible job losses, London
Paramount will be a long-term provider of up to 27,000 jobs in local boroughs
as well as in the wider county and South East.”

Despite the
PMG’s concerns, the plans for the park were given a ringing endorsement by
local residents in the latest round of public consultations.

Earlier this
year, between April and May, 3,425 people attended public consultation events
and 731 people then filled in feedback forms and it was found that 77 percent
of those who participated said they thought the plans will would benefit the
area, LRCH has revealed.

Dunphy told The
Reporter
newspaper: “We were heartened to see so many people take the time to
contribute to the consultation. We are hugely excited about the proposition, and
are delighted to discover this perspective is shared by the majority of local
people. Over the past year we have seen a huge amount of interest from those
looking to provide services to the resort, and we hope that local businesses
wishing to register their interest will continue to get in touch.”

During the
consultation events with the public, a new set of images and a large scale
model of the theme resort were unveiled in April. The project is expected to
attract around 15 million people a year, or around 50,000 a day, when it is up
and running. It will include multiple zones, including Adventure Isle, Land of
Legends, Cartoon Circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square, Port Paramount and
Entertainment City.

In addition to
50 rides and attractions, it will include a 2,000 seat theatre with regular
West End quality shows, 11,000 square metres of exhibition space showcasing the
best of British inventions and brands, over 11,000 restaurant covers in a
variety of food outlets, 15,000 sq m of retail space, a plaza area with regular
live entertainment, a cinema and comedy venue, the largest indoor water park in
Europe, 5,000 hotel bedrooms and a creative business space for British
businesses.

The key source
of inspiration for the resort is a licensing agreement with Paramount Licencing
Inc, giving LRCH exclusive rights to use Paramount’s intellectual property in
the UK, including films such as ‘The Godfather,’ ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’
‘Mission Impossible,’ ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Italian Job’ and ‘Titanic.’

In addition,
the company has signed a number of additional partnerships, including a deal
with BBC Worldwide, giving the resort access to some of the British
broadcaster’s most popular shows including ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Top Gear’ and
‘Sherlock’, which could all be turned into theme park rides and attractions for
visiting fans.

In February, it
signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aardman Animations, one of the
UK’s leading animation studios, and the producers behind a number of
award-winning feature films and TV series including ‘Chicken Run’, ‘Pirates
Band of Misfits’, the ‘Wallace and Gromit’ franchise and the ‘Shaun The Sheep’
TV series.

And in March
LRCH announced that the British Film Institute (BFI) had joined the project to
provide strategic cultural counsel. The BFI was set up in 1933 and it maintains
the world’s largest film archive, containing more than 50,000 fiction films,
over 100,000 non-fiction titles and around 625,000 television programmes.

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