London Resort theme park moves step closer to reality after clearing first government hurdle

·2-min read

A huge new theme park on the banks of the River Thames in Kent has moved a step closer to reality after its application was given the government go-ahead for a public inquiry.

The London Resort, which would be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula between Dartford and Gravesend, has already been accepted as being a "Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project", meaning a Development Consent Order is needed to progress to the next stage.

The ambitious site, which has been dubbed by some as being the UK's version of Disneyland (despite Disney having nothing to do with it), will be a 4.6-sq-km development featuring hotels, rides and entertainment venues.

London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), which is leading the £3.5bn project, says the development will bring new infrastructure, investment and jobs to the local area, as well as making use of an empty brownfield site.

Paramount Pictures, behind films such as Titanic, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, is also part of the development, with LRCH acquiring the licenses to have rides based on its movies.

Almost a decade after it was first announced, the 25,000-page application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and was cleared to move to the next stage by the relevant secretary of state.

Mr Jenrick, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, will now lead a public inquiry into the venue - a process which could take 12 to 18 months.

If approved, LRCH would then be able to move forward, with the aim of starting work next year and opening the first of two planned theme parks in 2024. The second would follow in 2029.

That's well beyond the original target date of 2019, pitched when the project was unveiled in 2012.

After numerous delays and setbacks since then, the project has enjoyed renewed momentum following the 2019 appointment to chief executive of French businessman PY Gerbeau, who previously worked on the Millennium Dome (now The O2 Arena) and Disneyland Paris.

Mr Gerbeau said: "It's taken an enormous effort from everyone involved to get to where we are today.

"We have always said our ambition is to build much more than just a theme park. It will be a beacon of world class entertainment and experiences within a world-leading sustainable environment.

"We still have a long way to go and we are very much looking forward to working with the Planning Inspectorate over the coming months. But, from where we were, less than 18 months ago, today is a game changer and a very special day to celebrate."

It is thought that conservationists will argue about environmental impact on the local area as part of the hearings, with some activists rushing to get the peninsula earmarked as a site of special specific interest, due to it being home to a number of at-risk species.