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. Arabian Business