UK residents wanting to experience world class theme park attractions have always had to travel abroad for the privilege. Such excursions can be costly and many people have to save up for some considerable time to afford the holiday. If you are considering a trip to Disneyland Paris or beyond, before you start saving you should know that in the not too distant future you may not need to pack your luggage to enjoy a theme park adventure as plans are afoot to build a major park close to London.
London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) has announced plans to build a Paramount theme park on the Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent. The ambitious plans are for an 872 acre entertainment complex which would include the theme park, Europe’s largest indoor water park, a country park, theatres, cinemas and event space. The park would be one of the four largest in the world. The proposed development would not be funded by Paramount but would use the company’s properties like Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and Paranormal Activity to theme the attractions and rides. The entertainment on offer would include a large carnival and night time spectacular to rival Disney’s offering. Other potential rides and features are being researched to see which would be of most interest and benefit to visitors. The site would cover an area twice the size of the Olympic park and the aim is to make the park the biggest tourist attraction in Europe.
The Swanscombe Peninsula
The area targeted for the development of the park is a brownfield site which was formerly home to a cement works. As such there is little chance of the plans being blocked due to concerns over spoiling the natural beauty of the region! The peninsula is ideally situated for tourism being close to London, the M25, The A2 and Ebbsfleet International station for Eurostar Services to and from Europe. Few areas on the continent could be so suitable for such a project.
The new park would be a massive boost to the local economy potentially providing up to 27,000 new jobs in the region with 7,000 being in the resort itself, 3,000 in the accompanying hotels, 4,000 in commercial businesses supporting the project, 3,000 from UK and international firms basing themselves locally and 10,000 in the local area supplying services to the park. Unlike the existing theme parks in the UK the Paramount park would be open all year round with many of the attractions being indoors and so the jobs created would not just be seasonal. There are plans to include employment opportunities for young people and for those over retirement age.
LRCH are stressing their aim to incorporate environmentally friendly features into the development including the installation of solar panels onto the roof spaces and recycling water. Environmentalists may have objections to the site as it lies close to where the remains of 250,000-year-old “Swanscombe Man” were found and a wildlife haven for wading birds is nearby along the Thames marshes.
Will it Happen?
Well don’t pack your luggage just yet… Apart from the aforementioned environmental concerns the project is receiving a great deal of support. Both Dartford and Gravesham borough councils are behind the plans and the local response has been mostly positive. With a brownfield site available close to excellent transport links in a region that could do with an economic boost it is hard to imagine why this exciting project would not happen. The current plans are for a 2018 opening and so in a little over 5 years the UK could be home to Europe’s biggest tourist attraction.
Sally S is a theme park junkie and ex ride operator at Thorpe Park which houses Europe’s tallest and fastest roller coaster. You can find out more about Sally Stacey via her Google+ profile.