The £3.5 billion Paramount theme park being built near Essex is still on course to open in 2022, the attraction's bosses have insisted!
London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), the group behind the theme park, has recently brought in a group of senior recruits in the hope that they will drive forward the plans for what's being called 'the UK's Disneyland'.
They are confident the plans will be approved when what's known as a development consent order (DCO) is submitted to the government in November 2017.
The huge theme park will be built in Dartford in Kent, just 16 miles from Brentwood, and will be the first and biggest of its kind in the UK. Featuring rides based on Paramount Pictures films such as Star Trek and Top Gun, it's estimated that it could attract up to 40,000 visitors per day and will be inspired by Paramount films as well as productions from the BBC and Aardman Animations.
Humphrey Percy, group CEO of the project's parent company Kuwaiti European Holdings, said he is confident that plans will be approved and affordable, saying: "We have the financial backing to take us all the way through that process."
The project hit the headlines in February when chief executive David Testa resigned after Chinese investment firm SinoFortone raised doubts over their £100million pledge, but Mr. Percy, said Testa's departure was "coincidental" and he has simply resigned to "go off and do other things".
Mr Percy said: "With any project of this length, people come and go. The stage we are going through now is absolutely focused on the development consent order process. We decided in the KEH Group that we needed a team that can achieve that.
"Moving myself from the group level into this role is a sign of our commitment and determination to make it all happen."
Mike Morrison has been hired as the new Chief Financial Officer and in the past has held senior positions at Morgan Stanley and WestLB AG. He also has a wealth of experience in property, business management and accounting.
Kevin Doyle is the man responsible for successfully submitting the DCO. Humphrey Percy said that Doyle has been part of delivering some of the largest entertainment projects across the globe, including EuroDisney and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
If the government approves the plans, building work can start as soon as 2019 with the park scheduled to open in 2022 – two years later than their original estimate.
The 872-acre theme park resort will be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula and will include rides, rollercoasters, a theatre, retail and food outlets, hotels and a nightclub.
Around 40,000 visitors are expected daily, so there'll also be space for 14,000 cars and ticket packages that will combine travel and entry costs to promote the use of public transport.
Mr. Percy said: "We are working with the railways to make sure there's sufficient capacity. We're also considering having a boat from central London or Greenwich which will all be part of the attraction."
What will be there?
Rides at the park will be inspired by Paramount Films as well as the BBC and Aardman Animations, but because there will no doubt be new films released between now and the opening date, there has been no final decision made on the specific rollercoasters that will be featured. It is currently unknown whether Paramount's sister brand Nickelodeon will have a presence at the park.
The park, when it does open, is said to include zones such as 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 sq m of exhibition space showcasing the best of British inventions and brands, along with over 11,000 restaurant covers in a variety of food outlets.
Mr Percy said: "We're working with world class theme park design companies to make sure that we have a real attraction. I'm talking about companies that have their headquarters in California and support the major film studios and attractions across the world."
Mr Percy declined to comment on the specific rollercoaster manufacturers involved.
How much will it cost to get in?
A full price ticket for one day's entry has a drafted price of £57, and price packages will be developed around that.
What will it mean for the area?
An estimated 33,000 jobs will be created, and around 55 per cent of these roles are expected to be filled by people in the "immediate area". Resort bosses believe the project will be a "catalyst for continued improvement and investment in Kent" and feel that many of their visitors will link in trips to local tourist attractions during their stay.
Mr Percy said: "We will make sure that this experience is for the whole family. It's going to be a very amazing and exciting thing for them."
Before the plans can be submitted, a fifth and final statutory public consultation will be held later this year, where anyone can drop in and ask questions about the project as it moves forward, details of which will be released at londonparamount.info.
More Nick: First-Look At Nickelodeon's New Family Entertainment Centre At intu Lakeside!
Sources: Essex Live, Daily Mail Online.
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