Published: 00:00, 28 July 2014
| Updated: 09:57, 28 July 2014
After a lengthy discussion with the developers of the London Paramount Entertainment Resort, Mark Hornet has a smile from ear to ear.
“I’ve come here to make sure our business isn’t affected by where the park is going but also to find out when it starts construction,” said the operations director, 30, of vehicle-hire firm WB Services, in Northfleet.
“Being in construction and transport, we want to be involved in it and one of the companies benefiting from it happening in the area. Hopefully, it will help us grow.”
There is similar enthusiasm from homeowner Maggie Baillie, 61, whose house in Carmichael Avenue, in Ingress Park, Greenhithe, overlooks the site.
She said: “We will be able to see Paramount from where we live and support it.
“It will be great for the area’s economy and hopefully put the price of property up.
"The area needs regenerating, I just wish they could do it sooner.”
The public gushings of excitement come as the team behind the proposed London Paramount Entertainment Resort launched the first phase of the consultation on the project earlier this month.
More than 2,000 people went to four exhibitions telling how the scheme would be built on more than 700 acres on the Swanscombe Peninsula, a dormant brownfield site formerly used as a dumping ground for cement dust as part of the once-thriving quarrying industry in the area.
First put forward in 2012 by London Resort Company Holdings, the plans have outlined how the site could be regenerated with a theme park, water park, sporting facilities, an entertainment street, a staff training academy and about 5,000 hotel rooms.
As well as being a tourist attraction, the resort also aims to create an Experience Valley, where it is hoped 200 new businesses could form a hub for the UK’s creative industries in the style of Silicon Valley for digital companies in the United States.
“Even the people rightly raising concerns are still positive about it because they want to see the area regenerated for future generations,” said Fenlon Dunphy, a director at London Resort Company Holdings and its financial backers KEH.
“They are delighted to see this is real and there is a body of enthusiasm to see this happen.”
Although the initial phase of the consultation was only designed to ascertain how people want to be kept informed on the project, London Resort Company Holdings did reveal a proposed timetable for the development.
It is hoped a planning application will be submitted directly to central government next summer, with procurement running from then until summer 2016.
It aims to begin construction in the autumn that year, with the park opening aimed for summer 2019.
Project leader Tony Sefton said: “Come October, the next stage of exhibitions will be more detailed. Then the fun stuff starts to come out. The key message is ‘it’s coming’. It’s happening now.”
Dartford Borough Council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite said: “There must be whole regions of the country green with envy that we have this happening here.
“We need to work out how we are going to trap all the procurement that comes out of this for local firms.”
“There will be some exciting news ahead about that to make sure it is companies from Kent who are getting the business.”
While politicians fight to protect the interests of local businesses, things are likely to take care of themselves for home owners if the project is given the all clear.
“It can only enhance house values,” said Jason Willetts, director at estate agent Ward and Partners in Kent.
“It brings greater facilities and employment to the area, coupled with a large amount of development that is going on in Ebbsfleet anyway.
“It’s a great reason for people to look at the area who would not have done so before.
“To put a figure on the rise is impossible but it will only be a positive impact on house values.”
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