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Paramount resort timescale 'fairytale thinking' say businesses facing upheaval from theme park development in Swanscombe

By Chris Price

Businesses facing upheaval from a future Paramount resort in Kent have accused developers of “fairytale thinking” for aiming to submit their planning application by November.

Representatives of more than 140 companies and landowners affected by the £3.5 billion project on Swanscombe Peninsula said its bosses had “woefully underestimated” the level of work involved.

Earlier this month, the new chief executive of London Paramount said the attraction is on target to open by 2022 after pushing back the opening date three times.

Members of the Peninsula Management Group are concerned about what will happen to their livelihoods if London Paramount goes ahead

He said a decision by the Government on its planning application is expected by summer 2019.

That was met with scepticism from business owners at Kent Kraft, Manor Way Business Park and Northfleet Industrial Estate, which will be swallowed up by the theme park should it get the go-ahead.

The firms – which have formed the lobbying body Peninsula Management Group (PMG) – employ about 2,750 people directly with a combined turnover of £300 million.

Spokesman Dan Bramwell said: “The proposals are fairytale thinking in terms of timescales.

“Some of the directors of PMG have many years’ experience in major development programmes and know that the timescales stated are woefully underestimated.”

Three industrial estates are in the heart of the land earmarked for London Paramount entertainment resort

He accused directors of Paramount’s developers London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) of failing to meet businesses face-to-face, despite the project being five years old.

He said: “There has been no pro-active engagement now since summer 2016 and, despite all the assurances about funding, LRCH has failed to respond to proposals on how these businesses can be relocated should the project proceed.

“It is blatantly obvious that the LRCH directors have no comprehension and understanding of the complexities and working relationships of these businesses.

“We look forward to addressing this in the near future so that we can work with them to look at solutions.”

PMG announced in July that up to 1,000 jobs could be created on its industrial estates if businesses there were allowed to expand without the risk of being displaced by the Paramount resort.

Peninsula Management Group spokesman Dan Bramwell

The group has previously said LRCH would have to pay about £500 million to get ownership of the estate and deal with compensation costs, based on their market value.

Mr Bramwell said: “We have been looking for suitable relocation sites for the businesses for the last couple of years but without success so unless they have a magic wand, these businesses will be homeless.”

He said Ebbsfleet United owner Dr Abdula al-Humaidi, whose family is bankrolling the project, had “made great play in the past about business deals in Britain being win-win situations for both parties”.

He said: “This certainly is not the case here so perhaps he should visit Swanscombe to speak to those who will be most affected by this ludicrous proposal.

“In a nutshell, the proposals being announced are nothing new but the original fairytale thinking just being re-launched without any further thought.”

London Paramount said a date had been set for a formal meeting with PMG this week and that its previous chief executive David Testa had previously visited the businesses affected.

Spokesman Andy Martin said: “We look forward to meeting them again.”

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