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Published: 14:24, 08 October 2012 |
Updated: 09:48, 08 January 2014
Kent's leaders have reacted to the major news a £2bn theme park - the size of a Disney attraction - could be built in the county.
It was revealed earlier today the international attraction on the Swanscombe Peninsula could feature Europe's largest indoor water park, theatres, live music venues, attractions, cinemas, restaurants, event space and hotels.
It could take Paramount 18 months to get planning permission for the large-scale project, with the theme park due to open in 2018.
It has been given a general thumbs-up from everyone from council leaders to those who live and work in the area.
John Burden, leader of Gravesham council, described the news as "a very exciting opportunity for the area".
He added: "We have been looking for something that will bring the area alive for some time.
"I think this will help not just the area of Dartford and Gravesham but the other areas in north west Kent.
"I have been actually dealing with the various promoters over the last 18 months to a year."
Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con), Leader of Dartford council, said - like Cllr Burden - he had been sworn to secrecy.
"We are quite relieved it is now in the open, and we can begin the really interesting debate with local people about what it means to them and to us as a community."
He said the plan was to create a "huge celebration of Britain".
He said the scheme was similar to those in America where towns had been transformed but had not become Mickey Mouse communities.
"Transport will be the key to this," he said.
Paul Wookey, chief executive of Locate in Kent, the agency that promotes the county as a great place for business growth, said the project was of such a massive scale it could only be compared to a Disney theme park.
"This will be one of the biggest job creation projects we've ever seen in Kent, on the same scale as the likes of Disney.
"It's a great project to have in the county and ticks all the boxes. With the economy still struggling through recession, we must welcome projects of this type."
Kent County Council highways chief Cllr Bryan Sweetland (Con) said the park would need good road and motorway access.
He confirmed the Department for Transport is now looking at a significant variation to one of the three possible routes for an additional Thames Crossing.
Cllr Sweetland said: "The possibility of a new Thames Crossing at the Swanscombe peninsula must now be taken very seriously."
The complex will see 17,000 jobs created at the park, with another 10,000 among suppliers and service organisations.
The plan also includes proposals to raise the land and tackle flood risks along the waterfront.
Mark Dance, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development for Kent County Council, said the project was in line with some of the things the council had been doing concerning infrastructure.
That was to get the roads infrastructure in place to "excite" house building in and around Ebbsfleet and Eastern Quarry.
He said he saw visitors arriving via cruise and other ships, but he also believed the issue would put the third Thames crossing back on the map.
Jonathan Sundin, of Maison Maurice - a beer and soft drink wholesalers based on the Northfleet industrial estate nearby - said he knew nothing of the development until today.
He said: "I think something like this must be good for the general area.
"How it will affect local businesses in this part of the world - it is mostly industrial and there will probably be a conflict of interests somewhere along the line - is yet to be seen."
He said he was disappointed that he hadn't been informed, as he had put in plans and was looking to develop the company's site.
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