Published: 16:06, 07 January 2020
| Updated: 16:21, 07 January 2020
The company behind plans to build Kent's multi-billion pound theme park has racked up losses of more than £50 million but says plans are still on course.
Latest accounts revealed this week show that financial backers behind the London Resort project on the Swanscombe Peninsula had generated no revenue for the year ending December 31, 2018.
London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) made a pre-tax loss of £1.7m, down from £8.9m the previous year.
It brought its total losses to £54.8m since it began trading in 2011.
There were just two employees registered on the books and one director taking home a pay packet of £60,000.
The project is bankrolled by Kuwaiti tycoon Dr Abdullah Al-Humaidi, who also owns Ebbsfleet United Football Club.
His main company – Kuwaiti European Holding Company (KEH) – is listed in the LRCH accounts as the "ultimate parent undertaking".
It has promised to back the project financially until at least the end of this year.
The accounts show in 2018 the company repaid £8.1 million of loans to other businesses in Al-Humaidi’s KEH group
This left it with £24.4 million outstanding and net liabilities of £26 million.
Billed Britain's answer to Disneyland, the Swanscombe amusement park's journey has been something of a rollercoaster ride.
The site, which was originally announced in 2011 with an opening in 2019, has now been pushed back to at least 2024.
It nearly came off the tracks altogether when Hollywood studio Paramount – which had originally signed a naming rights deal for the project at its launch – pulled out.
This would have allowed the park to use some of its major movie names for rides and attractions, such as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and even The Italian Job.
However, Paramount has since come back on board, alongside BBC and ITV which will lend image rights from the broadcaster's portfolio.
It was also given a boost when Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, the man credited with turning round the fortunes of other lofty projects including the Millenium Dome, was announced as the new chief executive.
Also included within the group's latest set of accounts was a "non-refundable" deposit for a £3.3 million option to buy land in Swanscombe where various local businesses operate.
The company paid £1m to Swanscombe Development LLP in March to extend an option to buy the land until 2023, subject to certain conditions being met by December 23.
It is understood the £3.3m will be deducted from the purchase price if the project gets the green light.
Director of communications and strategy, Andy Martin, said they had secure around "85% of the land needed" and this option would allow them to go forward.
He also said the losses announced from the company accounts were not unusual for a "complex" project of its size, adding the scheme was still on course.
"There are not any stumbling blocks, it's just about getting the time right," he said.
He added they were dealing with "huge amounts of information" which all needed to be assessed before a public consultation could be organised.
This included the transport infrastructure, something he said was crucial to its success.
The planning application is due to be submitted later this year, alongside a public consultation.
In November, Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents' Association chairman Peter Harman revealed members were told this would take place after Christmas.
Meanwhile businesses on the land say they are operating with a "blight over them".
Dartford council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con) has lent his support to those firms, adding "as a council we have a whole number of questions that we want answered".
"I have to say after so long waiting to see progress, my sympathies lie with the people and businesses having their lives and activities disturbed every day."
He said the lack of certainty had made it difficult for them to invest or scale up their operations.
These are "ordinary businesses, not big companies", many of which have "mortgages to pay".
He hastened to add he was not against the project in concept, but held reservations given the lack of engagement so far.
"I'm not negative, I'm realistic – I want to see this land used in the right way," he said.
"They need to talk to us rather than throw press releases.
"It is about being a practical business and them meeting some deadlines."
He looked forward to reviewing detailed and "meaningful" proposals so the council can sit down and assess the "real details".
This he said included the more important aspects of transport and the impact on surrounding homes.
"The ball is in their court," he added.