Published: 15:18, 03 June 2020
| Updated: 12:22, 04 June 2020
Developers behind plans for an ambitious £5 billion entertainment resort in Kent have announced details of its public consultation.
The London Resort project was first announced in 2012 and if approved will be built on the grounds of the Swanscombe Peninsula.
Billed as Britain's answer to Disneyland it is one of the most ambitious theme park projects in Europe and would be the first to be built from scratch since the Paris attraction in 1992.
When completed it will eventually be a two-park resort with the first "gate" opening in 2024 ahead of a second five years later in 2029.
Bosses say around 70% of attractions would be under cover to ward off concerns over the unpredictable English weather.
Originally due to open in 2019, the site is yet to see any construction work as the submission of its planning application has been subject to repeat delay.
That has now been pushed back until at least October and last year it was announced it had chalked up more than £50m in losses.
However, developers have today announced the steps it will be taking towards the final submission of their masterplan.
This includes proposals for a public consultation to be held across August and September.
Speaking in April, London Resort communications director Andy Martin said theme park bosses had been holding Zoom calls with all concerned parties and fine-tuning their plans.
He added they had also been considering how a public consultation might look post-lockdown.
As a result of Covid-19 this will be a largely digital process with hard copies of information available on request.
Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, the man tasked with delivering the vision for the theme park to be built between Gravesend and Dartford announced he had recovered from the virus in April.
The French entrepreneur honed his craft at Disneyland Paris but is perhaps best known as salvaging the heavily criticised London Millennium Dome.
He said: “We obviously can’t hold a public consultation in the normal way but we will make sure we reach out to local residents and businesses as well as the wider community and stakeholders.
"We are talking to government about how we will be using digital technology, websites, video conferences and online question and answer sessions.”
In addition to this, the project will also be publishing a 300-page environmental scoping report on June 12.
This they say will relate to how the London Resort will test and assess impacts of the proposals, including heritage, flooding, noise, transport strategy and economic impacts.
It has previously stated how they would be looking to create a shift away from cars and increase the use of public transport for the development.
In an October meeting with a government body, theme park bosses gave updates on the potential attractions the project would feature, including "futuristic" ideas such as e-sports arenas and other forms of immersive technologies.
The London Resort has already struck deals with the BBC and ITV Studios to lend naming rights to rides and attractions, as well as Paramount Pictures which rejoined the project after an initial u-turn.
Meanwhile businesses on the Swanscombe Peninsula say they are operating with a "blight over them" ahead of any option to purchase the land they are on.
Repeat delays to the application led Dartford MP Gareth Johnson to say theme park bosses were now drinking "in the last chance saloon" amid fears the project is now endangering jobs.
But London Resort says it has written to the relevant community liaison group to help share information about the project and contacted advisers of affected local businesses, setting out terms for the acquisition of land including an additional premium.
In a statement it said: "Offers will be made to secure land options including a (non-refundable) fee. Should LRCH need to extend the option agreement for the further two years, a further fee which is the same amount will be payable by LRCH to the claimant at the time the option is extended.
The project was the first "business or commercial project" to be earmarked as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
Such major infrastructure projects hold special status which allows them to bypass local planning requirements but they must obtain a development consent order to commence work.
PY Gerbeau remains confident about their ability to do so and praised the "strong progress" made during the current pandemic.
He said: “The team has been immense, working incredibly hard during these awful times.
"I joined just under a year ago and we are always being asked to hurry up.
"Well, I am happy to tell you we have made strong progress and these reports are hugely important.
"This is a significant step in transforming an amazing and ambitious dream into reality."
More by this authorSean Delaney
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