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London Resort bosses accused of 'failing to engage' with authorities over concerns relating to 'UK's Disneyland theme park' plan


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Developers hoping to build a £2.5bn theme park in Kent "failing to engage" with three authorities over their concerns.

It has also emerged the starting date for the examination in the London Resort project is being pushed back yet again with planning inspectors concerned about the length of time being taken to bring detailed proposals forward.

The London Resort has announced a new zone "Base Camp" dedicated to dinosaur and prehistoric discovery but the inquiry has been delayed yet again
The London Resort has announced a new zone "Base Camp" dedicated to dinosaur and prehistoric discovery but the inquiry has been delayed yet again

A letter sent to the Planning Inspectorate this month revealed fresh fears by Kent County Council, Dartford council and the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation after "very limited discussions" with developers.

London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) is aiming to build the huge new theme park on the Swanscombe Peninsula between Gravesend and Dartford.

A formal consultation is now set to take place early next year following resubmission of plans expected now in February.

The process has been hit by setbacks due to concerns over insufficient material relating to environmental protections, transport and by the allocation of the Swanscombe Marshes as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, which is being challenged by LRCH.

The final decision on the SSSI allocation was approved by the government's nature advisor yesterday.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite says there are concerns about a lack of engagement from London Resort
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite says there are concerns about a lack of engagement from London Resort

But this week, Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said there were worries among the three local authorities that they were "not fully engaging with us".

He said this related to "aspects of the application" they had raised questions with and added they wished to point out "we needed plenty of time to reflect the concerns of local people and businesses".

Cllr Kite added: "We’re simply unable to reach a judgement on many aspects of the scheme, amongst them many issues that impact the livelihood and wellbeing of local people.

"The letter also serves as a reminder that there are costs involved in considering the various iterations of the plan which come forward and the applicant is not meeting these.

“Throughout this process we have never forgotten that our primary duty is to local people and businesses.

"We are happy to keep an open mind on every aspect of the application, but the benefits to our local area represent the start and finish point of our considerations.”

The London Resort is set to be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula, which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England. Picture: EDF Energy
The London Resort is set to be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula, which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England. Picture: EDF Energy

The councils say they are concerned about a lack of documents coming forward, vague deadlines, lack of response to request for clarity on specific matters, insufficient level of detail and need to discuss transport impact which remains outstanding.

The authorities' letter also accuses LRCH of making "little progress in responding to our concerns so far" which would take a "substantial" amount of work to resolve them, which they said they "remain hopeful" can be achieved if LRCH "restarts proactive and constructive dialogue" with them.

Lead planning inspector Stuart Cowperthwaite this week wrote to LRCH and interested parties expressing the panel's own concerns about LRCH failing to submit updates on its latest round of work at the end of October.

"We’re simply unable to reach a judgement on many aspects of the scheme..."

Mr Cowperthwaite said this has led to concern "about the likelihood of the applicant meeting its latest dates" and therefore adding to "further uncertainty and delay for other parties" and the consequences this would have.

He added: "The information provided to date is not sufficiently clear on whether the applicant is addressing the full range of issues in relation to time-dependant information being sufficiently current to form the basis of an examination."

As a result the panel has called on LRCH to provide progress reports on consultation and new and updated documents to the inspectors every four weeks until the final new documents are submitted.

Mr Cowperthwaite added the panel is still yet to confirm a date for the examination to start but was now aiming to begin in June or July next year. It had been pencilled in to start in April having been pushed back in September.

LRCH was approached for comment.

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