Published: 14:57, 02 May 2019
| Updated: 17:57, 02 May 2019
Further doubts have been raised over the proposed London Resort theme park, with experts fearing uncertainty surrounding the scheme could blight businesses and cause job losses.
Earlier this week it was announced that those behind the new plan - which replaced the failed Paramount Park scheme - had signed a new deal with ITV studios.
But excitement was muted when owners London Resort Company Holdings confirmed the deal did not extend to most major ITV programme brands, but would include rides and attractions themed around children's programmes Thunderbirds Are Go and Robozuna.
KMTV spoke residents and businesses about the ITV studios deal
That news prompted concerns the park would not attract significant crowds - but many remain sceptical that the plan will even see the light of day at all, and say uncertainty is having a negative impact on existing businesses.
Prof Richard Scase from University of Kent's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, said it was unlikely people would travel large distances to visit what has so far been proposed.
"This is aiming to be the biggest attraction in the whole of the UK," he said. "It's construction is going to be the biggest in the whole of Europe, but what brands are going to be used to bring people in?
"I find it rather surprising that ITV are getting involved with this when they don't have a particularly distinctive brand organised around a particular kind of programme or a particular celebrity.
"The two brands they seem to be referring to at them moment are children's brands.
"Now children's brands come and go and it's very expensive to promote a brand, to leverage a brand, to refresh a brand, and I don't think the two brands that have been mentioned so far are sufficiently strong enough to bring people to travel from quite large distances to come and watch those brands in action, in terms of real live experience taken from the television screen."
He added: "Since Paramount pulled out and London Resort has taken over, the whole thing's been dogged with problems.
"It's now due to open in 2024. People living in the locality are becoming more and more concerned, they don't believe it's going to happen.
"If it does happen they're also rather concerned about that - because of the congestion, because of a lack of infrastructure, and also there's a whole issue at the moment of blight, and some businesses at the moment are suffering
"So instead of this project creating 30,000 jobs we could be in a situation where jobs are being lost because local business are not investing, they're not growing, because of uncertainties about this project which still seems to be very much up in the air, and about which there seems to be a lot of secrecy, and little detailed factual information."
Dan Bramwell of the Peninsula Management Group - which represents over 100 businesses and landowners on Swanscombe Peninsula - said the theme park owners had their work cut out to win over Swanscombe businesses.
"We've heard this all before," he said. "In reality LRCH has very little credibility while it keeps making these statements and yet doesn't engage positively with businesses and other land owners, which they would have to do prior to submitting a development consent order."
Bryan Read lead member of the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents' Association, said the theme park owners needed to work more closely with Swanscombe residents, but said there was room for positivity.
"We do need to have something that integrates properly without upsetting the local area," he said. "We're trying to get something that works for the area as well as providing a bit of input into the local area, in jobs and finance.
"Traffic is one of the big problems. Traffic has always been a problem, parking has always been a problem, so we need to go along a line that addresses these problems and doesn't add to it, but in general I think that could be coped with if it's done in conjunction with local people.
"At the moment, because you're talking about a theme park that's been on the cards for a long time now most people have got used to the idea right from the early days, and many are looking forward to it."
Spokesman from London Resort Company Holdings, James McEwan, said: “We have a clear vision and are committed to delivering a world class resort. The London Resort will make an enormously positive economic and cultural contribution not only to Kent, but the whole of the UK, acting for a catalyst for the entire region and creating around 30,000 jobs.”