Published: 00:05, 01 July 2016
Up to 1,000 jobs could be created on a group of industrial estates at risk of closure to make way for a leisure resort.
The proposals for seven acres of redundant land near Swanscombe Peninsula, between Gravesend and Dartford, would add to more than 2,500 people already employed by about 140 firms there.
The scheme – which would feature sites for office-based businesses, services and manufacturing – is being drafted by landowners of Northfleet Industrial Estate, Kent Kraft Industrial Estate and Manor Way Business Park.
Each site is under threat by proposals to build a £3.2 billion Paramount entertainment resort, which its developers say would create 27,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The landowners are part of the Peninsula Management Group, a lobbying body seeking adequate compensation for the businesses on the site should they be forced to move by the theme park plans.
Its chairman Doug Hilton said their proposals were credible and should be supported because they own the site, do not need major infrastructure and have funding in place.
He said: “Suitable commercial properties in north Kent are currently in very short supply and by developing the existing vacant seven acres we can create space for further businesses which could create approximately 1,000 full-time jobs.
“Furthermore, by reconfiguring the estates, we could create substantially more space for businesses and thus employment opportunities, potentially another 1,000 jobs as well. We are already investing heavily in new infrastructure to ensure the estates meet the required standards.”
A planning application for the attraction has been delayed several times and is not expected until next year at the earliest.
The project’s developers, London Resort Company Holdings, reaffirmed that funding remains in place for the project through to the end of the planning stage.
In light of the leave vote in the EU referendum, chief executive David Testa said: “Funding for London Paramount isn’t going to be affected by the decision as this will be a global resort with global appeal.”
Nick Dunigan, a director of Kent Kraft Estate, said: “These estates were torn apart by HS1 in the late 1990s and early 2000s when 60% of businesses were forced to close or move away.
“Thus, this is a case of deja vu but this time it is not a major infrastructure project but the threat is a ‘dreamworld’ theme park that has no funding, no credibility, and little substance.
"If north Kent wants to retain a vibrant economy, the Swanscombe Peninsula estates must be protected so that all the businesses can feel secure for the future.”
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation spokesman Mark Templeton said: “We cannot comment on any application that we have not seen and has not been dealt with by planning officers or our planning committee.”
London Resort Company Holdings said it would not comment until it had seen the application.