Published: 20:50, 07 November 2018
| Updated: 20:52, 07 November 2018
The financial backer of long-running plans for a £5 billion entertainment resort has taken over the reins with "regret more progress has not been made" as it is revealed its opening date has been pushed back yet again.
Dr Abdulla Al-Humaidi has taken a "personal role" in the management of London Resort Company Holdings, the firm behind theme park proposals for north Kent.
He has also admitted for the first time the resort's opening date has been pushed back for a fifth time by another year to 2024, with a planning application now scheduled to be submitted next year.
The management shake-up comes after its chief executive since March 2017, Humphrey Percy, returned to his position as boss of investment advisors Armilla Capital.
It follows news last week that a new investor Keltbray, an engineering group, has promised to inject £25 million into the resort, which is set to create 33,000 jobs.
Dr Al Humaidi, who is also chairman and owner of Ebbsfleet United, first invested in the resort plans five years ago, promising to keep the plans afloat financially until a planning application could be submitted.
The London Resort project, set to be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula between Gravesend and Dartford, was originally going to be inspired by Paramount Pictures, with the film studio lending its name to the resort’s rides and attractions.
However, developers made a shock split with Paramount last year but said cutting ties with the Hollywood giants would not affect its goal to submit a planning application.
Speaking today, Dr Al-Humaidi said: “I am very pleased to be able to announce that I am taking personal control and responsibility for the London Resort project.
"The team have delivered an excellent foundation, but very much regret that more progress has not been made.
"Since I first invested in the project five years ago, I have been determined to see a high quality, world class resort brought forwards.
“Significant funds have been committed, and spent, in the pursuit of those goals.
"This has been an important chapter in my journey with the resort and we are ready to take it to the next stage."
He continued: "Our recent agreement with Keltbray was the first of my initiatives and there are more to follow.
"We will submit our planning application next year and I look forward to personally opening this fantastic facility in 2024.”
Outgoing chief executive Humphrey Percy had described the planning application for the project as "unbelievably complicated and detailed".
The latest developments come as engineering and construction group Keltbray forms a joint venture with London Resort Company Holdings, the company now headed by Dr Al-Humaidi.
Speaking of Dr Al Humaidi's takeover, London Resort Company Holdings chairman Steve Norris, a former transport minister, welcomed the move.
He said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Humphrey for his enormous efforts on behalf of the project during often trying times and we all wish him well in his new position.
"I am delighted that Dr Al-Humaidi has decided to take personal charge of our project," he said.
"He has not only been the principal funder of our project but has always led from the front."
The London Resort aims to combine the very best of entertainment in a single resort location.
The huge £5 billion investment will transform seven million square feet of land into two theme parks celebrating brands from across literature, television, music, film and entertainment and will create 30,000 jobs.
Mr Norris added: "All our efforts now are on obtaining the necessary Development Consent Order and delivering a world class entertainment resort at Ebbsfleet, only minutes from St Pancras and on a direct line from Continental Europe."