Published: 00:10, 29 September 2015
About 100 businesses facing relocation if a future Paramount entertainment resort goes ahead say they have barely been contacted by its developers and fear heavy job losses.
Peninsula Management Group (PMG) has been set up by companies in north Kent affected by the proposed theme park, many of which say there are no suitable industrial sites which can accommodate them nearby.
The body, founded in May, is carrying out an employment survey to assess the impact of the resort on the Swanscombe Peninsula between Gravesend and Dartford.
It estimates about 5,000 jobs will be affected directly or indirectly if the attraction goes ahead.
Losses on that scale could mitigate the impact of the 27,000 jobs the park says it will create in the future.
Many companies fear they will be forced to move quickly if the so-called London Paramount is approved because its developers, London Resort Company Holdings, will be able to use compulsory purchase powers handed down from the government.
However, the attraction’s bosses says they have met representatives of the group and have been in contact with the freeholders and long leaseholders on the estates.
The companies affected lie on Manor Way Business Park in Swanscombe, the Northfleet Industrial Estate and the Kent Kraft Estate in Northfleet.
PMG director Doug Hilton said: “It is unlikely any suitable empty industrial properties or sites are available in the immediate vicinity to accommodate this number of businesses unless the local authorities start to make an urgent allocation within their plans.
"This will mean any application for relocation premises will have to be fast-tracked and new units built, many of which will have to be customised to suit specific needs, before the leisure park development can commence.
“PMG’s most pressing concern is the security and continuity of the businesses, most of which are long standing, family-run entities, which have already had to endure similar turmoil when Union Railways ripped the heart out of these estates for the HS1 line.
"The local and wider communities, from which many of the employees and owners materialise, will lose a huge range of skills and jobs if these businesses are destroyed or forced to relocate out of the immediate area.
“If it destroys all these jobs before it even starts then the theme park will simply not be creating anywhere near the number of employment opportunities it has so far claimed.”
London Resort Company Holdings director Fenlon Dunphy, on behalf of London Paramount, said: “While there is a lack of suitable supply of business premises in the immediate locality, our agents are undertaking a comprehensive search for premises within Gravesham, Dartford and the wider region towards Medway and Maidstone.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure this process runs as smoothly as possible.
“We are working hard to ensure businesses can be given the best opportunities for relocation and therefore jobs are transferred rather than lost.
“While we appreciate that some people are concerned about possible job losses, London Paramount will be a long-term provider of up to 27,000 jobs in local boroughs as well as in the wider county and South East.”