Published: 00:02, 24 March 2015
The businessman who first envisioned building a Paramount-themed resort in Kent has left the project to pursue other ventures.
Tony Sefton, an expert in demographics and location analysis, first unveiled his idea to build the £2 billion tourist destination in 2012.
The scheme, considered by many as the county’s answer to Disneyland, has since been backed by the Kuwaiti owners of Ebbsfleet United FC, with plans to open in Easter 2020.
Mr Sefton, a graduate of Exeter University, set up London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) after identifying the Swanscombe Peninsula between Gravesend and Dartford as a good location for the project.
He worked with the government to get his plans – set to create 27,000 jobs – designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, aimed at speeding up its delivery by bypassing local planning authorities.
However, after gaining Kuwaiti investment in 2013, the Oxfordshire-based leisure strategy consultant became seriously ill with a virus for many months and was forced to scale back his involvement.
He is now said to be looking to pursue new major projects.
LRCH director Fenlon Dunphy said: “We want to express our sincere thanks to Tony for the energy, enthusiasm and hard work he has brought to this project.
“Tony has played an important role alongside the senior leadership team in the original vision and moving the project forward from its early inception.”
Mr Sefton said: “It’s been a pleasure bringing this project from a fascinating idea to a very real proposition underpinned by a solid business plan.
“I wish the team and the good people of North Kent the greatest of success.”
BBC Worldwide and Aardman Studios have signed agreements for their intellectual property to be used in the resort, including Doctor Who and Wallace and Gromit.
The British Film Institute also revealed this month it will be a cultural advisor.
A planning application is due to be submitted in autumn this year, with a decision expected by the Communities Secretary around the winter of 2016.
More by this authorChris Price