Published: 16:00, 06 March 2017
The Government will decide whether a Paramount entertainment resort in Kent will be given the go-ahead by the summer of 2019 and it will open by 2022, according to developers.
A planning application for the theme park and hotels on the Swanscombe Peninsula will be submitted by the end of November.
Humphrey Percy, the new chief executive of London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), which is developing the project, said he had taken over the scheme because it needed “a different skillset” to his predecessor.
He spoke to KentOnline at the Hilton Hotel in Dartford today to allay any concerns that the project was in crisis.
The opening date for the resort has been put back three times as developers have grappled with its complex planning process.
It is obligated to submit an application direct to the Government, known as a development consent order (DCO), after being given the status of a nationally significant infrastructure project.
Mr Percy replaced David Testa as chief executive last month, who quit days after doubts were raised about a £100 million Chinese investment in the resort.
He said: “This is a £3.5 billion project. We have already invested tens of millions of pounds into this project. By any definition of any business it’s a big deal.
“At a group level we decided that would be a good idea for me to devote my energy and my enthusiasm into this project first hand.
“The decision was taken at group level and as a result of that we agreed with David for him to move on and it was agreed at group board level that I would take responsibility.
“The team before was focusing on different things. We decided at the beginning of the year that we need to give additional emphasis to the DCO application.
“It’s an unbelieveably complicated and detailed application, which it should be for a project of this size.
“We hope to get a decision 15 to 18 months after acceptance of the application.”
If approved, construction will begin shortly after the decision and “certainly in 2019”.
“The decision was taken at group level and as a result of that we agreed with David Testa for him to move on and it was agreed at group board level that I would take responsibility..." - Humphrey Percy, London Paramount
Mr Percy, who has a home in Penshurst, near Tunbridge Wells, made a number of other appointments after taking control of the Paramount project.
Mike Morrison, who has held senior positions at investment bank Morgan Stanley and WestLB AG, has been hired as chief financial officer.
Kevin Doyle, who has worked on the entertainment resort project from the start, has been appointed DCO coordinator.
Mr Doyle has worked on EuroDisney and the Disney Village in Paris as well as Canary Wharf and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Mr Percy said: “He has got to marshall all the different inputs into that DCO application and make sure that it is submitted successfully this year.
“This Paramount project is extremely important to us and we decided at group level that we should focus my attention on this.
“We are entering a new phase of the project now and really getting going with the DCO application.”