Published: 10:00, 03 March 2016
| Updated: 11:08, 15 November 2019
Almost 4,500 jobs will be under threat if a Paramount resort is built, according to business owners facing eviction from industrial estates on land earmarked for the attraction.
Bosses from about 140 firms affected by the plans said they have had no meaningful negotiations with the developers of the £3.2 billion project, with the uncertainty about their future leaving them unable to invest and expand.
The businesses, which have formed the lobbying body the Peninsula Management Group, are landowners and tenants at the Northfleet Industrial Estate, Kraft Kent Estate and Manor Way Business Park, near the Swanscombe Peninsula.
All companies on the sites, which they claim employ 2,500 people directly and 2,000 indirectly, would be forced to move if plans for London Paramount entertainment resort are approved.
However, no companies have yet been offered compensation to help them find new premises, even though a planning application for the resort is due to be submitted later this year.
Mark Hull, whose firm Gainhold owns 90,000 sq ft of industrial units on the sites, said: “The first thing you look at when you are buying a house is your budget.
“If our tenants don’t know what they are going to be offered, how can they work out what they are going to search for? It’s impossible.”
Peter Lethbridge, managing director of plastic bottle manufacturer Sabotcastle, which employs 20 people, said his firm had been unable to invest in new machinery because of the fear they may need the money to move premises.
“If we move far away we will lose members of staff. We are only as good as our staff, who are all very difficult to replace...” - Barry Bristow, Michael's Bridal Fabrics
He said: “We want to make a serious investment worth £300,000 to £400,000 but we are not going to spend that money until we have certainty.
“It is stopping us from moving forward and stopping us creating more employment.”
Peninsula Management Group estimates London Resort Company Holdings, the developers of Paramount resort, would have to pay about £500 million to get ownership of the estate and deal with compensation costs, based on their market value.
They raised concerns that many of the firms, which they estimate have a combined annual turnover of £200 million, would face going out of business because they would be unable to move staff.
Barry Bristow, business development manager at Michael’s Bridal Fabrics, which employs about 20 people, said: “All the people we employ live within a 10-mile radius of the estate.
“If we move far away we will lose members of staff. We are only as good as our staff, who are all very difficult to replace.”
Locate In Kent, an agency which tries to attract investment to the county, and finds new premises for businesses, said it would work with firms to help them find new homes.
Director of business development Peter Symons said: “This is not an easy one. It’s a period of immense uncertainty which has an impact on real people’s lives.
“It’s going to be impossible to find one location which would offer a home to all those businesses. It will be challenging, there is no doubt about it.”
London Resort Company Holdings chief executive David Testa said: “All meetings with the PMG have been held in private, nevertheless we recognise their frustrations which they have shared with us.
“This is a global project worth over £3.5bn bringing 27,000 jobs and we are determined that it will be delivered.
“We have met with the PMG a number of times in 2015 and twice already this year, agreed to organise a meeting with the local Councils and Locate in Kent regarding relocations and are working on the details.”