Will there be a Disneyland in the UK? What is the London Resort, where will it be - is it likely to open

It is one of the most ambitious new theme parks in Europe since Disneyland Paris opened in 1992

The London Resort is set to be a two-park resort with hopes of the first to open in 2024 and the second set in 2029.

It is the most ambitious new attraction in Europe since Disneyland Paris in 1992.

It was first announced in 2012, with the park set to be three times larger than any other in the UK spanning across 535 acres - the equivalent of 136 Wembley stadiums.

However, doubt has been cast over whether the resort will open in the UK as the planning process continues, BBC and ITV pull the plug on their involvement and environmentalists slam the project.

Where will it be built?

The ambitious theme park project is earmarked for the Swanscombe Peninsula in north Kent, along the banks of the River Thames between Dartford and Gravesend.

If built, the £2.5 billion resort will cover 1,245 acres and would dwarf Alton Towers, the UK’s current largest theme park.

The area was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the local wildlife.

What will the theme park be like?

It’s promised thrill-seekers some of the fastest rides in Europe, a huge indoor water park, theatres, and an e-sports arena, and will create nearly 50,000 jobs.

The London Resort will be split into six different themed lands, with a water park, three hotels and a shopping district.

Visitors can start their journey in The Studios, a modern-day warehouse district with blockbuster action movie features, including car chases.

To the north lies The Woods, an enchanted area putting a new take on well-known bedtime stories and fairy tales.

The Kingdom is located next to The Woods where there will be an immersive realm of swords, sorcery, dragons and legend based on King Arthur’s legends.

There will also be a land of giant creatures with high-tech rides named The Isles and The Jungle featuring ancient ruins.

The final land encompasses a futuristic 23rd-century zone full of aliens and science fiction rides.

What has the process been?

Bosses at London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) had originally considered Olympic Games legacy sites and three locations north of the Thames in Essex, before they settled on the attraction in north Kent.

In May 2014, the government confirmed the London Resort as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP).

This means developers can bypass local planning regulations and seek consent direct from the Secretary of State.

But to win approval, theme park bosses must first prove the bid’s feasibility to The Planning Inspectorate - the government’s independent planning arm.

After many years of public consultation an application was formally accepted for review in January this year.

The tourist attraction has currently had its opening date delayed four times.

Who is backing the London Resort?

Gravesham council has recently confirmed its support for the London Resort plans.

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate the council said it would be supportive of a full hearing taking place later this year, alluding to the potential economic benefits the project could bring to "an area that desperately needs jobs".

The authority said its backing of the project is conditional on progress being made on key concerns such as transport.

Councillor John Burden, Leader of Gravesham council, said: "While we are sympathetic to the concerns delays to the planning process are causing for businesses and landowners on the peninsula, we are also very conscious of the potential economic benefits this project could bring to an area that desperately needs job creation."

The London Resort project had also originally struck a deal with Hollywood film studios Paramount Pictures, with the attraction named London Paramount.

However, in 2017 the Hollywood studio revealed it would no longer lend its name to the attraction after the resort’s developers and the studio were left unable to agree terms on some of the rights to major films, including the image rights for some of their top stars.

Since then Paramount has come back on board under a new agreement - giving rights for their content to become the theme of rides.

Who has pulled out of the resort?

Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations quietly walked away from the theme park.

Recently it was announced both BBC and ITV have pulled the plug on their involvement after increased scrutiny from environmental campaigners.

They had previously lent image rights which would have seen rides named after hit brands such as Thunderbirds and Sherlock Holmes.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, another previous backer, has also withdrawn his support.

The Tory minister said he had "run out of patience" amid ongoing concerns over transport, pressure on local businesses and a lack of engagement from LRCH.

"I’m not a tree hugging hippy but it would make no sense to concrete it over," he explained to KentOnline.

He said: "At the moment we have an environmental habitat that exists there that is actually really vital to the local area and for the local wildlife.

“Initially, the idea of a theme park was a good one, I supported I thought actually this could bring jobs to the area.”

"But it’s become increasingly clear however that over the last ten years jobs have actually been lost as a consequence of the theme park proposals because the businesses that exist on the Peninsula now are unable to plan for the future and that has held them back and cost jobs,” he added.

Will the theme park be built?

Theme park bosses have vowed the park will be built.

The park’s CEO, PY Gerbeau, said: "To all the naysayers and doom-mongers, the London Resort is going ahead, as planned."

Speaking in October last year, he said: "We will be one of the only operationally carbon neutral parks in the world.

“And with our investment in sustainability and the environment, we will be a beacon of what can be achieved when the environment, commerce and entertainment flourish together, hand in hand.”

What will happen now?

The six-month inquiry to determine the application was due to start last September but was pushed back to this April.

Site visits have been carried out in the last few weeks and a virtual meeting will take place tomorrow (29 March) to consider "draft proposals" for examination,

It will then be decided whether or not examination will go ahead there and then, or a deferred timescale.

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