Luxury hotel rooms are still being sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds at a protected wildlife site earmarked for a multibillion-pound theme park project, despite plans being shelved.
Planned to be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula, the London Resort is touted as one of the ‘world’s most sustainable leisure and entertainment destinations’ and, if approved, will feature dinosaur-themed rides as well as a water park, cinema, theater and shopping center.
The developers behind the £2.5billion scheme want to accommodate overseas visitor stays and have already struck a deal with Radisson Hotels to build a 430-room upscale suite at the 535-acre resort.
Rooms can still be purchased inside the 4-star resort overlooking the River Thames which includes a bar and restaurant, spa and pool, and ample meeting and event space.
And although you can only use the room for two weeks a year, it will set you back £370,000 in return for what a recent online promotional video claims to be a ‘minimum guaranteed return of 8% over the first three years’.
There is only one problem for potential investors – not a speck of earth has moved on the site since plans were mooted in 2012 and the most recent plan for the park was laid down. side.
When first announced, it was hoped that the complex would be partially operational by 2019.
The project continues to face numerous delays due to planning hurdles related to transportation and environmental issues, including the site’s new status as a natural refuge and the emergence of a rare species of jumping spider.
Despite this, resort bosses still believe they can turn this “Disneyland dream” into reality and have pledged to submit a revised bid by the end of the year.
Earlier this year, the developers entered into a partnership with PwC, one of the big four accounting firms, to “bring their global experience in smart place technologies” to achieve the company’s “ambitious environmental and social goals”. station.
Although details of what it will be involved in have not been revealed, it could see the implementation of systems to monitor crowd density to avoid build-ups and high-tech applications to help improve the ‘client experience.
Meanwhile, hotel rooms are still being offered for sale at the site which has been officially designated as an infrastructure project of national significance by the government.
A London Resort spokesperson has since confirmed that an agreement is “still in place” with Radisson for the delivery of the suites.
But some believe the station’s time may well be up unless it can address key concerns.
Richard Scase, a professor at the University of Kent who specializes in economic trends, said: “The market for large leisure projects of this type may be gone.
“All of this is surrounded by uncertainties, from local businesses to transportation.
“These issues prevent investors and funders from engaging because they don’t know if they’ll get their money back.”
He says numerous delays and the recent withdrawal of demand will have done little to erase the “seeds of doubt” in investors’ minds.
“My hunch is that if this were to happen, it would have happened by now,” he said.
Professor Scase is quick to add that his assumptions are entirely based on the plans that have been made public to date, but believes the station’s chances were probably “50/50” from the start given the proposed size and scale.
The economic forecaster added that major leisure projects are always “high risk” in any economic climate.
“What might have been considered attractive 10 years ago may not be so anymore,” he said. “Where will the business come from? It will necessarily be the M25 but which is already overloaded.
“The infrastructure that already exists is outdated and inadequate.”
Until recently, the studio arms of the BBC and ITV had lent image rights which would have seen rides named after hit brands such as Thunderbirds and Sherlock Holmes.
But the two have now ended their involvement.
A view via Google Earth of where the London Resort would be built
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson also recently withdrew his support, saying he had “run out of patience” amid continued concerns and lack of commitment from London Resort Company Holdings.
Speaking last month, Mr Johnson said: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the end of the project.
Station bosses have since gone back to the drawing board but remain confident in their prospects for delivering the park.
London Resort’s general manager, PY Gerbeau, said he will move forward “despite naysayers and pessimists”.
Explaining the reasons for last month’s withdrawal, he said: ‘In the best interests of the London Resort, we are withdrawing the current application due to Tilbury’s classification as a freeport which means revisions are required to move Tilbury Ferry Terminal. to the Greys.
“These changes are considered material and as such require withdrawal and resubmission…”
The French contractor added: “This issue, combined with Natural England’s decision to designate a contaminated site as an SSSI, has had an impact on the project.
“We have in turn acquired significant land holdings as part of our mitigation strategy combined with our commitment to spend £150m on environmental improvements on the peninsula. These changes are seen as significant and, as such, require withdrawal and resubmission.”
If approved, the complex will eventually include two parks. The first is expected to open in 2025 and the second by 2030. It is expected that around 70% of the attractions will be covered.
It plans to create 6,000 jobs during its construction and be responsible for 48,000 jobs – directly or indirectly, by 2039.
Radisson Hotels has been approached for comment.