Doctor Who, Sherlock and other BBC programmes will fly the flag for Britain’s entertainment industry in a £2bn Hollywood-style theme park and resort taking shape in north Kent.
London Resort Company Holdings, developers backed by Kuwaiti investors, announced a deal with the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, to exploit its top programmes and characters among the park’s rides and attractions.
They will take their place in a park across 45 hectares, to be called Paramount London, made up of rides and activities based on film, television and game themes. It is aiming for 15m visitors a year.
David Testa of LRCH said the resort “will combine the glamour of Hollywood with the best of British culture”.
The developer’s main partner is the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures, which gives the theme park access to films such as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and The Italian Job.
The developers have obtained the status of nationally significant infrastructure project for Paramount London, the first commercial project in the UK to do so. This enables it to bypass local council planning regulations and have its scheme considered by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.
The land to be developed sits on the Swanscombe peninsula near Dartford and Ebbsfleet international rail station. A planning application will be lodged next autumn.
Paramount London will take more than five years to build and promises to include Europe’s largest indoor water park, a 2,000-seater theatre, hotels providing 5,000 rooms and commercial space for creative industries.
Another attraction will be its interactive zones, with names such as Adventure Isle, Land of Legends, Cartoon Circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square and Port Paramount.
Paramount London resort aiming for 15m visitors a year
Stephen Davies of BBC Worldwide, said: “We’re always looking for opportunities to extend fans’ enjoyment of their favourite shows and the idea behind this resort is a really exciting way of celebrating the very special place the BBC has in British culture.”
LRCH is funded by Kuwaiti European Holding Company, owned by the al-Humaidi family, which has assets in real estates and hotels.
KEHC also owns Ebbsfleet United football club and has ambitions to invest more in UK football.
Theme parks are enjoying mixed success in Europe. Merlin Entertainments, the UK-listed operator best known for Legoland and Madame Tussauds, has increased sales from its UK theme parks over the autumn thanks in part to mild weather.
Less happy is Euro Disney whose Paris resort has suffered a fall in visitor numbers and hotel occupancy in the past two years and is in need of a €1bn bailout.