Forget Disneyland Paris. Now it's Paramount World … Swanscombe

Developers plan £2bn Hollywood-inspired resort on former industrial site in Kent

The Swanscombe peninsula in Kent, where 150mph trains tear past cows munching on alkaline grass in contaminated soil, in the shadow of giant cranes and towers of shipping containers overlooking the Thames estuary, does not scream "Hollywood".

But if detailed and already rather advanced plans are approved, it will be here – next to Ebbsfleet International railway station – that Britain's first branded leisure resort will open at a cost of about £2bn in 2018.

A handful of parties, including the French cement manufacturer Lafarge, which owns the 872-acre site, have come together to form London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH).

The consortium has a licence from one of Hollywood's leading film studios, Paramount Pictures, to open a theme park and branded with Paramount movies such as Braveheart, Titanic or whatever hits it produces between now and 2018.

The resort, which could be reached from central London in just 17 minutes by high-speed rail link, would include Europe's largest indoor water park and biggest performing arts centre, a giant roller coaster, music venues, cinemas, hotels and restaurants. It would also create 27,000 jobs.

"This is not just another of the crazy schemes you see in the leisure industry – not just two days work by an artist," said Tony Sefton, the project leader for LRCH. "We have spent three years on this. We have every type of report, analysis and design you could imagine, we have long-term licence from Paramount, the first in the UK."

The next stage is to secure planning consent. "We are working very closely with local and regional authorities, and they are keen to get this approved," Mr Sefton said. He admitted that securing the £2bn needed to build the park would be a challenge but said the past three months had provided an incredible boost. "We are riding on the back of the Olympics and Paralympics," he added. "A lot of people saw that and now they want to invest in the UK."

Visitors to the site today might find reminders of the Olympics. A little wedge of flat, green countryside, poking into the Thames but surrounded by the ugly reality of heavy industry, seems eerily similar to Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony at London 2012.

Some locals are already enthusiastic about the park. "It would bring enormous benefits," said Morris Chater, 58, a cleaner at Ebbsfleet, who lives near the proposed site. Pointing towards a Eurostar train bound for Paris, he added: "You might have people from over there coming here, rather than people from here going over there. And this area needs jobs as well."

Local councillors have called the proposal a "tremendous economic growth opportunity for the region". But the plans are expected to meet opposition from environmentalists because of the potential damage to wildlife in the area.

Movie magic: the proposals

The resort would feature roller coasters, thrill rides and a giant water park, but its planners say a "wide audience" is important and it would need to be in action "almost 24 hours a day".

There would be areas for young mothers with children, and play areas open early in the morning, as well as shows and performances. The theatres would open in the evenings and the clubs and bars later on.

The consortium's licensing deal with Paramount Pictures means that Paramount movies would feature heavily and be crucial to the park's long-term success. Titanic, Braveheart, the Transformers series and the remake of The Italian Job were all made by the US studio. The release of new Paramount blockbusters will allow the resort to permanently re-brand and reinvent itself – a practice already perfected by Disney and Universal Studios theme parks.

A similar resort is due to open Spain in 2015. The Paramount park in Murcia will feature a Titanic Experience and rides based on Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and War Of The Worlds.

News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing