Kent’s ‘Disneyland’ on hold

Kent’s very own Disneyland-style resort, due to open in 2025, has withdrawn its plans due to changes at the Tilbury ferry terminal as well as environmental issues.

The £2.5bn park, on the Swanscombe Peninsula between Gravesend and Dartford, was planned  to be  the size of 136 Wembley stadiums. It would have included a medieval castle and lava waterfalls as part of a world class leisure and entertainment venue.

The resort’s plans have already seen teething problems, ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to one of their planned sites being designated a protected nature reserve 12 months ago.

Make no mistake we are still 100% committed to this amazing project

The company’s chief executive PY Gerbeau said in a statement: “In the best interests of the London Resort, we are withdrawing the current application as a result of the classification of Tilbury as a Freeport which has meant revisions are required in moving the ferry terminal from Tilbury to Grays. We are working closely and collaborating with Thurrock Council on that matter.

“This issue, combined with the decision by Natural England to designate a brownfield contaminated site as a SSSI has impacted the project. We in turn have 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 considered material and as such require withdrawal and resubmission.”

Plans will be resubmitted

Mr Gerbeau said the company had repeatedly petitioned for latitude, time extensions and understanding from the examining authority and the planning inspectorate.

“Their teams have been extremely supportive, but we recognise that the best route for the Project is through withdrawal and resubmission of a fresh DCO application within this calendar year,” he said.

“We will continue our engagement with the local community, statutory bodies, landowners and others to make sure we can reach as many agreements as possible before resubmission. Make no mistake we are still 100% committed to this amazing project and we will resubmit before the end of 2022 and look forward to delivering a world class entertainment resort – the UK deserves better and we will make it happen.”