Announcement after announcement, delay after delay – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the London Paramount project was nothing more than a pipe dream.
The consortium behind the project, London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), first announced its plans in 2012.
At that time, it said that the London Paramount would be finished and open in 2018.
Since then, subsequent press releases have been footnoted with planned opening dates that have been successively later.
In fairness, the initial 2012 announcement did state that planners were “at the start of a long journey”.
The latest announcement, which came last week, said that LRCH planned to have the park open to the public in 2022.
Merlin Entertainments criticism
One company that hopes the project never happens is Merlin Entertainments, with three-quarters of its UK theme parks located next to London.
At an event in 2015, Merlin’s chief executive Nick Varney was highly critical of the Paramount project, adding that he didn’t think it would ever happen.
But his criticism appeared more thinly-veiled hope – rather than expectation – that the project would never get off the ground.
With all the delays, some of Varney’s criticism was justified, but it is beyond doubt that if built, London Paramount would present serious and dangerous competition to Merlin’s interests in the South East.
Nick Varney said that he didn’t think the project would happen
‘Britain open for business’
Since the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) in June last year, the British government has been desperate to demonstrate that the country is ‘open for business’ to the wider world.
Investors will also be encouraged by the fact that since the EU referendum, the pound’s value has plummeted.
While there has currently been little evidence to support a positive effect, there is widespread belief that a weaker pound encourages more Britons to holiday at home, while also enticing more foreign tourists to come to the UK and get more for their money.
Commercial financing of London Paramount has been one of the biggest challenges of the past five years, but this now appears to have finally been secured.
It is therefore a safe bet that the government, who have the ultimate say on the proposal, will give the green light to the resort’s construction.
With local people largely in approval of the project, in the hope that local employment will be boosted, it’s hard to imagine circumstances in which the park will now not be built.
Although maybe there will be one more pushing back of the opening date.