Merlin Entertainments challenges Resort plans

Merlin Entertainments

Merlin Entertainments has moved to challenge the consultation process over the proposed London Resort theme park in Kent.

Describing itself as an “interested party” in a letter of concern dated 28 May, Merlin said that additional details added at a later stage should mean that the consultation is rolled back.

The company said it was challenging the proposals on the basis of “fair, transparent and even-handed examination”.

Planners for the London Resort revealed last month that they plan to alter nearly half of the 460 documents submitted as part of the application.

They were granted a four-month delay in which to make revisions, which are largely as a result of environmental concerns raised by the proposals.

The British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA) has also echoed Merlin’s comments, saying that additional documents mean that the consultation should be reopened to allow interested parties to comment.

London Resort - artist impression
The London Resort was originally fronted by Paramount Pictures, but subsequently left the project

The BALPPA said it “wholeheartedly supports any growth in the our industry”, but that a “level playing field” between London Resort planners and affected parties should exist.

‘Multiple changes’

Merlin’s intervention is widely seen as a significant intervention, with the company largely dismissing the proposals up to now.

At an event in 2015, Merlin’s chief executive Nick Varney was highly critical of then Paramount-front London Resort project, adding that he didn’t think it would ever happen.

Merlin said that there had been “multiple changes” to application plans and other application documents, warranting a further assessment period.

The company said it had taken legal advice, and had concluded that a full consultation has not taken place.

Due to the scale of the proposals, the British government will ultimately decide whether or not to grant planning permission for the London Resort, superseding local authorities.

A decision is not expected before 2022.