Paramount theme park still on track one year after Swanscombe announcement
PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 October 2013
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It's been little more than a year since plans for a £2billion Paramount theme park were unexpectedly unveiled in Swanscombe.
Updates on the project have been few and far between in the past 12 months, with the exception of news that the movie giant’s plan may be scuppered by a rare breed of jumping spider found on the proposed 872-acre brownfield site.
The man behind the project, Tony Sefton, managing director of Vision XS, visited the newly opened Ebbsfleet Academy, in Southfleet Road, late last month to speak to pupils about the project.
An emphasis on the local community was stressed by Tony, who says the plans could put “pride” back into Swanscombe.
He said: “As I talked to the pupils about jobs and a range of career prospects I could see the excitement in their eyes when they began to realise that the scheme could be a game-changer for them on a personal level, as well as putting the pride back in their local area.
“We intend to work closely with the school and recently held our first skills and training workshop to consider how we get ready for our planned opening.”
Leader of Dartford Council, Jeremy Kite, says the reason for a lack of updates could stem from the being leaked early last year, but says he remains “optimistic” the project will go ahead after a “very unusual year”.
He said: “It was rather a surprise to hear about the project so early because it was leaked and wasn’t due to be launched then - so it’s all happened very quickly.
“We always knew people would want to see work starting and be regularly updated. It’s important to maintain all the community involvement promised at the beginning. Local people have to be a key part of this, otherwise the park will sit as an uneasy neighbour.
“A lot is happening behind the scenes, and we are on track - but don’t expect to see anything too soon.”
A potential stumbling block for Paramount’s ambitious plans has been the government’s three proposed sites for a new Thames crossing, announced in July.
Option B, if selected, would see a new crossing connect the A1089, in Essex, with the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula, cutting through the site earmarked for a theme park twice the size of the Olympic park.
Cllr Kite made his feelings clear about the crossing in the summer, and says he now believes the government understand his viewpoint.
He added: “The bridge was probably the worst dilemma we have faced to date.
“I can’t speak for the government, but what I would say is I think they now have got the message and that route B would be a killer blow.”
Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council also opposed Option B, expressing their frustration that an option further towards the coast wasn’t presented.
Graham Blew, town clerk, said: “We had hoped a more radical option would become available, because further towards the port is where the traffic comes from.
“We are still very excited by this project, and it’s rare for school kids anywhere to be growing up with job opportunities on their doorstep.”
Another spanner destined for the works appears to be the proposal of a new power plant a stones throw from Paramount’s planned site.
Teal Energy want to build their plant in Manor Way, equipped with a 213 foot chimney and an estimated 108 HGV daily deliveries.
However, Cllr Kite believes this latest setback could actually be turned into a “big positive”.
“I know Paramount are talking to the power plant company now,” he explained. “The rewards at the end of the day are huge.”