THE London Resort could lift some of the most deprived parts of the UK – including in Essex – of poverty, its developers have said.
Global theme parks say that the Kent resort will be a catalyst for job creation and regeneration of the area – including deprived parts of Essex such as Thurrock.
The London Resort will include a massive theme park – plus space for a second theme park planned to open after the first – as well as a hotel complex, convention centre and a water park.
Annual attendance is expected to top 12.5 million annually – placing it in one of the top 20 global theme parks and around five times the size of anything that exists in the UK.
The resort will be one of the largest construction projects across Europe.
Ellie Evans, a senior partner at Volterra – which supported the application by providing several impact assessments relating to socio-economics and health – told the South East Local Partnership that the project is expected to lift employment and skills – particularly for women, ethnic minorities and young people where in those groups unemployment is 50 to 100 times higher than average.
The small areas within Dartford, Gravesham and Thurrock have some of the worst levels of employment skills and training.
Ms Evans said the project is aiming to create local employment opportunities, providing career paths and encourage diversity and inclusion.
She said: “So construction, hospitality, leisure and tourism are all obvious areas where we will be delivering significant job opportunities.
“Also in terms of the increasing vocational opportunities, we need to work collaboratively with all of the local education institutions and we want to create career paths – not just jobs to try and increase that productivity and retain people within the workforce.”
London Resort is now in a detailed planning examination period with an expected decision in 2022 and an opening of the first phase in 2024, followed by a second in 2029.
Those behind the plans claim it will be one of the largest and most immersive experience centres anywhere in the world with two theme parks featuring themed rides and attractions, entertainment venues, retail and dining.
There will be four hotels with up to 3,550 rooms – including one water park hotel – as well as retail, dining and entertainment outside the park gates, conference and convention centre and an eSports Centre.
There will also be up to 500 homes for London Resort workers.
New transport links include a new access road between the A2 Ebbsfleet junction and the London Resort and a Park and Glide facility at Tilbury. There will also be river transport infrastructure on both sides of the Thames, including a floating jetty and ferry terminals.
The construction phase will support an estimated 23,000 jobs.
Once open, the intention is that the resort will be one of the largest single site employers in the whole of the UK. Starting in 2024 there will be 8,000 jobs on site – doubling to over 17,000 at maturity in 2038.
Other important factors are to provide adequate apprenticeships and to encourage retention.
Ms Evans added: “One example of what we’ve been looking into is identifying and responding to skills gaps within hospitality.
“A couple of the key issues here are a poor perception of the industry which leads to people coming and leaving and not progressing in the industry and high staff turnover.”