London Entertainment Resort: All Discussion

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Merlin have sent a letter of concern over the planning process for the London Resort. Most people seem to agree this comes across as anti competition. In a way it does show how Merlin thinks The London Resort is now a credible threat and not just an investors wet dream.

Now it’s got Merlins official attention, I hope it does go ahead for the sake of competition. Merlin are going to have to start planning some new coasters if they’re want to draw people away from a brand new theme park. Small walkthrough attractions and rebrands aren’t going to cut it.


In fairness, it’s a genuine concern that Merlin is airing with the project; I think numerous other bodies, including BALPPA, have aired a similar concern. I don’t think Merlin is just defying their competition for the sake of it.
 

Craig

TS Administrator
I've seen a lot of in people go in on Merlin over this letter, but as much as I slate them over a myriad of other things I don't believe it to be anti competition.

The concerns basically boil down to a worry that London Resort are potentially evading proper scrutiny by submitting some documents after the period for representations has ended. As mentioned, the main document they are concerned about is one was assessing the current leisure market in the UK. As an existing operator, that's bound to make reference to Merlin's own operations in the UK. I don't think it's anti competition for Merlin (and remember BALPPA who represent the industry in the UK as a whole) to want themselves and others to have proper time to review and make representations based on the information put forward.

The term "anti competition" is to unlawfully suppress competition. That's a bold claim to make at the moment, as they are merely questioning that the correct processes and procedure are used. You could argue the reverse be true in that London Resort are being anti competitive by submitting such a document later to prevent valid concerns being raised.

Let's say I owned a takeaway and one of the same type was setting up next door. The planning documents were put through, and as annoyed as I am about it there's nothing in those documents that give me any cause for concern. The planning drags on as the building is listed, but the council allow for some time to allow for some further drawings to be submitted. Six months down the line they submit that info along with another document that has nothing to do with the listed building, but about the current takeaway market in the area. It's incorrectly saying I make a six figure sum of profit every year and there's a swell of surplus demand from customers in the area. The information is wrong, but I have no ability to argue against those claims as the period to do so has finished. That's a simplification, but that's what Merlin and BALPPA are getting at here.

Anti competition is not the same as a business wanting to protect their interests by ensuring everyone goes through the same planning process and procedure as they themselves would be subjected to. If something like London Resort got off the ground, it's right that all parties, be that Merlin, BALPPA members or the general public at large have all the information needed to assess the application at the correct time and have the necessary period to review and comment on it.
 

Stuntman707

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
I've seen a lot of in people go in on Merlin over this letter, but as much as I slate them over a myriad of other things I don't believe it to be anti competition.

The concerns basically boil down to a worry that London Resort are potentially evading proper scrutiny by submitting some documents after the period for representations has ended. As mentioned, the main document they are concerned about is one was assessing the current leisure market in the UK. As an existing operator, that's bound to make reference to Merlin's own operations in the UK. I don't think it's anti competition for Merlin (and remember BALPPA who represent the industry in the UK as a whole) to want themselves and others to have proper time to review and make representations based on the information put forward.

The term "anti competition" is to unlawfully suppress competition. That's a bold claim to make at the moment, as they are merely questioning that the correct processes and procedure are used. You could argue the reverse be true in that London Resort are being anti competitive by submitting such a document later to prevent valid concerns being raised.

Let's say I owned a takeaway and one of the same type was setting up next door. The planning documents were put through, and as annoyed as I am about it there's nothing in those documents that give me any cause for concern. The planning drags on as the building is listed, but the council allow for some time to allow for some further drawings to be submitted. Six months down the line they submit that info along with another document that has nothing to do with the listed building, but about the current takeaway market in the area. It's incorrectly saying I make a six figure sum of profit every year and there's a swell of surplus demand from customers in the area. The information is wrong, but I have no ability to argue against those claims as the period to do so has finished. That's a simplification, but that's what Merlin and BALPPA are getting at here.

Anti competition is not the same as a business wanting to protect their interests by ensuring everyone goes through the same planning process and procedure as they themselves would be subjected to. If something like London Resort got off the ground, it's right that all parties, be that Merlin, BALPPA members or the general public at large have all the information needed to assess the application at the correct time and have the necessary period to review and comment on it.

I understand your point, but surely it is the planning inspectorates job to ensure the application process is done properly and fairly. Not the interested parties having to moan to the inspectorate that they’re not doing it properly.
 

Craig

TS Administrator
I understand your point, but surely it is the planning inspectorates job to ensure the application process is done properly and fairly. Not the interested parties having to moan to the inspectorate that they’re not doing it properly.

It is their job, but planning is a complex process, and both individuals and businesses have a right to raise their concerns if they believe the process isn't being followed correctly. As it stands, Merlin and BALPPA are not "moaning" but have simply raised what they believe are valid concerns, in the same way that others have as this application has progressed. It's now down to the Planning Inspectorate to review it and decide accordingly - it's not simply that Merlin can say "no" and the whole thing not go ahead. From a personal point of view, I do think what they have raised is very valid. As we're all very aware, theme parks in the UK have so many hoops to jump through for planning applications. It already must be pretty galling to have London Resort flagged as a Nationally Significant "Infrastructure" Project, which as I've mentioned in this topic in the past is a bit of a push for a project of this type. I don't blame any of them for wanting to have a level playing field and ensure everyone goes through the same level of scrutiny.

Ultimately, this is the planning system working - it's slow and cumbersome at times, but for a project of this size it's vital that the process is correctly followed, and any concerns no matter how "petty" some may think they may be are evaluated and responded to.
 

OilyWater

TS Member
This is just totally normal process for a major development like this which theme park fans on Twitter seem to not realise cos 'Merlin bad'

To be honest I dont know why it was even reported by theme park fansites, it's very boring and procedural. It means nothing to fans anyway, it doesnt really indicate one thing or another about the park
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
To be honest I dont know why it was even reported by theme park fansites, it's very boring and procedural. It means nothing to fans anyway, it doesnt really indicate one thing or another about the park
Never underestimate this community's ability to talk about nothing.

It does indicate one very obvious thing, chiefly that there is still resource being put into this project, whether that be time, money or both.

We can debate as to whether it will happen or not (see previous 82 pages), but it's worth remembering any multi-billion pound project takes time, often lots of it.
 

Funcone

TS Member
To be fair, there isn't a lot happening in the UK theme park scene at the moment. It's like we're trapped in the world's longest closed season. And anything that doesn't involve Brexit or Coronavirus makes a change of conversation. And let's be honest, when people choose to read the London Resort thread, what are they expecting? It's not like people are clicking on this thread expecting to see photos of the Vekoma flying coaster being built, and then getting disappointed by a discussion into planning procedures.
 

Tim

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Air / Blue Fire
To be fair, there isn't a lot happening in the UK theme park scene at the moment...
Actually I'd say there's a lot of really interesting things happening in the UK Theme Park scene that could be generating a lot of discussion:

- We appear to be reaching the end of a global pandemic that could have forever changed the way parks operate. "What if 2020 happens again" could be a real planning concern with new developments in the future.

- Paultons have opened a very well themed land that's refreshingly different to what other UK parks are doing.

- Drayton Manor seem to be making a miraculous revival. Also does the reopening of their rapids signify that the Merlin water rides will finally be able to turn the water effects back on again?

- In more negative news LWV and Flamingo Land both seem to have been hit bad, but the reasons for it are worth discussing.

- Most importantly (because I feel like this has gone under the radar) Legoland appear to have had some serious investment this year. Not only have they added a major new ride and land (with some really impressive new lego models) but they're replaced old models all over the park and had some major infrastructure work. This is a really positive sign that Merlins new investors are prepared to put in the money when it's needed.
We can debate how much this will extend to the non-Lego branded attractions but I'm cautiously optimistic that if the changes at Legoland are received positively they'll want to see similar results at the other parks.

So there's a lot going on at the moment that's really interesting to talk about.

But back on topic...

The irony is my takeaway from Merlins message is the same I've heard enthusasts make countless times. This project has been cycling through the planning process over and over again, how our they allowed to do this?
Only difference is Merlin's found a legitimate point to hit them with.
 

OilyWater

TS Member
And let's be honest, when people choose to read the London Resort thread, what are they expecting?
I meant more the discussion on Twitter really, lots of people complaining about Merlin and needing to have an opinion on something not worth it, based on misunderstanding what this is
 

SuperMuscleMan

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Colossus
I believe it's a good thing Merlin have got involved. It means merlins lawyers are forgetting to add more yellow health and safety signs in random places and if it gets through the next stage we could see m£rlin actually getting some big investment investment in the parks.
 

AT86

TS Member
An update, which doesn’t say much - other than the delay will continue despite Merlin’s objection to the procedure.

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/dartford/news/amp/go-ahead-for-theme-park-planning-bid-after-rivals-challenge-249739/

Including a timeline of the many developments over the years.

7UznDFI.jpg
 

WillPS

TS Member
I mean it's a ridiculous timeline isn't it. Ignoring the financial improbability of the whole thing - looking at the site as it is now, 2 years is way beyond optimistic for how quickly you could get the site from what it is now to something simple like a housing estate or retail park - leave alone a bloody theme park.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I saw “by 2026” referenced somewhere else, so they might not necessarily be sticking firmly to the 2024 timeline.
 

Connor98

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Zadra
This whole project is just utter pie in the sky. 2024, 2026… it’s not happening. It’ll be 2034 or 2036 when it’s dragged out another 10 years. I feel sorry for the horse, it’s been flogged to death.
 

Poisson

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Giant Squid
Even reduced down to a simpler level, Wicker Man took about a year and a half and that's in a functioning theme park with all the services ready to be plumbed in, all the rest of the infrastructure there and it's just a simple woodie. Think of the army of contractors working around the clock you'd need to open a basic theme park with some hired in fair rides and a coaster in a similar time frame.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
They might be hiring similarly rapid contractors to the ones who built Zadra at Energylandia; it seemed as though one minute, that thing was a field, and the next, it was open!
 
Top