London Entertainment Resort: All Discussion

Jb85

TS Member
If they move sites - I think somewhere near Reading would be a good shout. Close to London still so easily accessible.

bit let’s be honest. This I going to fail and will probably come out as some way for some rich guy to dump a few million to avoid tax, or launder money into this country
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
On the topic of sites, I did actually find an interesting graphic within a post I made earlier in the topic: https://towersstreet.com/talk/threa...resort-all-discussion.962/page-59#post-295933

If you don’t want to go directly to the post, they evaluated 11 different areas based on 7 different categories, which were:
  • Land availability
  • Land use
  • Proximity to London
  • Transportation & accessibility
  • Environmental constraints
  • Planning constraints
  • Regeneration & economic benefit
Each category was evaluated on an RAG (red, amber, green) scale, and each site had an overall RAG evaluation too. The 11 sites they evaluated were:
  • North Northamptonshire
  • Marston Vale
  • Luton/Dunstable
  • M25 North corridor
  • M11 corridor
  • Great Leighs racecourse
  • Southend/Canvey Island
  • Cliffe, North Kent
  • Swanscombe Peninsula (the site chosen)
  • Ashford, Kent
  • Olympic Park legacy sites
Of those, Swanscombe Peninsula compared very favourably to the others, with only land availability and transport & accessibility even coming in at amber, and the overall assessment coming in at green (all the others were red, with many categories coming in at either amber or red).

Interestingly, environmental constraints and planning constraints were both rated green for the Swanscombe Peninsula… did the London Resort developers not know what they were getting into prior to picking the site? Could the environmental issues have been unearthed while they were planning the resort to fit the site?
 

Ted

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Kondaa
On the topic of sites, I did actually find an interesting graphic within a post I made earlier in the topic: https://towersstreet.com/talk/threa...resort-all-discussion.962/page-59#post-295933

If you don’t want to go directly to the post, they evaluated 11 different areas based on 7 different categories, which were:
  • Land availability
  • Land use
  • Proximity to London
  • Transportation & accessibility
  • Environmental constraints
  • Planning constraints
  • Regeneration & economic benefit
Each category was evaluated on an RAG (red, amber, green) scale, and each site had an overall RAG evaluation too. The 11 sites they evaluated were:
  • North Northamptonshire
  • Marston Vale
  • Luton/Dunstable
  • M25 North corridor
  • M11 corridor
  • Great Leighs racecourse
  • Southend/Canvey Island
  • Cliffe, North Kent
  • Swanscombe Peninsula (the site chosen)
  • Ashford, Kent
  • Olympic Park legacy sites
Of those, Swanscombe Peninsula compared very favourably to the others, with only land availability and transport & accessibility even coming in at amber, and the overall assessment coming in at green (all the others were red, with many categories coming in at either amber or red).

Interestingly, environmental constraints and planning constraints were both rated green for the Swanscombe Peninsula… did the London Resort developers not know what they were getting into prior to picking the site? Could the environmental issues have been unearthed while they were planning the resort to fit the site?

I'm somewhat shocked that there's not a site even considered West of London unless they wanted to not be in close proximity to places like Thorpe or Legoland

I've said it before but building it around the Birmingham area would have been a much better option thanks to the accessibility for a lot of the country and its central location. I don't think building it near the largest city would guarantee huge success (*cough* Disneyland Paris *cough*), most major theme parks in Europe are not actually located near capitals/large cities and it also applies to the US and it's states.
 

Thameslink Rail

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
I'm somewhat shocked that there's not a site even considered West of London unless they wanted to not be in close proximity to places like Thorpe or Legoland

I've said it before but building it around the Birmingham area would have been a much better option thanks to the accessibility for a lot of the country and its central location. I don't think building it near the largest city would guarantee huge success (*cough* Disneyland Paris *cough*), most major theme parks in Europe are not actually located near capitals/large cities and it also applies to the US and it's states.
Yeah, even Europa which in normal circumstances can get over 50,000 people on busy days is a 27 minute drive from the nearest city (Freiburg pop. 230,000) and a 108 minute drive to the state capital (Stuttgart pop. 630,000).
 

WillPS

TS Member
On the topic of sites, I did actually find an interesting graphic within a post I made earlier in the topic: https://towersstreet.com/talk/threa...resort-all-discussion.962/page-59#post-295933

If you don’t want to go directly to the post, they evaluated 11 different areas based on 7 different categories, which were:
  • Land availability
  • Land use
  • Proximity to London
  • Transportation & accessibility
  • Environmental constraints
  • Planning constraints
  • Regeneration & economic benefit
Each category was evaluated on an RAG (red, amber, green) scale, and each site had an overall RAG evaluation too. The 11 sites they evaluated were:
  • North Northamptonshire
  • Marston Vale
  • Luton/Dunstable
  • M25 North corridor
  • M11 corridor
  • Great Leighs racecourse
  • Southend/Canvey Island
  • Cliffe, North Kent
  • Swanscombe Peninsula (the site chosen)
  • Ashford, Kent
  • Olympic Park legacy sites
Of those, Swanscombe Peninsula compared very favourably to the others, with only land availability and transport & accessibility even coming in at amber, and the overall assessment coming in at green (all the others were red, with many categories coming in at either amber or red).

Interestingly, environmental constraints and planning constraints were both rated green for the Swanscombe Peninsula… did the London Resort developers not know what they were getting into prior to picking the site? Could the environmental issues have been unearthed while they were planning the resort to fit the site?
Call me a cynic, but I would suggest that evaluation was an example of working backwards to justify a site being chosen.

The most likely explanation to me has always been that the project's actual intention is to get permission to build on the protected land. The resort stuff is just a concoction.

I have my doubt over whether the UK market is ripe for a leisure attraction on this sort of scale, but I'm quite certain if it were to happen it'd have to be 'in range' for more of the domestic population.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Call me a cynic, but I would suggest that evaluation was an example of working backwards to justify a site being chosen.

The most likely explanation to me has always been that the project's actual intention is to get permission to build on the protected land. The resort stuff is just a concoction.

I have my doubt over whether the UK market is ripe for a leisure attraction on this sort of scale, but I'm quite certain if it were to happen it'd have to be 'in range' for more of the domestic population.
Personally, I think what the UK really needs instead of an oversized resort park is a proper indoor theme park, preferably highly themed. Would suit our unpredictable weather much better.
 

Funcone

TS Member
Was Metroland actually unsuccessful? Or was it more that it closed at the height of the retail bubble before online shopping started driving brick and mortar retailers out of business? There’s a difference between saying it didn’t make money, and saying it didn’t make as much money as retail at the time.

I think there is potential for an indoor park, but they’re difficult to do well. It’s relatively easy to stick some rides inside a big warehouse, but to have something that actually has a decent atmosphere is hard to pull off. To be fair though, these days you can do some cool light effects with LEDs and projection mapping, and there are quite a few indoor theme parks you could learn from.

In terms of indoor areas with a good atmosphere, I think the Minimoy’s Kingdom at Europa Park feels quite nice, as does holiday indoors at Holiday Park. But I’ve been in plenty of indoor areas that just feel like a big warehouse or a shopping centre.

There are a lot of factors that affect an indoor area. I heard a talk from Michael Mack about designing Rulantica. He said they noticed that a lot of indoor water parks are on one level. To make it feel more like you’re outside the paths are often sloping up and down. I think that makes quite a difference. You also need to think about the lighting sources. A lot of older indoor areas have a lighting rig on the roof with spotlights pointing down. That can look quite naff. Sound is also important. If you have lots of hard surfaces it can get very noisy, a bit like a lot of swimming pools. I think it is possible to have an indoor area with a good atmosphere, but it isn’t cheap. Then again, the London Resort isn’t cheap either.

Aside from the difficulties around creating a decent atmosphere, you also need to be able to add new attractions. There have been a few indoor parks that started off well, but then went stale.

To be fair to the London Resort they have said a lot of the attractions will be undercover, which is sensible. But there are so many issues around the project, I’m not entirely optimistic.
 

WillPS

TS Member
Metroland closed to make way for an Odeon Cinema, not shops.
EDIT: although in fairness that Odeon was moved from another part of the centre which did indeed become shops...

I think it's fair to say the place wasn't a roaring success, hence the lack of any real changes throughout its lifetime (despite several relaunches). That's not to say it was a failure, just not exactly a great example for would-be theme park investors.
 

Funcone

TS Member
I agree that Metroland wouldn’t excite most investors. That’s probably true for most of the UK theme park industry at the moment. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes. Presumably their contract allowed them to get evicted at that point, and once it got close to the end of their contract there wasn’t a great incentive to add new attractions. But finding it difficult to add new rides does seem to be a common problem for indoor parks, particularly if they’re surrounded by other developments like a shopping centre, giving them a fixed footprint.

There are probably ways to learn from that. The Lego Discovery Centres have 4D cinemas, which gives them an easy way to add a ‘new’ attraction. I don’t think Metroland had a dark ride, which could have been something easier to update. To an extent indoor water parks can have the same problem. If you’re not careful it’s the law of diminishing returns where people come once, but it’s hard to keep them coming back. The two big problems with an indoor theme park are creating the right atmosphere and keeping it updated.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
I agree that Metroland wouldn’t excite most investors. That’s probably true for most of the UK theme park industry at the moment. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes. Presumably their contract allowed them to get evicted at that point, and once it got close to the end of their contract there wasn’t a great incentive to add new attractions. But finding it difficult to add new rides does seem to be a common problem for indoor parks, particularly if they’re surrounded by other developments like a shopping centre, giving them a fixed footprint.

There are probably ways to learn from that. The Lego Discovery Centres have 4D cinemas, which gives them an easy way to add a ‘new’ attraction. I don’t think Metroland had a dark ride, which could have been something easier to update. To an extent indoor water parks can have the same problem. If you’re not careful it’s the law of diminishing returns where people come once, but it’s hard to keep them coming back. The two big problems with an indoor theme park are creating the right atmosphere and keeping it updated.
Yeah expansion space is one of the main issues with indoor theme parks. They usually have to remove existing attractions in order to fit new ones in, unless they have sufficient space (and funds) to extend the building.
 

Craig

TS Administrator
Without going too off topic in terms of London Resort, Metroland’s problems were twofold. Long term, it suffered from a complete lack of modernisation over the years it existed. Annoyingly, the owners actually started to turn the place around in the final years and people were visiting thanks to better ticket pricing. The place was relatively busy, but repeat visits were hard to justify as nothing was being added.

Secondly in the later years, the shopping centre had plans to have a one stop shop for leisure in the yellow quadrant where Metroland was. The existing cinema in the blue quadrant wasn’t fit for purpose and Odeon were wanting IMAX/large format screens. The surrounding Clockworks food court was dark, dingy and dated. In hindsight, if it were now I dare say Metroland would’ve survived in some shape or form as the need for shopping centres to diversify away from solely shopping (and relatively boring cinemas) is greater than ever.

I guess the reason we’ve not really had an indoor park is the same reason we haven’t really had new outdoor parks. A brand new park is expensive enough as it is. Factoring in a building over the top of it too with all the issues that entails with maintenance and new rides over time is even more difficult. I always thought the Millennium Dome missed a trick by not planning something permanent in there instead of the occasional seasonal fairground!

Midways are the more sensible option for indoor attractions in terms of cost. We already see that with bowling, aquariums, arcades, climbing walls and crazy golf in shopping centres. Even London Resort had recognised that, with their mooted eSports arena as well as some other attractions as pay to play before you actually had guests entering the theme park itself.
 

tayspru

TS Member
I still truly think that the investors should have a real think about the future of the project and look north. With Manchester’s Therme project set to break ground next year, that area could become a real destination if a park was built on some of the remaining land surrounding the Trafford Centre complex
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
The most likely explanation to me has always been that the project's actual intention is to get permission to build on the protected land. The resort stuff is just a concoction.

I have my doubt over whether the UK market is ripe for a leisure attraction on this sort of scale, but I'm quite certain if it were to happen it'd have to be 'in range' for more of the domestic population.

I have to be careful not to make false claims here, for the record I am not accusing anyone of doing this. But -

It could make business sense to get some artists to paint some pretty pictures of an imaginary resort that you have no intention of ever building just so that you can gain favour for planning permission to build a theme park. Then a sudden convenient excuse comes along not to build it (lack of investors, economic circumstances, Brexit, Covid etc) and the whole lot is flogged on to Persimmon for 1000's of luxury flats. After all, if you get planning for a theme park, housing won't be rejected. The original "developers" make a fortune, the house builders get a development opportunity by the back door on prime land, rich people get a shoe box with a sea view.

It seems to me that if anyone was that serious about developing a world class resort, an operator like Merlin (who seem to view their RTP's as a weight around their necks) would sell Towers or Thorpe in a heartbeat to an investor with a wheelbarrow full of cash.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
Camelot had planning for a theme park.
The council have constantly refused the current landowners permission to build houses on the site for about a decade.
That's because it's a new application. The site is derelict. If planning for something is granted but not ever built, you can sell the land at premium with the granted application until it expires. It's very hard for authorities to decline another application when it's no more environmentally invasive than the last one. For instance, if permission was granted for a theme park, it would be very hard to find an argument against downgrading it to housing.

Property developers do this all the time. They buy derelict or brownfield sites, promise things like business parks and shopping precincts which local councils and sometimes even central government wave on through for job creation and other regional economic benefits. The whole thing falls through and the landowner now has a piece of land with a higher price tag because it has planning attached and the new developer puts in an alternation to the permission and it's hard to argue against.
 
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