Paramount Park bosses insist Chinese firm committed to £100m investment despite ‘shell company’ claims
PUBLISHED: 14:14 06 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:14 06 February 2017
A planning application for the ambitious project on the Swanscombe peninsula is expected to be submitted this year
Bosses behind the proposed multi-billion pound Paramount Park entertainment resort in Kent insist they will still receive investment from a Chinese firm exposed as a “shell company” over the weekend.
Reports in the Sunday Times revealed Chinese businessman Peter Zhang and his investment outfit SinoFortone, who claimed to have committed billions of pounds to major UK projects, including the ambitious plans for the Swanscombe peninsula, had only successfully delivered on one deal so far - a pub.
The firm was dismissed in the press as a shell company - a non-trading business used as a vehicle for various financial manoeuvres or kept dormant for future use in some other capacity.
The development - which proposes to include a theme park, live music venues, cinemas, restaurants and hotels - is set to cost a whopping £3.2 billion and could create around 27,000 jobs.
It was announced at the end of 2015 that the project had attracted an initial £100m in investment from SinoFortone, which bosses said at the time demonstrated what a “unique economic and regenerative opportunity” the park represented, in that it was attracting investors from across the globe.
Claims an investment deal fell apart when China’s state export credit agency refused to provide a loan to SinoFortone due to the lack of Chinese engineers and technology involved in the planning process for the theme park were emphatically quashed by project bosses.
Kent News understands not a penny of the £100m was expected up front, and that SinoFortone will deliver on its pledge following the submission of a planning application later this year - a process which has suffered a series of delays in recent years.
LRCH said last year the specific challenge in relation to a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) is that the process for submitting a planning application, known as a development consent order, is “heavily front-loaded”.
As a result, nearly all of the detail must be assembled prior to submission rather than amassed or worked on as the scheme is considered.
It is understood that significant developments will be announced within the next month.
Andy Martin, on behalf of LRCH, said: “SinoFortone publicly announced their intention to invest in October 2015 and that commitment is unchanged.
“We’re still working hard behind the scenes, developing our business plan and preparing our planning application for submission later this year.
“It’s no secret that this has taken longer than we would have liked, but this is a huge project and we’re determined to get it right.
“We’ll be sharing more news soon and look forward to updating everyone on the project.”