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How Different Approaches to Transport are Shaping the Future of the London Resort Theme Park.

How Different Approaches to Transport are Shaping the Future of the London Resort Theme Park.

The London Resort Theme Park is a nationally significant infrastructure project located on the Swanscombe Peninsula, within Kent, which lies on the south bank of the River Thames, approximately 30 miles to the east of London.

The planning application for the park was submitted into December 2020 with a decision due to be made in early 2022. It is expected that construction will begin in 2022, following planning permission being consented, with the first phase of the project being open in 2024 and the final phase being complete in 2029 (by which time we hope COVID-19 will be a thing of the past).

I think that it is safe to say that one of the biggest concerns about the project is the impact that it will have on the local transport network. The Park is estimated to host up to 12.5million guests per year with a total of 6000 members of staff, but with currently only one way in and one way out of the site due to its geographical nature, how will the issues of transport be solved?

29920 London Resort Illustrative Masterplan web 1

The River Thames will play a vital role in the sustainability of the site. A ferry terminal is due to be constructed to the west of the site and will be served by a new fleet of Thames Clippers. This service will extend the existing services from Putney to Woolwich a further 20 miles east to the site. This new clipper service is designed to transport both staff and visitors from Central London and Tilbury Ferry Terminal, with the aim for this to account for up to 15% of all journeys to the site. A ‘Park & Glide’ service will operate from Tilbury to encourage visitors and staff living to the north of the site, i.e., from Essex, away from the use of the private car. Not only will the Thames transport people, but it is also anticipated to transport up to 90% of the construction materials to the site as well as post construction phase being the main route for the delivery of everyday goods. This heavily reduces the reliance on the local roads surrounding the site.

With this in mind, if the use of the Thames Clippers becomes a success for this major development, what is there to say that the use of River Thames will not become more dominant in our everyday lives? Why couldn’t a commuter service run along the river from places like Gravesend, Greenhithe or even Erith towards London? Not only would this ease the pressure on existing rail services, but it would also reduce congestion along the A2, the main arterial road from the south east into London. The opening of the theme park could become a gateway for the use of new transport connections, making not only the park more sustainable but the local area too.

I digress, existing transport infrastructure is also on the side of the success of the development. The site benefits from HS1, i.e., the service from St Pancras to Ebbsfleet International, which is a 17-minute journey. Ebbsfleet is also connected to the east by Faversham, Ashford and other seaside towns by HS1. In order to encourage staff and visitors to use this railway services, a free shuttle bus will be provided which will follow a dedicated route, from Ebbsfleet International to the site. It is anticipated that this mode of travel will make up 20-40% of all journeys to the site.

Finally, in terms of sustainable transport, the existing bus network within the area is also likely to account for up to 10% of all journeys into the site.

Whilst this article has discussed various different options of transport to the site, with an estimate of up to 65% of all journeys using sustainable modes of transport to access the site, the developer is not naïve in thinking that the number of car journeys will not have an impact on the local area. This considered, alterations to the local highway network, particularly at junctions along the A2, are in discussions with Highways England and the local authorities.

But I think that this subject can trigger some food for thought. Do all measures to ensure sustainable travel have to be hard measures? Can softer measures be just as effective in reducing the number of cars trips generated by the site?

Could a small discount on ticket entry could be applied to all of those who chose to travel by sustainable modes of travel? This could encourage more people to use sustainable modes of transport, including the existing services as well as any new initiatives. Could, upon proof, all those people who live within a 10-mile radius have their travel expenses discounted off of their entry fee if they have chosen to travel to the site using sustainable modes of travel? Not only would these individuals benefit from discounted entry, but they would also be contributing to a more sustainable development.  

Do you think that soft approaches to changing travel behaviour are just as beneficial as the implementation of physical measures?

By Emily Gardiner

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29920 London Resort Illustrative Masterplan web 1