Work is finally set to begin on a huge theme park intended to be a 'British Disneyland'.

Gigantic £3.5bn project the London Resort will break ground on the banks of the Thames near Dartford, Kent as soon as planning permission is finalised next year, developers said.

The 500-plus-acre site will be Europe's biggest new theme park since Disneyland Paris opened in 1992.

Hollywood studio Paramount was initially attached to the park, which was known from 2012 to 2017 as the London Paramount Entertainment Resort.

Other media groups thought attached include the BBC, ITV, the British Film Institute (BFI) and Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations.

BBC Worldwide planned to help develop Doctor Who, Sherlock and Top Gear rides, though their status is now unclear.

Aardman Animations and the BFI pulled out of the deal as delays mounted following Paramount's exit.

Since 2017 it has been known as the London Resort.

Organisers said 70% of attractions would be indoors, taking into account British weather outside summer.

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The epic park's first phase is due to open to the public in 2024, with a second park built sometime in 2029.

Conservation group Natural England designated much of the London Resort's prospective site to be a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest.

That means the London Resort will have a much harder time getting through its Development Consent Order (DCO) to kickstart construction.

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But the planners are bullish about their chances of success.

London Resort Company Holdings CEO Pierre-Yves (PY) Gerbeau recently told a business expo that the plans remain on track.

He told the Blooloop V-Expo: "To all the naysayers and doom-mongers, the London Resort is going ahead, as planned.

"It is a day to celebrate British innovation and technological wizardry.

"We will be one of the only operationally carbon neutral parks in the world.

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"And with our investment in sustainability and the environment, we will be beacon of what can be achieved when the environment, commerce and entertainment flourish together, hand in hand."

Mr Gerbeau is a former Vice-President of Park Operations and Attractions at Disneyland Paris.

He was also credited with turning around the fortunes of the Millennium Dome project (now the O2 Arena) after a disastrous first few months.

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PY became CEO of the London Resort in June 2019.

Mr Gerbeau added: "To make that vision a reality, we will only work with the best of the best that industry has to offer and today marks the first day of that exciting journey ahead."

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