Up to 2,000 construction workers building the proposed £5bn mega theme park in Swanscombe could be asked to live on cruise ships on the River Thames.
The London Resort are ‘seriously considering’ the plans, which would see two large boats docked in Tilbury, Essex, opposite the theme park site on Swanscombe Marshes.
Up to 2,000 construction workers are estimated to be needed for the six-year mammoth build of the UK’s answer to Disneyland, with work due to start in 2022, if planning approval is achieved.
In response, unions have urged the London Resort to engage in full consultation with them before making any decisions to ensure the cruise ships don’t end up becoming ‘expensive prisons’.
It is understood that a lack of hotel rooms and rentals in Kent and Essex means to enormous workforce would create “extensive pressure” on temporary accommodation, meaning cruise ships are a viable option.
London Resort Company Holdings says it has already been approached by several ferry and cruise companies offering to lease or sell ships, adding that the proposals would be considered by the planning inspectorate.
The 535-acre site, located on the Swanscombe Peninsula in north Kent, has been in the works for years, but on December 31, 2020, finally submitted a formal planning application to Government.
A document containing over 25,000 reports detailing how the largely brownfield former-industrial site will be transformed into a world-leading entertainment destination is currently under consideration.
Unite issued a statement after the cruise ship plans emerged, warning the organisers to discuss them first before any decisions are made.
The union say they have concerns about the quality of the accommodation, the cost of both the accommodation and food, and the ability of the workers to freely leave the ships and venture into the local area.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “On the face of it this looks like an attractive option for workers. The Hinkley Point project has demonstrated how good quality accommodation for major construction projects attracts highly skilled workers.
“However, it is essential that the cruise ships don’t in reality become an expensive prison.
“It is essential that those concerned in the project enter into negotiations with Unite, to provide guarantees on not just the price of accommodation but the cost and quality of the food provided, as workers will have no access to their own cooking facilities.”
Billed as one of the most ambitious construction projects in Europe ever, the site would contain two twin theme parks and would be three times larger than any other park in the UK when complete, and it is ultimately expected to support around 17,000 jobs.
Over 3,500 hotel rooms will be created and two ferry terminals – one each side of the River Thames – will be built, along with back-of-house facilities, a visitor centre and a new road from the A2.
The entire project has been severely criticised by conversationalists, with over 20,000 people signing a petition to protect the surrounding marshland and the hundreds of species it supports.
Last month the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign penned a letter to Natural England asking for the area to become a designated site of special scientific interest, which would effectively block the theme park, due to the population of a critically endangered jumping spider.
The organisers behind the London Resort say extensive research and planning has gone into making the development safe and environmentally friendly, and they also plan on achieving net-zero emissions across the park.
The London Resort will be the first European development of its kind to be built from scratch since the opening of Disneyland Paris in 1992. If successful in securing development consent, construction could begin in 2022 with a view to opening in 2024, with the second park opening in 2029,