Former London 2012 commercial chief to lead "British Disneyland" bid
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
December 11 - Chris Townsend, the former London 2012 commercial director, has taken on a new role that will see him lead the fundraising efforts for a proposed £2 billion ($3.1 billion/€2.5 billion) theme park in Kent, which has been dubbed the "British Disneyland".
Townsend received huge plaudits after leading efforts to raise the £2.4 billion ($3.8 billion/€2.9 billion) needed to stage the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
He has now taken up the role of commercial director at London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), the name of the company tasked with creating the Paramount Pictures entertainment park which is currently known as Paramount Kent.
LRCH will lead the project in the South East England county after signing a deal with Hollywood-based Paramount for an exclusive licence in the United Kingdom.
The theme park is planned to be a rival to Disneyland Paris in France, which is currently Europe's most visited themed attraction.
"Post-Olympics it's probably going to be the country's biggest and most exciting regeneration project," Townsend told the Evening Standard.
"The UK doesn't have a destination on this scale and the closest to us is Disneyland in Paris.
"There's real support at a local level and a lot of interest from potential investors.
"I'm confident that this stands a very good chance of happening but it is a tough market.
"The UK needs big regeneration projects to kick-start the economy and this will be a substantial tourism destination not just for the UK but for Europeans."
The theme park will feature Paramount brands such as Star Trek and there will be water parks, cinemas and live music venues.
"It will be taking the best of Paramount and bringing it to life," said Townsend.
Townsend will begin talks with city investors to raise funding for the project on an 872-acre site on the Swanscombe peninsula near Ebbsfleet.
The proposed theme park is scheduled to open in 2018 and Townsend believes most funding will be in place next year.
The park is also expected to create about 27,000 jobs in the area, giving a major boost to the British economy.
"It's a very different challenge to fundraising for the Olympics," Townsend said.
"Raising funds in the city was one of elements of the role that appealed to me, as well as the 27,000 new jobs it will create over a six year period."
Prior to London 2012, Townsend was the Transport for London's (TfL) group marketing director, where he was responsible for the launch of the Oyster card.