Now it's not particularly exciting (unless you're a keen enthusiast for the technicalities of planning) but Thorpe Park yesterday submitted an application "to partially re-instate permitted development rights to allow the erection of temporary buildings & structures &/or temporary use of land; booths and stalls and plant and machinery without the need for a specific planning permission on defined areas of the site"
These 'permitted development rights' (PDRs) are what allow the installation of buildings and attractions up to a certain height without the need to apply for planning permission at other theme parks, including Alton Towers as most will know. The cover letter
(which anyone curious about the application is welcome to read) gives the following reasoning for wanting to reintroduce parts of the GPDO:
It is considered that the adoption of PDRs will provide Thorpe Park with the flexibility to provide small scale kiosks, stalls, small scale rides up to specific agreed heights (temporary and permanent) without the need to apply for full planning permission, whilst also removing the Council’s requirement to consider numerous small scale minor development proposals, with the assurance that there is sufficient control on future development at the Park.
So here are the specifics of what Thorpe Park are requesting:
- Part 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO) to be reintroduced across the area within the blue line on plan ref. 472-9-121.1 Rev A, permitting temporary buildings and structures and/or temporary use of the land;
- Full Part 18 Class B of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO) to apply to the land within the black line on plan ref. 472-9-121.1 Rev A, permitting the erection of booths or stalls up to 5m in height, the extension of existing booths/stalls not exceeding 5m in height or the height of the roof of the existing building/structure (whichever is the greater) or the installation of plant or machinery (including rides) up to 25m in height; and
- Part of Part 18 Class B of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO) to apply to the land within the green line on plan ref. 472-9-121.1 Rev A, permitting the erection and/or extension of booths or stalls as above but not the erection of plant/machinery i.e. rides.
The bit about allowing the installation of rides up to 25m in height is probably of the most interest to people, but the application highlights that this is actually lower than the 30m threshold previously agreed with the council, so doesn't really represent any significant change. The viewpoint images give an indication of the scale of attraction that could be constructed given the 25m limit (red columns
), and interestingly also simulate the height on the Fleet Peninsular PDR area (blue columns
) - could this indicate a potential site that Thorpe are thinking of developing with the addition of such an attraction? It's perhaps also curious that the application seems to make a point of highlighting the 50m coaster that was approved for the Island next to The Swarm's - could this again give some indication of what Thorpe are considering for an upcoming major addition?
If approved, obviously the intended outcome is that the Resort aren't obligated to submit as many planning applications, which may mean we may not be aware of the addition of rides and attractions until there are signs of construction. However, it is stated "that, as set out under the GPDO, any development that would trigger the need for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (including potential for a significant landscape or visual effect) would require an application for planning permission to be submitted to RBC alongside an EIA"
, therefore we may still get to see applications for large, major investments.
Hopefully, that's provided a coherent summary of Thorpe's latest application, and perhaps raised some intriguing questions about the Resort's future. It could be that this comes ahead of them submitting a new MTDP, or maybe instead of them submitting one at all...