Universal UK resort ‘could bring £50bn economic boost’

Universal’s first UK theme park is expected to be open all year round and will potentially generate nearly £50bn of economic benefits for the UK.

That’s according to the company’s economic impact analysis of the plans, produced in line with HM Treasury guidelines and published on Wednesday.

Universal Destinations & Experiences has bought almost 500 acres of land near Bedford where it is proposing to build Europe’s largest theme park as well as a 500-room hotel and a dining area that would be open to non-ticket holders.

“A world-class theme park and resort from Universal has the potential to generate billions in economic benefit for the UK, by creating thousands of high-quality jobs and attracting millions of new visitors to the country,” said Page Thompson, president of new ventures at Universal Destinations & Experiences.

Universal’s economic impact analysis forecasts that the net economic contribution of the project for the UK would be £35.1bn over the construction period and first 20 years of operation. Up to a further £14.1bn is expected to be generated in net additional tax returns for HM Treasury over the same period.

Located just south of Bedford between Kempston, Wootton, Stewartby and Wixams, the site was once occupied by Kempston Hardwick brickworks, which closed in 2008.

Universal Destinations & Experiences has submitted planning proposals for the project and has held talks with local council officials.

However, Sky News reports that the company is seeking planning permission via a Special Development Order, under which the UK government would make the final decision.