Universal Studios gives update on plans for UK theme park in letter to Bedfordshire residents

24 December 2023, 14:33

Bedfordshire residents have been given an update on the future of a Universal Studios theme park in the UK.
Bedfordshire residents have been given an update on the future of a Universal Studios theme park in the UK. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

Universal Studios has written to residents about its plans for a “potential” theme park and resort in the UK.

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The Studios said earlier this week it was "exploring" opening a theme park in the UK after purchasing 480 acres of land.

Bedfordshire has been tipped as the location of the potential park after purchasing the land at Stewartby.

Now Universal Destinations and Experiences has written a letter to Bedfordshire residents and set up a website to keep locals updated.

John McReynolds, who works on the company’s external affairs, told residents that it may be "months" before a decision on whether to progress with the plans are made.

He said in the letter: “While we do own the land, we are only at the beginning of our feasibility study as part of our evaluation of potential sites.

“It may well therefore be many months before we decide whether to proceed with the project.

The location was picked due to its proximity to London and connections to Europe.

The land purchased is a former industrial site, which once had 167 chimneys, and recently received planning permission to build 1,000 homes - but these were not built.

Mr McReynolds continued: “There is still a long way to go, and we may not have any more information to share in the near term. Rest assured, if this potential project does progress, we will reach out to you again.”

Universal Studios said it could be months before they decide to progress with the plans.
Universal Studios said it could be months before they decide to progress with the plans. Picture: Alamy

Bedford Borough Council has welcomed the development of a theme park, as elected mayor Tom Wootton said it could be “transformative for the borough”.

However, he added that “detailed work” would be required before any decisions are made and that the council was “committed to ensure that any plans align with the best interests of our residents”.

A Universal spokesperson said in the original announcement: "We recently acquired land in Bedford and are at the early stages of exploring its feasibility for a potential park and resort at this site.

"It will be many months before we are ready to make a decision to proceed and we look forward to engaging with all relevant stakeholders and the local community."

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There are already five Universal Studios parks across the world.
There are already five Universal Studios parks across the world. Picture: Getty

It comes after a Universal Studios Great Britain website was registered by parent company NBC Universal.

Comcast, the telecoms firm that runs NBC Universal, is also said to have bought a company with links to the Bedford brickwork site in August.

There are already five Universal Studios parks: Hollywood and Orlando in the US, Osaka in Japan, Sentosa in Singapore and Beijing in China.

A Texas park is also in the process of being built.

Universal is behind huge blockbusters including Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and the Despicable Me series.

The theme parks also feature franchises produced by other studios, such as Harry Potter and The Simpsons.

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