Universal Studios plans to set foot in the United Kingdom, but neighbors have divided opinions and controversy surrounding the potential new English theme park: there are fears about traffic, risk of flooding, and some neighbors would have to sell their homes.
Universal Studios is considering expanding its theme park business to Europe, where Disney easily dominates (with little effort) with Disneyland Paris. Although many expect it to be in PortAventura, the only plan officially known is in the United Kingdom.
At the end of last year, Universal confirmed rumors about the construction of a theme park called Universal Studios Great Britain (according to records found by Orlando Park Stop).
If given the green light, which it does not have yet, it would be built in the Bedfordshire county, 75 kilometers north of London, and specifically in a village called Stewartby, with only 1,121 registered residents, where the arrival of the theme park would have a huge impact, generating mixed opinions.
“I think they should be allowed to build here, it’s much more exciting than building more houses. It would put Stewartby on the map,” said Shane Walker, a local pub waiter, quoted by DailyMail, who believes the theme park could revive the village after the closure of the brick factories for which the village was previously known.
Concern about traffic or flooding before the possible Universal Studios park
But not all opinions are so optimistic. Walker acknowledges that traffic could be a problem, and it is already a common concern of his bar’s customers, as only one incident on the local road could cause congestion.
“Any new traffic that the new theme park could bring will only make things horrendous: it will be a carnage,” said another neighbor, Karla Robertson, who fears the noise that the houses closest to the roads would suffer, which would be filled with tourists.
And there is another significant problem: floods. She says that it is known for floods, “if Northampton floods, all the water from the River Nene will come down here. I would like to know if they have thought of any flood defences, otherwise no one will want to go.”
But other effects of the construction of the park could be beneficial for residents. “If housing prices rise, it could mean that more people will consider selling and getting more money“.
Some neighbors could lose their homes if the park were to be built
But this could be a major inconvenience for neighbors whose houses could be bought by Universal for being on the land purchased by the multinational. At least four homes on Manor Road signed confidentiality agreements preventing them from speaking about the park’s plans.
A couple has invested 100,000 pounds in renovations to their home, but has halted the work upon learning of the possible park, fearing they may have to sell the house to Universal.
“We would like to know what’s going on, as we’ve had to stop our work in case we move. We’ve had many happy memories in this house and it would be sad if we had to move.”
However, both are optimistic that the construction of the park would be great news for the community. “We are prepared to do it because we are realistic, and having a theme park like Universal on our doorstep would be fantastic,” said Mrs. Quigley.
Her partner declares that they have big plans for this house: “I’ve spent £100,000 so far and I’m hoping to spend another £80,000 to make it perfect. But I think the theme park is a big win for Bedford and the UK, and I will ask for a VIP pass.”
For now, the construction of the Universal park in the UK is a possibility that is on the table, and local authorities have already been informed, but the decision to move forward with the park has not yet been made, and this could still take months. If it goes ahead, the predicted opening date is 2030, but creative decisions for the park’s content have not yet been made.