Universal Studios UK website updated with public engagement plans

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Universal Globe at theme park. Image: Universal Destinations & Experiences
Image: Universal Destinations & Experiences

The website, which was set up to update Bedfordians about a possible Universal Studios theme park in Kempston Hardwick near Bedford, has been updated today (Friday) with details that set out how they plan to begin engaging with local people.

In December last year, the Bedford Independent exclusively confirmed that Universal Destinations & Experiences were at the very early stages of looking into a UK theme park in the area.

Read: Breaking news: Universal Studios confirm they are planning a theme park in Bedford Borough

Later that month, UniversalUKProject.co.uk was launched, with the promise it would be used to update people with an interest in the plans for a UK-based Universal Theme Park.

Read: Universal Studios says “Hello, Bedford” with new website dedicated to theme park plan

Speaking to the Bedford Independent about the update to the website which happened at 1pm this afternoon, a spokesperson for Universal Destinations & Experiences made clear that this update does not represent a “greenlight” for the project.

“The updates instead, represent an important continuation of our feasibility and due diligence work,” they said.

“Running until 3 May, the period will allow us to share early thinking on our plans and help us to secure feedback from the local communities, businesses and key stakeholders.”

Public events

As part of this public engagement, there will be two local public exhibition events on 13 and 16 April. These will be held in two locations.

  • Saturday, 13 April 2024: 11am to 4pm – Kimberley College, Green Lane, Stewartby, Bedford MK43 9L
  • Tuesday 16 April 2024: 4.30pm to 8pm – Bedford College, Cauldwell Street, Bedford MK42 9AH

The spokesperson added, “Today marks the start of a public engagement period on our potential theme park and resort experience in Bedford.

“This represents the next step in our ongoing due diligence and feasibility work and is an opportunity for us to share early thinking on our plans and secure feedback.

“While it will still be some time before we decide whether or not we proceed, we look forward to further engaging with the community on this potential development.”

MP and Mayor respond

MP Mohammad Yasin MP (Labour) has welcomed the progress on the project after months of discussions with the company.

“I am pleased that after months of confidential discussions on the project and progress on this exciting development, we are now in a position to release some information into the public domain,” he said.

“I have been clear from the start with Universal that it is important that to keep public support they are as transparent as possible and I am pleased that at such an early stage of the project public engagement has begun.

“I would encourage everyone to share their views.

“I will continue to work with Universal to bring this exciting project to Bedfordshire, bringing jobs, supporting new and existing businesses, and helping to boost our local economy.

“Securing investment from Universal will be vital to securing Bedford and Kempston’s future and I will continue to do all I can to ensure that this project not only goes ahead but is of maximum benefit to our towns.”

Elected Mayor of Bedford Borough, Tom Wootton (Conservative) also welcomed the update and encouraged Bedfordians to take part.

“We are pleased to hear the latest news that Universal will hold a period of public engagement, welcoming feedback from our local communities, businesses and other stakeholders to prepare for a planning application submission and to secure the necessary planning approvals.

“We greatly recommend participation throughout the period of public engagement, encouraging residents to make their voices heard prior to its close on Friday 3 May.

“I’m excited about the plans for a potential Universal Theme Park and resort experience here in Bedford given its transformative impact for our area.”

Update: We updated this story at 1:12pm to add a quote from the Mayor of Bedford Borough, which was received after publication.