Ah yes, it's time again to discuss Thorpe's future.
I'll start off by responding to a couple of things which stood out to me in Matt's post...
- The park recently reactivated a request for loosened planning restrictions after a few years of leaving it dormant. Could this pave the way for them to file for planning permission for a project?
I'm not sure if I've missed something or if this is a big misunderstanding. However, I do believe this has been discussed on here before (where, I do not know, but I'm sure it has).
The most recent planning application the park submitted was in June. This was a retrospective application related to the tents by the main entrance, which will be up until the end of the year. The tents didn't need planning permission (due to their temporary nature), but usually in these circumstances, the reason for the retrospective application is usually because the park are planning a similar, permanent solution, and it makes it easier to get permission. That is not confirmed I should add - just my speculation there.
Thorpe Park's planning application procedure is quite strict: if they want to build a permanent structure, they have to submit plans which detail it to a very high degree of accuracy. However, the park and council have a good relationship in that the park do have a great deal of scope, within reason, to build whatever they want. This is different to, say, Alton Towers, who can be quite vague within their applications, so long as it meets the strict conditions set out between park and council.
Back in 2017, the park submitted an application to effectively bypass submitting plans. This would be for rides under 25m tall and buildings under 5m tall. Basically, as long as the park followed a set of pre-determined guidelines, the park could do anything within them.
This application had an obvious wrinkle and a big caveat. The wrinkle is any ride over 25m tall, and any building over 5m tall would still need planning applications submitted. The caveat is that roller coasters still needed planning applications, regardless of height.
The application was neither approved nor denied. I hear that the council had reservation but didn't come to a formal agreement. Back in November last year, and 'Extension of Time' agreement was submitted, which expired in April this year. I still don't know what that means or what the resulting consequences are. All I do know is that on the council's planning portal, there is no indication of a formal verdict related to the planning application.
I should add it's weird in my opinion that the council haven't got a formal verdict. It's also weird how this extension of time thing came about and seemingly nothing happened. But I no very little about planning rules and such so my opinion means very little there.
If Thorpe Park want to build a new ride, they've got to submit plans for it. Any recent activity with new applications or additions to old ones gives no indication if something is happening, or not.
- Tree clearance is taking place on the current site of Logger’s Leap; the amount cleared is gradually getting bigger, with a lot of trees being removed between April 2020 and March 2021:
As has been said, tree clearance can take place for many reasons. I think there's a certain level of mileage in the theory that some trees may have been diseased and / or used for theming within the Creek Freaks Unchained scare zone last year. But who knows.
An important thing to remember though is tree felling is a dead easy thing to do. The amount of trees you can see that they've cut down in the photos posted could easily be done very quickly. If the speculation is that this is for a new investment (especially a 2024 investment), why is it being done now? Logically, there's no reason to surely?
to add some fuel to the flames (which I possibly shouldn't do, not least because fuel is at a premium at the moment apparently)... anyone who pays attention will know that Jack Silkstone has connections with Thorpe. He's recently been involved with making the teaser videos for Fright Nights. I'm sure he is also his own separate identity still, and some of his speculation stuff is what made him more well known as a Youtuber in the first place. But a suspicious (or perhaps naively hopeful?) person could suggest that Jack is posting those pictures because he's been told
to, either to foreshadow an actual investment going there, or to just keep goons talking about Thorpe.
Tree clearing means nothing really. But I see why people are raising an eyebrow.
- It has been confirmed to be Platform 15’s final year at Fright Nights. Could this maze’s removal be paving the way for something new to be constructed?
Now this is an interesting one. Aside from The Asylum, the park have never announced a Fright Nights attraction's final year until after the event (and Asylum's announcement was a quiet one related to the mental health controversy that surrounded the maze in its final year).
There's so many different possibilities that could be happening here. It's the park's current longest serving FN maze and is in need of a refresh. So a replacement could just happen there. If there's issues with the trees round there perhaps the park anticipate that the space won't be suitable for a maze next year. Perhaps because the park are making a big deal out of it being FN's 20th anniversary they've just decided to try a different marketing tactic.
With the other stuff, I again don't blame people for raising a eyebrow and being in some sense hopeful. But at the same time, there's just so many layers on non-news there.
- There are increasing amounts of people from different sources claiming to know that something is coming to Thorpe Park. For instance, I’ve heard numerous people on both TowersStreet and Thorpe Park Mania claiming to have seen plans and/or to know of a project coming to Thorpe Park, with 2024 as the rumoured opening date being thrown around by these people. I’m not just talking one person here, I’m talking quite a few people.
Always one of my bigger bugbears with the wider community of enthusiasts. People get "insider info" one way or another and decide to spill some sort of beans online, usually to self-inflate their ego or similar. Usually, these things come about from Chinese whispers or from people saying something to someone they shouldn't, and it can also spiral from there. I'm always of the thought process that if you can say something, say everything, if you can't say something, say nothing. The whole "I know something but can't say what but if I say this it's okay because I haven't said it" routine is tiresome.
The other thing here is if you rewind 3-4 years ago, plenty of people (maybe even the same people) were saying they have seen plans and/or know of a project going to Thorpe Park in 2020. I'm not saying that's necessarily false - as I have no doubt that there were plans for a roller coaster at Thorpe in 2020 - but what roller coaster opened in 2020? Things change.
Everyone and their grandmothers know that Thorpe could do with new attractions, including Thorpe and Merlin themselves. I'm sure plenty would agree that a new roller coaster would go down a treat too. But right now there's no indication what they're up to.
Maybe we'll see a launched T-Rex? Or the fabled B&M hyper? Or heck, why not a 300ft Mack? Or an Xtreme Spinner?
Whatever it is, and whenever it happens, we probably won't know until the park submit some plans. But if we are genuinely looking at a new coaster opening in 2024, we probably wouldn't see plans until sometime between Summer 2022-Spring 2023. In other words, another year of shooting in dark, haphazard speculation.