Universal Studios buys Bedford brickworks for theme park plan

Universal Studios globe
Image caption,Universal Destinations and Experiences said it would be many months before it made a decision on any plans for a theme park in Bedfordshire

Universal Studios has said it is “exploring” the possibility of building a park and resort on a former brickworks site in Bedfordshire.

Universal Destinations and Experiences said it had purchased 480 acres of land at Stewartby as it was “always looking at new locations around the world”.

It was in the “early stages of exploring its feasibility”.

The land has had planning permission for 1,000 homes, but they were not built.

Four chimneys at the former Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick brickworks, near Bedford
Image caption,The former brickworks site used to have 167 chimneys, but they have all since been demolished

A spokeswoman for the company behind Universal Studios said: “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.”

It was in the “very early” stages in the planning process.

The former industrial site once had 167 chimneys, for producing bricks, but the final four were demolished in 2021.

In a statement the company said: “We are always looking at new locations around the world, including in Europe, and the UK is an attractive place for a potential project.

“The UK has a large population, creative industries, strong tourism, and transportation infrastructure with close proximity to other parts of Europe,” said the Universal spokeswoman.

The area was chosen, due to its “transportation connectivity to London and Europe with more than half of the UK population within two hours, including just 45 minutes outside of London”.

It also highlighted its proximity to Luton Airport.

An empty building in Stewartby, Bedfordshire
Image caption,Many of the buildings on the former brickworks are empty and have fallen into disrepair

“We support Bedford’s vision of becoming a prosperous place to live, work and visit,” the statement added.

The US-based company said: “We take a proactive approach to partnering with local communities and stakeholders (like Bedford Borough Council) when pursuing potential projects.”

Tom Wootton, the elected mayor of Bedford Borough Council, said: http://buerinas.com/ “The suggestion of a major business investment is of course positive, nevertheless these are early days and much detailed work is required before any decisions are made.

“We very much welcome and are excited by the interest from Universal and the immense potential for it to be transformative for the borough.

“We’re committed to ensure that any plans align with the best interests of our residents.”

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