Merlin has revealed plans for a new Legoland theme park near Charleroi Airport in Belgium
Set to open to guests by 2027, the park and its infrastructure will initially cover an area of 70 hectares
The development will cost between €370m and €400m
The park will be located in Gosselies on a former industrial site
Merlin Entertainments Group has revealed plans for a new Legoland theme park near Charleroi Airport in Belgium.
Set to open to guests by 2027, Merlin has signed a partnership agreement with two investment funds – SOGEPA and SFPI – and SORESIC, the Charleroi-based organization specializing in redeveloping the region’s industrial sites.
The park will be located in Gosselies on a former industrial site formerly used for the building of heavy construction machinery by global giant Caterpillar.
The park and its infrastructure will initially cover an area of 70 hectares, with a further 20 hectares being set aside for future extensions or developments.
The partnership document sets out how the project will regenerate the former Caterpillar site, create more than 1,000 jobs and strengthen the region’s tourism ecosystem.
It also shows that the development will cost between €370m and €400m.
John Jakobsen, Merlin’s COO for Legoland Resorts Group, said: “This is another exciting ‘building block’ laid for bringing a potential Legoland Resort to the many Lego Fans across Wallonia, Benelux and Northern France.
“We will continue to work closely with the Walloon Government and the City of Charleroi and our stakeholder partners at SOGEPA, SFPI and SORESIC to hopefully make this vision an awesome reality.”
Merlin currently has three Legoland Resorts in Europe and has been actively looking to expand its presence in Europe for several years – and in particular in the BENELUX/Northern France region.
The attractions giant has identified the region as a viable market for a fourth European Legoland Resort.
The previous, full-size Legoland resort to open in Europe was Legoland Resort Deutschland, which was launched in 2002 – more than 20 years ago.
According to Merlin, the technical and market studies carried out showed the potential of a location on the former Caterpillar industrial site, which is situated in the center of a densely populated area and close to major transport facilities: motorway junctions, a well-developed rail network and a well-served airport
“The strong appeal of Legoland Resorts leaves the prospect of a potential 21 million visitors located within a two-hour drive,” Merlin said about the Charleroi location.
“A Legoland Resort will typically attract in the range of 1.5-2m visitors per year. With the strong market base supporting this site we believe this can also be achieved in Charleroi.”
Willy Borsus, Walloon minister of the economy, added: “With the project to establish a Legoland in Charleroi, we are taking a new step in a strong and constantly developing sector: that of leisure and tourism.
“The Walloon leisure ecosystem is already well developed and this project will strengthen it in the best possible way, as Lego is a strong brand that is appreciated by the majority of people. It is therefore an opportunity to be seized for Wallonia, both for employment , the visibility of our Region and the economy as a whole.
“The Legoland project will also make it possible to achieve a major objective of the Government: to rehabilitate our industrial wastelands.
“The former Caterpillar site provides a concrete response to the needs of the Merlin group, while at the same time meeting those of the Charleroi basin and, more broadly, of Wallonia, with the creation of around 1,000 jobs that cannot be relocated and certainly more because of the additional indirect jobs that would be created.”