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Scary Fairground Update: Can An Abandoned Theme Park in Lancashire Really Be Worth £793M?

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Camelot theme park chorley lancashire
The entrance to the abanonded Camelot theme park at Chorley

Scooby-Doo would have known what to do: confronted with the vast crumbling acreage of the abandoned Camelot Theme Park, he would have run. Fast.

Yet according to one firm of optimistic consultants, Scooby is (as usual) overreacting. This particular sinister fairground at Chorley, Lancashire, is not full of creepy janitors dressed as ghosts in order to scare visitors away from their nefarious smuggling plot. Or if it is, Bisnow has no proof. Rather, it is full of potential because it is worth a staggering £793M on what one consultancy describes as a conservative valuation.

The valuation by Together Money dramatises the problems faced by the build-to-rent apartment sector a few miles south in the boomtown of Manchester. Valuers regularly complain that their agency colleagues in the city haven't got this right, with optimistic overvaluation of rental values an habitual source of tension.

Together Money looked at how much eight of the world’s biggest abandoned spaces might fetch if planning permissions were approved and the land sold. Chorley's King Arthur-themed park was assessed along with New York's North Brother Island, China's Wonderland Amusement Park and Australia's Wittenoom, and scary fairgrounds from Italy, Japan and Germany.

The consultancy said many of them, including Chorley's Camelot, are near densely populated towns and cities, so one may expect they are in high demand from commercial developers or investors who would be queueing up to take a stake in the redevelopment, yet they have lain unused and decaying for decades.

Together Money arrived at its estimated value of each site by estimating how many 900 SF apartments could be built on the total area. It then calculated the value of each apartment by sourcing local equivalent property prices and applying them in each location. It offset the allowance for open spaces by calculating property values based on developments of only one storey (i.e., not building vertically). It said this represents a minimum estimated value of each site.

Together Money told Bisnow it sourced each dataset from Numbeo, a database of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.

"This is maybe just a little inspiration for future developers," Together Money told Bisnow.

Camelot theme park chorley lancashire
The shuttered entrance to the abandoned Camelot Theme Park, Chorley

The 140-acre Camelot Theme Park opened in 1983, enjoyed a decade of glory, then closed suddenly in 2012. Attempts to redevelop have come to nothing, with the latest plan for a 195-home redevelopment refused in 2018.

However, Chorley's Camelot comes fairly low on the list of hyper-valuable freaked-out real estate.

New York's North Brother Island is probably the most authentically scary. The island in the East River housed an isolation hospital whose long-term residents include the notorious Typhoid Mary. She died in 1938 and the hospital closed soon after. The island has since been abandoned. This charming real estate is valued at £367M.

According to Together Money the most valuable is the 120-acre Wonderland Amusement Park at Chenzhuang, 20 miles outside Beijing. It comes in at a cool £1.9B. Vaguely inspired by Disneyland, it fell into financial problems in 1998 leaving a half-built Cinderella's Castle to go to ruin. Before long most of the structures had fallen down or been overrun by grazing cattle and what was left was demolished in 2013. Half was converted into a luxury outlet shopping mall, but the rest remains undeveloped.