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Bluewater Aqua water park proposals withdrawn after campaign fought to protect Nature Trail and lake


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Plans for an inflatable "Aqua Park" at Bluewater have been scrapped after residents and councillors voiced their disapproval.

A bid had been submitted by company Aqua Parcs to build a seasonal adrenaline-fuelled water-based attraction on the main lake at the Greenhithe shopping centre.

The seasonal water park proposals would be based at Lake 5 at Bluewater Shopping Centre. Photo: Aqua Parcs
The seasonal water park proposals would be based at Lake 5 at Bluewater Shopping Centre. Photo: Aqua Parcs

It proposed to build a total of nine 20ft containers and three 40ft containers to accompany the attraction, which would have lasted between July and October this year.

But it was met with fierce criticism from local people who feared it would ruin a "tranquil" green space used by local during lockdown and permanently harm wildlife and eco-diversity.

Greenhithe resident Katie Lynch, launched a petition calling for Dartford Council to scrap the plans.

It had garnered more than 8,000 signatures at the time it confirmed the application had been withdrawn.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite, who does not sit on the development control board tasked with deciding such applications, took the unusual step of voicing his "personal" concerns.

Dartford Council leader Jeremy Kite voiced his personal opposition to the proposals. Picture: Steve Crispe
Dartford Council leader Jeremy Kite voiced his personal opposition to the proposals. Picture: Steve Crispe

He said: "There is a right place for it and I think the wildlife deserves a bit of peace and quiet."

Cllr Kite said he felt compelled to speak out to preserve what had become a cherished space for residents and families to enjoy in lockdown.

Bluewater also deserved "a bit of credit for what they have done in the first place," he added.

"I don’t walk the nature trail there as much as I would like but when I do, it’s hard not to find it a staggeringly calm and natural space.

"The views over, and across, the environment they have created are simply wonderful."

The challenge now he says will be for them to find more suitable ventures in the future with council support.

The nature trail and green spaces have been a haven for young families and local residents during lockdown
The nature trail and green spaces have been a haven for young families and local residents during lockdown

"This is about attracting people," he said. "There are different ways of attracting people and some times the simple natural thing is nicer than something a bit more active."

Cllr Laura Edie, who recently left Labour and joined the Green Party, was also pleased to see the application withdrawn.

The Newtown councillor said: "We are absolutely over the moon with the news that the application to build a water park in the Bluewater nature trail has been withdrawn.

"Since starting this campaign just over a week ago, we have been overwhelmed by the out pouring of support from the local community for this treasured wildlife park.

"The success of the campaign has really highlighted the power of community action to us."

Cllr Edie also praised the "cross party effort" of councillors which she said had shown what can be achieved "working together".

"The success of the campaign has really highlighted the power of community action to us."

"Everybody has come out from every single party and it has been a success," she added.

Bluewater supported Aqua Parc's decision to withdraw its bid but said it was "tinged with a little sadness".

A spokesman for the shopping centre said: “We are aware that Aqua Parcs has decided to withdraw their planning application.

"We support this decision, although this is tinged with a little sadness.

"Our mission at Bluewater is to provide fantastic experiences for all our guests and we firmly believe that the Aqua Parcs’ offer supports this mission, and that everything was done to ensure there would be no impact on the environment from this temporary attraction.

“That said, we know how important Bluewater and its outside spaces are to our guests and the wider community, and the important role it plays in the health and mental wellbeing of those who have been able to visit, particularly through this last year.

"We would again like to thank those of you who have reached out to share your feedback.”

Caroline Green, a spokesman for Dartford council, said: "The application for an Aqua Parcs at Bluewater has been withdrawn by the applicant.

"The council will be informing everyone that made a representation."

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