Published: 06:00, 23 August 2019
The man behind a controversial adventure centre has hit back at critics.
The climbing and zip wire complex will open at Bluewater next year after councillors granted planning permission at a meeting earlier this month.
The plans have caused upset among some local residents who are worried about noise from the site, among other concerns.
But the managing director of Hangloose Adventure, Brian Phelps, has said his application will not become an “amusement park”.
Instead, the cliffs of the Greenhithe shopping centre will become the home for multiple adventure activities, including a zip wire, gravity swing, sky trek obstacle course, rock climbing and a sky diving machine.
The company owner made the remarks during a Dartford council planning meeting.
One Greenhithe resident, Julie Partridge, was among dozens who objected and spoke during the meeting, saying: “Now there will be screaming, shouting and flying people there every day.”
"We are not an amusement park." - Brian Phelps
A public consultation was held in November last year and received 71 letters of objections.
Addressing some concerns, particularly about noise levels, Mr Phelps said he runs a similar initiative at Cornwall’s Eden Project, which has been described as having the longest zip line in the country.
During his time working at the project, he said schools were encouraged to attend with children planting new trees to learn more about how the environment works as well as trying out the adventure sport equipment.
The managing director said he hoped this type of work would be emulated at the Bluewater shopping centre complex.
He later said: “We are not an amusement park. It’s a good news story for the community and environment and we have subsidised rates for schools and special sessions for disabled mobility.”
Health and safety concerns were also raised.
The committee was then told guests would be educated about the health and safety risks by registering at a reception area, watching a health and safety video and signing a risk assessment form.
Adventure goers would then be taken to the site on a minibus, which would hold around eight people.
The application was unanimously approved.