New shops bolster vision for Dartford

PLANS to secure Dartford's future as a thriving borough are being explored by a newly formed group of key community figures.

The Town Centre Forum is working to finalise a vision capable of injecting new life into

Dartford via a joint business plan.

The benefits of large-scale retail development at Prospect Place, creation of a town centre square, improvement of the town's night time economy and re-vamping Lowfield Street are cornerstones of the scheme.

Through regular meetings, the forum has agreed that making more of the town's historic markets and broadening its leisure attractions are central to boosting what it has to offer.

Members have identified better public transport, developing a travel plan to explore a range of ideas such as park and ride, ensuring the new Fastrack network has a growing role, and making Dartford's ring-road a two-way operation, as being vital to improving accessibility.

The vision also singles out additional CCTV coverage, improved street furniture, more housing and enhanced public spaces as measures which could help strengthen Dartford's identity.

Promoting the Orchard Theatre more as an evening venue and better policing and lighting to increase safety were also highlighted.

Dartford Council's managing director, Graham Harris, said: "I am ultimately hoping we will work hard to create a jointly-owned business plan, which will be used for investment purposes and to attract wider support for this initiative.

"Dartford town centre is facing an unparalleled series of challenges and opportunities, which are providing the stimulus needed for further investment and improvements.

"We are whole-heartedly committed to the essential philosophy of a shared vision, both created and owned by all."

Council officers are looking at ways to develop the projects and examining the cost implications. The vision, which is in its early stages, will be discussed further at the next forum meeting on February 25.

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