Published: 09:18, 15 October 2019
| Updated: 09:50, 15 October 2019
Some 300 trees are to be cut down at one of Maidstone's most popular attractions as part of a £2 million project to protect it from flooding.
A review into Mote Park's dam found it was not suitable for modern-day standards, with councillors told the area could be at "significant risk" of being submerged if drastic action wasn't taken.
They were previously warned that the existing defences failing and releasing water from the lake could result in three deaths and around £5 million of property damage.
As it stands heavy rainfall could cause downstream flooding towards Turkey Mill business park and into the River Len.
The council warns that if the dam were to fail, the risk posed could see the water swell rapidly over 40 acres of land, which would see Turkey Mill, Mote Park and surrounding areas under water.
With estimated depths of 12 feet this would endanger lives and damage homes and businesses.
In response, the council is preparing to start a series of works, which include refurbishing the sluice gates, increasing the capacity of the overspill of the lake, and constructing a ‘wave wall’ and a short section of embankment.
KMTV report on the issue
The local authority says these works - which will begin in December and last around a year - will improve the capacity to control the transfer of flow across the dam and ensure that the dam does not fail during extreme flood events.
However, in order to do so, 300 of the attraction's 54,000 trees will need to be removed between the park and Turkey Mill Lake - which critics have previously warned will change its landscape forever.
To mitigate this, the council insists these will be replaced with 300 new trees during November on the perimeter of the park, adding to hundreds of others which have been planted over the past six years.
All wood removed will remain in the park and be used to create benches, woodchip, footpaths and habitat piles.
Council leader Cllr Martin Cox said: “We have been planning these essential works for some time and have appointed consultants to carry out various studies to make sure any works will be sufficient to ensure the safety of the dam during an extreme flood.
“There will be some disruption around the park and lake during the works, however we will try to minimise this and hope to have works completed by the end of 2020.
“We are saddened to have to cut down trees, however the safety of residents is our top priority and we cannot risk the integrity of the dam.”
More by this authorTom Pyman