Central Park and Acacia Hall, Dartford
From Autumn 2019, Central Park will see the start of work to restore a 700m stretch of the River Darent for the benefit of wildlife and public amenity. The restoration works will bring a healthy chalk river habitat back to the centre of Dartford for the local community and visitors to enjoy.
Chalk streams are globally rare freshwater habitats: there are only 210 chalk streams in the world, 160 of these are in England, and most of them are heavily impacted by human activity.
The current river habitat is not what we would expect “in nature” from a chalk stream – with raised banks, an artificial concrete channel and redundant weir that makes the flow sluggish and causes silt build up. Heavy shading by non-native sycamore trees limits plant growth and habitat diversity along the channel.
The weir and concrete from the bed and banks will be removed and the river will be carefully diverted while this work is done. We will then use natural methods to reintroduce more natural flow regimes and habitats in the river. Replacing non-native trees with native varieties will let light back into stretches of the river, and we will use the trees that we thin out as material for restoration measures.
Benefits of the restoration
- More diverse habitats will support a greater number and variety of plants and animals including fish, birds, dragonflies and water voles
- Beautiful views of the built heritage of Acacia Hall and natural heritage of the river
- Increased access and visibility of the river that reconnect the community and visitors with a more healthy and natural river
- Interpretation boards to increase awareness of the history of the river in Dartford
- An enhanced river in Central Park, increasing the park’s profile in Kent
- Improved safety and flood risk management
- A more inviting and attractive gateway to and from the town centre
“This is a fantastic example of partnership working, enabling us to restore this precious chalk stream ecosystem for the benefit of the environment and local community, both now and for generations to come.”Sally Harvey, Area Director, Environment Agency
Dartford Borough Council, the South East Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency are working together to bring natural, wildlife-rich features to this rare and important chalk river.
“I’m not sure that many Dartford residents appreciate just how much valuable environment and biodiversity we have in our town. It’s quite a topical issue with lots of people campaigning for ‘this and that’, but the truth is our town is very well advanced in enhancing these environments. The work we are doing at Acacia will make a huge difference to the river, the wildlife who call it home and every visitor who enjoys it.”Jeremy Kite, Leader of Dartford Borough Council
For full information on this exciting project please read our introductory blog HERE.