There are big changes ahead for one of Dartford’s ‘hidden assets’ and they are all based on heritage.
Anyone arriving at the town centre down east hill will have walked past the imposing gates of the Acacia estate opposite Holy Trinity Church but not everyone may know what treasures lay inside.
The Acacia estate was purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome for the benefit of workers at his burgeoning pharmaeutical business in the town ( It went on to become GSK) and when the company decided to withdraw from the town a decade ago it’s future was uncertain.
Dartford’s Conservative Council purchased the former Glaxo Smith Kline staff sports and social club at Acacia to safeguard it for future generations of Dartford people. The Council has already amalgamated acres of sports fields into the town’s hugely popular Central Park but is now restoring and improve the rest of the site including a number of historic buildings surrounding the Grade II listed Acacia Hall.
In the months ahead, you will start to see the next exciting phase of our plans – breathing new life into the fine historic buildings and creating a new public space which, like Central Park, will have tradition and heritage at the heart.
A grand new gated entrance will be provided next to the museum that will give fine views of the historic Acacia Mansion House as well as provide access for new Town Centre car parking handy for town centre shoppers. For the first time ever, the historic Acacia estate will link directly with both the Market Square and Central Park.
In late 2018 we also launch a major refurbishment of Market Street that will see the creation of a new Market Square designed to extend the feeling of open and green space even further into the town centre. Bus stands will be relocated and concrete and slabs removed in favour of ‘pocket parks’ for lunchtime eating. We aim to create space for restaurants and cafes to spill on to wider, safer pavements. In short, we intend to bring the sense of style and tradition we’ve brought to Central Park right into the heart of Dartford.
Council Leader Jeremy Kite said heritage and history are at the heart of the proposals just as they have been throughout the restoration of Central Park. He said “Integrating the Acacia estate with Central Park and the town centre is pretty much the final part of a ten-year plan to restore some old-fashioned Edwardian elegance to our historic park, gardens and open space.”
“People seem to love the way we have put heritage at the heart of our restoration of Central Park but it’s always been sad to know that there’s a historic mansion house and grounds right next door that is hidden away and crowded by modern buildings. We think the Acacia grounds deserve to be better integrated with the Park, the Mansion House should sit proudly at one side of a new civic square and car parks on the site should be better designed to reflect both their historic setting and the needs of visitors” – Council Leader Jeremy Kite.
“Our plans mean that some of the hotchpotch of late twentieth century buildings on the site will have to go but I think there’s a growing appreciation in society that beautiful and truly historic buildings deserve to be in the right setting. Where we are proposing to take away one modern use, such as the old social club building, we are planning to replace new facilities in a far more appropriate setting elsewhere in the grounds.”
“A number of the best ideas for Central Park came directly from park visitors and we hope people become just as interested in the work we’re doing at Acacia. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create some very special public space in a truly historic setting.” said Jeremy.