Plans for an inflatable ‘Aqua Park’ on a lake by Bluewater have been withdrawn after receiving fierce public criticism.
The plans, submitted by Aqua Parks, would have seen a temporary inflatable obstacle course on Lake Five at Bluewater Shopping Centre, emerging for the summer months for some water-based fun.
But a campaign quickly emerged stating the water attraction would ruin the “well-loved” Bluewater Nature Trial and cause extensive damage to over 100 species of animals, making it “not an appropriate place for a water park.”
Over 8,000 signatures were signed against the proposals, and Dartford Council leader Jeremy Kite also voiced his personal concerns about preserving the “staggeringly calm and natural space.”
The plans have now been withdrawn on the planning portal, with Bluewater stating their support for the decision, “although this is tinged with a little sadness.”
Located at Lake Five at Bluewater Shopping Centre, the plans described the construction of an aqua park for temporary use between July and October 2021 and May to October 2022.
This included an inflatable obstacle course split into three sections along the trail, plus other water-based activities with nine 20ft containers and three 40ft containers for officers, staff and first aid rooms, showers, toilets and changing rooms.
Katie Lynch, who started an ongoing petition to Dartford Council to deny the plans, described the Bluewater trail as a “lifeline for many families during the pandemic.”
She said: “The nature trail is a rare tranquil spot with many memorials to lost love ones and just isn’t an appropriate place for a water park.”
“Not only will this destroy the biodiversity of the lake, it will disrupt and discourage the surrounding wildlife and increase the traffic and pollution to our already heaving road network.”
Katie said the inflatables would cause damage to nine species of bat, 40 species of creepy crawlies, countless fish and nesting herons, geese, ducks and swans.
The petition saw 8,600 signatures before the application was withdrawn, with Katie declaring “victory” on March 26 after the application was withdrawn.
“I cannot thank each of you enough for your support and do not fear I will be on the look out for any future applications!”
Dartford Council and Cllr Kite said the new challenge would be to find new, more appropriate locations and ventures which the council could support.
A spokesperson for Bluewater Shopping Centre said: “We are aware that Aqua Parcs has decided to withdraw their planning application.
“We support this decision, although this is tinged with a little sadness.
“Our mission at Bluewater is to provide fantastic experiences for all our guests and we firmly believe that the Aqua Parcs’ offer supports this mission, and that everything was done to ensure there would be no impact on the environment from this temporary attraction.
“That said, we know how important Bluewater and its outside spaces are to our guests and the wider community, and the important role it plays in the health and mental wellbeing of those who have been able to visit, particularly through this last year.
“We would again like to thank those of you who have reached out to share your feedback.”