Planning application has been submitted for a new ‘Aqua Park’ by Bluewater Shopping Centre, but wildlife campaigners are fighting the plans, claiming they will ruin a well-loved wildlife spot.
The water park would be temporary, popping up in summer months, and would include a large inflatable obstacle course set up in the middle of a lake in Greenhithe.
Protestors say the plans will 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.”
The planning application for the ‘Aqua Park’ was submitted on Friday, March 5, and validated five days later, but a decision is still yet to be made.
Located at Lake Five at Bluewater Shopping Centre, the plans describe the construction of an aqua park for temporary use between July and October 2021 and May to October 2022.
This includes 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 will cause damage to nine species of bat, 40 species of creepy crawlies, countless fish and nesting herons, geese, ducks and swans.
“Please sign this petition in a bid to convince Dartford Council to reject this application and ask Aqua Parks to consider locating their water park somewhere more appropriate.”
The petition has gathered over 6,000 signatures to date.
The Environment Agency said they did not have any objections, although asserted that water quality of lakes should not be impacted and all drainage kept clear of the lake.
The planning application states that the proposals will make use of an under-used part of the Bluewater site, and enhance its role as a regional shopping centre.
“The proposed development will provide a unique offer to Dartford and Bluewater as a whole which is important for its competitiveness and offer as a regional shopping centre.”
They anticipate that 30,000 guests will visit Aqua Park in year one, and 36,000 in year two, also creating 30 jobs.