If you've been following the news for the past 24 hours and you're in the South-East of England you may have heard about the proposal for planning permission for a £2b Paramount theme park. What's wrong with that? you may ask, and fair enough, except that this park which, if it goes ahead, will be twice the size of the Olympic village at the centre of an 872 acre plot right on my doorstep.
Our first reaction when my husband and I discovered the news was to laugh. Hard. A theme park? In Swanscombe? Are they having a laugh? If you've never had the joys of spending time in this area of North Kent, you really aren't missing much. We live in what's now called a "commuter town", somewhat abandoned following the long gone days of the chalk mines which now stand as ghostly, overgrown pits. We sit in the middle of Dartford and Gravesend as a little grey town. Nothing much happens here. For all its bad points though, there is something I dearly love about our area which still shows little glimpses of the town it once was, from the 1920s park where I take my son to play sometimes, St Peter & Paul's church with its Saxon origins and the traces left behind by the cement industry and the miners-including the "cottage" we live in now. I feel quite at home in an industrial wasteland, imagining what once was.
|The proposed site for the park, on Swanscombe Penninsula|
via ITV News
I worry for the surrounding scrub land which will undoubtedly be needed for the development and the destruction of natural habitats that provide homes for our local wildlife. What impact will a development on this scale (said to become the fourth largest theme park in the world) have on the locality? Will people be forced to move? or will Paramount handle this with sensitivity and recruit the unemployed (of which there are innumerable amounts) to fill some 27,000 potential jobs available before outsourcing elsewhere? Perhaps the influx of business to the area will bring a new sense of pride to Swanscombe and Ebbsfleet.
For now though, those questions remain unanswered and, as someone soon to move away from the area, I'm glad I don't have to watch it fall apart.
Are you local to Kent? or have you experienced large scale developments close to home? How have they affected you and do you feel they were positive on the whole?
Want to read more?
This Is Money
BBC News Kent