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Another step towards the Great Lines City Park

Date: 10/03/2008           Category: Greenspaces

Investigations just started at Chatham’s Fort Amherst could pave the way towards the creation of Medway’s proposed Great Lines City Park – a major green space linking the centres of Gillingham and Chatham. Fort Amherst could become a public entrance to the City Park. But first, an initial survey will determine what work will be required to create and maintain the site as a free-access public park. The survey has been commissioned by the Chatham World Heritage steering group, which is masterminding the bid for World Heritage status for Chatham Historic Dockyard and its defences – including the Great Lines. The survey is being carried out by specialist consultancy The Bailey Partnership and paid for by Medway Council, the South East England Development Agency, English Heritage and the European Union. It marks the start of the proposed park’s third phase: the southern section of the Great Lines that consists of more than 40 hectares of open space and associated fortifications, stretching from Brompton Road and Marlborough Road in Gillingham, to Fort Amherst. Tony Goulden, Chair of Fort Amherst Heritage Trust, said: “We are delighted that Fort Amherst will be making as major a contribution to Chatham’s future as it did to its past. The fort is integral both to the World Heritage Site application, and to the regeneration of Chatham town centre and waterfront. The Great Lines City Park will be a landmark fusion of heritage and regeneration.” Once the foundation work is complete, the steering group will start fund-raising in earnest to pay for the transformation. Thames Gateway has already offered an outline commitment to the Great Lines City Park, but the full project is expected to take more than a decade to complete. Phase One of the City Park – the Lower Lines Park – will be complete in autumn 2009. It will feature restored defensive ditches, pedestrian bridges, and panels depicting the site’s fascinating past, as well as recreational and leisure areas. Work began earlier this year and has been funded by a planning agreement with Mid Kent College. Its opening will coincide with the opening of the college’s new campus at the Lower Lines in autumn 2009. Phase Two is Medway Park, the £11million sporting and activities zone of the Great Lines City Park, which will be complete in 2010. It will see the current Black Lion leisure centre being expanded into a centre of sporting excellence, providing lasting local benefits from the 2012 Olympic Games. It is being paid for by Thames Gateway, Medway Council, and the University of Kent. Notes: The Bailey Partnership is a consultancy established in 1971 that specialises in the design, procurement, management and maintenance of all aspects of the built environment. See www.baileypartnership.co.uk The Great Lines is the name used for both the former Field of Fire and the fortified defences (Chatham Lines) that protected Chatham Dockyard from landward attack. The completeness of Chatham Dockyard and its defences is unparalleled, making it a strong candidate for World Heritage Site status. It has been on the government’s shortlist of potential World Heritage Sites since 1999. CLG states in its Delivery Plan for the Thames Gateway (p56): “We will provide help to finance the bid to Unesco for World Heritage Site status for Chatham Historic Dockyard and surrounding fortifications.”