Military site could see public park

A 40ha green space project aiming to turn former military land in Kent into a World Heritage Site is getting underway.

A survey on the possibility of creating a public entrance to the Great Lines City Park at Chatham's Fort Amherst began last week. The fort is tipped to become the welcoming point for the open space, which links Chatham with Gillingham. The survey will determine what work is required to create the site as a free-access public park.

Medway Council is involved in planning the park, and representative Stephen Hannington said the survey was an important milestone.He added that the scheme aims to get thousands of people from Medway to use the park, but said it was still in the early stages.

According to Medway Council, the plans for creating a high-quality public park might include wildlife areas with orchids, cowslips and clovers, a large landscaped area, paths, public art and an adventure playground. A restoration of the Lower Lines Park with Section 106 funding from Mid Kent College and the £11m revamp of Medway Park as a sporting and activities zone are also envisioned.

He said: "The area at the moment is a green space that is just not well set up for visitors.

"It's pretty much untended grassland and because it was military land it wasn't laid out with a view to making it easy to get into, which is one of the main issues to be addressed."

The Great Lines, including the Chatham Dockyard and fortified defences, has been on the government's shortlist of potential World Heritage Sites since 1999.

The proposed World Heritage Site status will be discussed further in May at a meeting to develop an action plan to get the historic dockyard and its fortifications recognised.

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