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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 20:27 GMT 21:27 UK
Park plans spark a public inquiry
Central Park
The deal will almost double the size of Dartford's Central Park
Controversial plans to redevelop Dartford town centre in Kent must go before a public inquiry, the government has ruled.

The multi-million pound scheme includes proposals to build a two lane road through Dartford Central Park, hundreds of new homes and a supermarket.

The plans were fiercely opposed by many residents but were approved by Dartford Borough Council last August.

The application has been called in due to the size and scale of the proposals.

'Very serious implications'

Council leader Kenneth Leadbeater said: "The decision by the Office of Deputy Prime Minister to call in the application is not altogether surprising but it does leave the government with a gun at its own head.

"The proposals for Dartford are entirely based on the government's own guidelines for urban housing and town centre renewal.

He said if the plans were rejected the implications for other town centre regeneration schemes could be "very serious".

A protest petition signed by 13,000 people was delivered to Dartford Borough Council and objectors staged a number of marches.

The council says it plans to restore the park to its original splendour, in grand Edwardian style.

It promises additional facilities including sports, social and recreational areas to encourage greater use of the park.

The public inquiry is expected in September.


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