Dartford and Greenhithe in the spotlight
PUBLISHED: 09:59 19 December 2012 | UPDATED: 16:39 24 September 2015
Boasting Bluewater, the famous QE2 bridge and Ebbsfleet, with ongoing massive expansion, Dartford and Greenhithe still manage to retain a semi-rural feel
One town that changed the world
Boasting Bluewater, the famous QE2 bridge and Ebbsfleet, with ongoing massive expansion, Dartford and Greenhithe still have a semi-rural feel
Dartford marks where the old London-to-Dover road crossed the River Darent, which flows through town’s magnificent Central Park. It has one of the finest country parks in the south east and a historic town centre, while on its doorstep is Bluewater, one of Europe’s premier shopping centres, and Ebbsfleet Station, with High-Speed trains to London and the continent.
To the north east is Greenhithe, an attractive riverside village that was once a thriving port. Still a village with a church and local amenities, Greenhithe’s disused wharves have been replaced by a burgeoning community and a massive expansion and redevelopment of homes and commercial property.
There are plenty of car parks and no steep hills, and the attractive and compact Dartford town centre is comprised of Spital Street, High Street and Market Street leading off it.
Superb access to London (M25) and the continent, via Ebbsfleet International station
Dartford Borough Museum (01322 224739, DA1 1EU), Orchard Theatre (01322 220000, DA1 1ED), Miskin Theatre (01322 629433, DA1 2JT), Mick Jagger Centre (01322 291100, DA1 2JZ) (dance, theatre, comedy).
Sports and relaxation
Princes Park Community Stadium (01322 299990, DA1 1RT) (see My Town), Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre (01322 224400, DA1 1JB) with a pool, gym, health suite, squash courts, sauna and crèche.
Parks: Central Park (formal gardens, ornamental displays, skatepark), Dartford Heath, Hesketh Park, Darenth Country Park.
Eat and drink
Hilton Dartford Bridge Hotel (01322 284444, DA2 6QF), The Paper Moon (01322 281127, DA1 1DS), Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel (01322 224415, DA1 1DU), The Malt Shovel (01322 224381, DA1 1LP).
One/two bedroom flats, £106,000 and £136,000 respectively, three-bedroom semi, £226,000 and four-bedroom house upwards of £385,000
Clifton and Co estate agents
Clifton Button, managing director of Clifton and Co estate agents (01322 227700, Dartford DA1 1BY), says: “Prices seem to be fairly stable, although sale prices are currently higher than expected. This is a good time to buy – it may well be that prices will never be this low again.
“Typically buyers from the London boroughs relocate here to acquire a semi-rural lifestyle. Property ages are mixed, from Victorian to 1930s, all the way up to the new Greenhithe redevelopment homes. There’s consistent demand for properties within the area – even a cash buyer needs to work hard to find a bargain.
“The most prestigious areas are parts of Wilmington and West Dartford and as for up and coming areas, bearing in mind the future plans for Greenhithe’s redevelopment, that may well be somewhere to focus on.”
Where to shop
In town there’s the Orchard and Priory Shopping Centres, plus plenty of individual retailers, and the High Street has a Farmers’ Market on the third Friday of every month.
Bluewater resembles a huge triangular town, with John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser forming the three anchor stores; these two-storey retailers are joined by shopping malls. There’s also a cinema, boating lake, cycle track, golf course, fishing lake and discovery trail, all surrounded by lakes, parkland and trees. Bluewater's ‘Winter Wonderland’ (ends13 January) has a public skating rink and a snow slide. There are more thann 330 stores and restaurants, including three leisure villages.
Thomas Kinkade International
Alan Hutton runs the Bluewater branch of Thomas Kinkade International (01322 427417), part of a UK franchise authorised to sell limited edition, hand-retouched canvas reproductions of the work of the late American artist Thomas Kinkade, a self-proclaimed ‘painter of light.’ Find this fascinating art gallery in the West Village, near Waterstones and Castle Art Gallery.
“Our part of Bluewater is somewhere to browse in smaller shops, or enjoy a leisurely meal,” says Alan. “It’s a lovely place to work – the staff all know one another and there’s a companionable matey spirit, us retailers feel as if we’re part of a small but very interesting community.
“Our customers are of all types and respond to the sheer ‘accessibility’ of Thom’s work – his winter scenes are always popular and the youngsters especially love his Disney creations. We have lots of regular customers popping in to say hello and view the paintings – many of them have become very good friends.”
This refers to the major developments in the Dartford and Gravesham areas in the northern parts of the boroughs, between the A2 and the Thames, and is part of the government-backed Thames Gateway Masterplan.
Longer-term plans include the building of 22,600 homes and a million square metres of commercial development across the Kent Thameside area over the next 20 years (this includes the redevelopment in the Gravesham area, covered in Kent Life November 2012). Planned also are road improvements and the reconstruction of major parts of Dartford town itself.
Ingress Park is an upmarket residential development in 72 acres of landscaped grounds, set around the restored historic Ingress Abbey, within walking distance of Greenhithe station.
Waterstone Park is a 20-acre development of one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom houses and The Bridge is a mixed-use business and innovation park, with 1.8 million square feet of commercial space and new homes of varying sizes: 1500 are planned, many now complete.
Eastern Quarry is where 1,500 homes are due to be built by 2020; construction should begin later this year. Northern Gateway is another area scheduled for redevelopment. The construction of Paramount Theme Park, backed by Hollywood Studios Paramount Pictures, has been proposed for the Swanscombe Peninsula and is envisaged to be Europe’s largest indoor water park, with theatres, live music venues, attractions, cinemas, restaurants, event space and hotels.
Dartford is on Kent’s northern border, just outside greater London, with central London 12 miles away. It is on the A2, linking London with Dover, accessible via junction 2 of the M25. There are excellent rail links to London and Kent, and Ebbsfleet International station (four miles away) has High-Speed links to London and the continent. The Fastrack bus service is extremely efficient.
Satnav postcode: is DA1 1DE
Nicola Collet, general manager Dartford Football Club
Tell us about DFC
DFC is the managing agent for the Princes Park Community Stadium, where the club is based. The Darts moved into the magnificent ecologically built stadium in 2006. The semi-professional club was founded in 1888 and has been Southern League Champions and Kent Senior Cup Winners a number of times. The stadium has a clubhouse, function rooms and bar, a community pitch, public plaza and gardens and it’s also home to Princes Golf, whose course is open to the public, as is The Champions Bar.
Tell us about your job
I’m responsible for the daily operation of DFC, overseeing the running of the stadium, my primary objective being to secure income and sponsorships for the Football Club and to form associations with our local business colleagues and to profile ‘The Princes Park Experience’.
What do you like about your work?
I’ve been very touched by the passion and dedication of some local individuals, and the fantastic kind people who have supported us. I feel I’ve become part of the DFC family and have played a part in its history.
Are you a football fan?
Definitely. This is my club, my boys! My 10-year-old son plays in the squad for the Dartford District Football team.
What do you like about Dartford?
It has a semi-rural feel, and there’s a good community.
Any favourite places?
Dartford Country Park: on a summer’s day you can sit here and just absorb the surrounding beautiful countryside.
Favourite cycle ride or walk?
My family enjoy cycling around Darenth, through Hawley and around Dartford. In summer we walk around Dartford Lakes and chill out in Dartford Park.
Dartford and DFC in a sentence?
An old market town with a rich industrial heritage, true camaraderie, pride and passion from the Dartford people, and local business especially have continued to make DFC grow and succeed.