Dartford is set to be the home of one of Britain’s best play spaces with the opening of Buccaneer Bay, a pirate themed play space at the heart of the town’s Central Park. 

The two and a half acre adventure will open early in 2023 and is the latest and biggest play area to be launched by Dartford Borough Council as part of its plan to improve facilities for children and families across the Borough. 

Buccaneer Bay’s young visitors can explore a huge pirate ship, clamber over huge animals in Porpoise Bay and Crab Island before climbing the old lighthouse towering eight meters above the ground.  Young shipmates can take the zip-line over Crocodile Canyon or slide, jump and swing from new play equipment arranged over several islands and playzones.  A new water play feature will be the ideal way to cool off on hot sunny days. 

Leader of the Council Jeremy Kite said “We’ve been working on this plan for many months and we wanted to deliver something very special. The Council is investing in its play spaces all over the borough but Central Park receives more visitors than any other and it was a chance to create a whole adventure to spark the imaginations of our young visitors and provide a great place for families to make memories.”

Inclusive, accessible play is at the heart of the new design,with opportunities for all children to immerse themselves in a big pirate adventure or enjoy the quieter, sensory play zones.

“Accessibility was very important to us,” said Cllr Kite.“Children aren’t all the same and each one deserves to play and learn in a way that’s right for them.  We didn’t want any child to miss out on the chance to play alongside friends and siblings so we’ve created spaces that are open to everyone and for shipmates who like things a little quieter, we’ve created Tranquility Cove.” 

Central Park is a popular destination for family visits, so Buccaneer Bay includes a dedicated picnic area, Pieces of Ate, perfect for sunny days out and close to the Cafe to replenish rations! 

Buccaneer Bay is part of the Council’s commitment to invest more than £2million in a Borough-wide Parks Improvement Project delivered in partnership with play space specialists Kompan. Following recent works to improve spaces at Queen’s Gardens and The Bridge Development, DarenthCountry Park’s newly refurbished play area opened last Thursday (October 27th) and attention now turns to improvements at Hesketh Park, Worcester Park and the first phase of improvements at Jessamine Place.   

Cllr Kite says there will be more new play spaces on the way. 

He said: “We don’t see quality play spaces as just a cost. They are an investment.  Families need places where they can take kids knowing they will be safe and where their imaginations can run riot. Central Park is a very big project because of the huge number of visitors drawn to the town’s major public space but we’re equally committed to the local neighbourhood spaces.  It’s these local facilities that really imprint themselves on the memories of families and we want to deliver the best we can.” 

Central Park’s existing play space will close from November 14 for work to begin.   A Dartford Borough Council spokesperson said that whilst the closure of the space over the winter might be a bit inconvenient the end result will be well worth it.  

Cllr Kite added: “Everyone in the industry connected with the project says it’s going to be something very special indeed and one of the best new play spaces in Britain.   That’s nice to hear but it’s just as important for us that we bring other playgrounds around the Borough with us on this journey. We hope that residents will enjoy the changes ahead.”