Proposals to breathe new life into the historic former Dartford home and grounds of entrepreneur Sir Henry Wellcome are to go on display at Dartford Museum.

Dartford Borough Council purchased the former Glaxo Smith Kline staff sports and social club to safeguard it following the closure of the pharmaceutical giant’s Dartford production plant. The Council has already amalgamated acres of sports fields into the town’s hugely popular Central Park but is now launching plans to restore and improve the rest of the site including a number of historic buildings surrounding the Grade II listed Acacia Hall.

Acacia Hall MansionCouncil Leader Jeremy Kite said heritage and history are at the heart of the proposals just as they have been throughout the restoration of Central Park. He said “Integrating the Acacia estate with Central Park and the town centre is pretty much the final part of a ten-year plan to restore some old-fashioned Edwardian elegance to our historic park, gardens and open space.”

“People seem to love the way we have put heritage at the heart of our restoration of Central Park but it’s always been sad to know that there’s a historic mansion house and grounds right next door that is hidden away and crowded by modern buildings. We think the Acacia grounds deserve to be better integrated with the Park, the Mansion House should sit proudly at one side of a new civic square and car parks on the site should be better designed to reflect both their historic setting and the needs of visitors.

“Our plans mean that some of the hotchpotch of late twentieth century buildings on the site will have to go but I think there’s a growing appreciation in society that beautiful and truly historic buildings deserve to be in the right setting. Where we are proposing to take away one modern use, such as the old social club building, we are planning to replace new facilities in a far more appropriate setting elsewhere in the grounds.”

Dartford Borough Council wants local people to take a look at the proposals and contribute their own ideas and suggestions.  “A number of the best ideas for Central Park came directly from park visitors and we’d now like to hear from local people about the proposals for Acacia.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create some very special public space in a truly historic setting.” said Jeremy.

Proposals will be on display at Dartford Museum, Market Street, Dartford on 17th, 18th and 26th January 2017 between 10am and 4pm.