A £5 million project to transform a major landmark in the town centre has been given the go ahead by planners. Dartford council is to redevelop the events venue, Acacia Hall, off Dartford High Street, keeping as much of its history as possible while upgrading facilities.
The interior dates back to the 19th century, alongside the Coach House and a property known as Building D. The building’s vacant ballroom, squash court, boiler house, ground’s maintenance room office, garage, staff facilities, tennis courts and playground will all be demolished.
The mansion house, marquee and stables will be retained while the council refurbishes and adds alterations to the Darent Suite and Building D. The sports hall, Coach House and external areas will be changed to function as a venue and leisure area. There will also be alterations to the parking layout which sees the introduction of 90 new bays.
Access to the venue will be opened up with two bridges for vehicles, one pedestrian bridge and new access routes to Market Street and Darenth Road. Other alterations include external lighting, replacing the vicarage wall, re-planting, refuse store, alterations to Market Street’s boundary, the relocation of ponds, and the removal of trees.
A consultation which asked the public what should be done with the building was held at the end of last year. Council leader Jeremy Kite said:
“I know we had a really successful exhibition in the town and we said to people we know there’s been a long delay but they are all now going to happen. The Acacia complex is a hidden gem for Dartford. We are very grateful for the comments from residents in relation to the consultation. I think it’s a really good start and I’m delighted that we are finally moving ahead with it.”
Acacia Hall was used as a makeshift replacement for Dartford library as it underwent its own extensive refurbishment thanks to £650,000 from Kent County Council. The council bought the site from pharmaceutical firm Wellcome in 2005 and has already built an outdoor theatre.by