CHATHAM

Controversial fountain scrapped from revamp of The Paddock, Chatham

17 September 2023In Chatham3 Minutes
The proposed water feature for The Paddock in Chatham. Photo: Medway Council

A planned water feature that divided opinion will no longer be installed at a park in Chatham town centre.

The Paddock, located between Chatham Waterfront Bus Station and the Pentagon Centre, is currently undergoing a £2 million makeover.

The revamp would have included a water jet fountain, but it has since been dropped by Medway Council due to its £400,324 installation cost.

Construction work at The Paddock

Despite the council claiming that the fountain would have contributed to a “calm and relaxing environment”, it did not prove popular in two rounds of consultation before the park’s makeover began.

Just 47% of respondents said a fountain was “highly important/important” in a survey between December 2021 and January 2022, while only 54% of respondents supported the fountain in another survey last July.

Its future maintenance costs, which the council remained tight-lipped on during the consultations, was a key concern among residents and councillors.

The cost was estimated at around £42,426 per annum over a 10-year period, according to a Freedom of Information request by Future Medway.

This estimate took into account replacement parts, utility costs – including market fluctuations – and information provided by suppliers.

A CGI of how The Paddock could look after improvements. Photo: Medway Council

The council was working on a maintenance strategy for the fountain, which would have been switched off if there was a need to save money or to use the space for outdoor events.

Now the council plans to use the money allocated for the fountain to create alternative designs for the space it would have occupied.

During a meeting of the council’s regeneration, culture and environment overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, 21 March, Cllr Lauren Edwards (Labour) raised concerns about the fountain.

At the time she said: “I think it [the improvements] will be a great addition but the area I did have a concern over was the fountain.

“It’s all very well bidding for these one-off, small pots of money that we have from the government – an approach I don’t entirely agree with – but when there’s ongoing costs, they really need to be factored into the decision-making process and when we did the site visit, nobody was able to tell me how much the ongoing costs will be for that fountain.”

The Paddock’s makeover includes new seating and planted areas, redesigned paths and entrances, better lighting and a small ‘amphitheatre’.

Work is due to be completed by the end of March next year.

The project is being funded by the government’s Future High Streets Fund and delivered by contractor Blakedown Landscapes.