Milton Creek Country Park
|Milton Creek Country Park|
|OS grid||TQ 912 653|
|Area||128 acres (52 ha)|
|Created||2011(Was Church Marshes in 2001)|
|Operated by||Swale Council,|
|Open||7 days a week, dawn until dusk|
|Website||- Swale Council Milton Creek Project|
Church Marshes is at the base of Kemsley Down (hills near Kemsley), on the banks of Milton Creek at its estuary with the River Swale, which acts as a boundary with the Isle of Sheppey. It's partly due to these two navigable waters that link directly to the River Thames and its estuary across the English Channel to Europe, that has formed the marshes and nearby locations their rich history. The marshes are named after Holy Trinity Church in Milton Regis. (See Milton Regis for more details on the church).
The site of the country park has been used since early times and archaeological evidence has been dated to show that, Saxon and Roman Britain settlements were present in the vicinity. Holy Trinity Church and Castle Rough are the last remaining local historical features.
In the Victorian era, the region was used for barge-building and gravel extraction for brick-making. Barges transported the bricks to London and returned with London’s domestic waste to be buried at the site. Churchfield Wharf, was also formerly the site of a ship breaking company.
It was a former brick and gravel pit, the area became a landfill site, which closed in 1973. After the site closed, it needed remedial work due to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, so jointly with Swale Council, Groundwork Kent & Medway and Rural Arising Ltd (a firm of engineers and ecologists, who specialise in urban regeneration of landfill sites and other similar industrial sites). Rural Arising Ltd with Groundwork Kent and Medway and Sittingbourne Community College, also provided training and education to a group of 15-16 year olds.
The main purpose of the country park was to create a safe and exciting green space which meets the needs of a predominantly urban population within a countryside setting rich in biodiversity. Groundwork started work in 2001. The project took place over eight phases, and includes; dealing with the Contamination and Landfill Gases, Wildlife Conservation Works Planting of trees, scrubs, pond-side and meadow plants, Construction of paths, picnic/play areas, etc.
When Swale Council started planning for the Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road (SNRR) which passes on the northern boundary of the park near Church Wharf on Milton Creek, they decided to increase the size of the park in 2008 to incorporate the Saxon Shore Way (running along the Milton Creek), which links Sittingbourne town centre to the renamed Milton Creek Country Park. It was renamed in 2009. The path passes through a sequence of viewpoints, one at each of the historic wharves along the creek. Including Grandsdens Wharf, Eastwoods’ Wharf and Church Wharf. The aim of the project is to provide a ‘green heart’ for Sittingbourne.
Creating the park has cost £2.25 million – £2 million of which was Thames Gateway cash awarded via the Homes and Communities Agency. The rest was donated by Kent County Council. Depending on the outcome of the government's spending review next month, Swale Council may be able to apply for more funding that will allow the park to be extended along the coast towards Sheppey.
Various artist have been commissioned to create various works to promote the country park.
On the 4th June 2012, the Milton Creek Country Park will celebrate its official opening with the Big Lunch.
A new carpark on Saffron Way will be finished in 2012.
Now that the Northern Relief Road is complete, Kent County Council are starting works on the Churchfield Wharf site which is located next to the new road bridge. This work will involve landscaping the area to provide a 'mini-destination' next to the creek.
The 'sandscape' area has been designed for toddlers and has slides, a bridge and a large seat for parents. The 'marshland' space, has been primarily designed for older children,it features a 7m space-net, reminiscent of the rigging on barges that travelled on the creek. The hill is a place where teenagers can sit.
Working with Kent Wildlife Trust, the various groups have created ecological habitats for several rare/uncommon creatures, including Great Crested Newt and the Shrill Carder Bee. Other wildlife found within the park included Common Lizard, Colias (Clouded Yellow Butterfly), Glow Worms and Slow Worms.
A small orchard,which was ‘lost’, now being restored as a feature of the park.
The park can be accessed in various ways, Via;Kemsley Recreation Ground, Grovehurst Road, Newman Drive (as it turns into Recreation Way), Walsby Drive (in the housing estate), Miller Close (in the housing estate), Green Porch Close (by Holy Trinity Church), Gas Road (by CPM - formerly Milton Pipes) and via the Northern Relief Road.