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21 July 2016, 12:32 | Updated: 21 July 2016, 12:35
Bluewater Shopping Centre has received a Green Flag award for the first time for its green spaces.
The mall in Bean is one of more than 30 places in Kent and over 1,600 in the country to be honoured by the prestigious scheme run by Keep Britain Tidy. Other areas include Samphire Hoe near the Eurotunnel in Cheriton, Pegwell Bay Country Park in Thanet and Grosvenor and Hilbert Park in Tunbridge Wells
The Award, now celebrating its 20th year, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.
A number of Kent's parks and green spaces have retained flags they were awarded in previous years, including Haysden Country Park on the outskirts of Tonbridge which has one its 11th flag.
Set in a beautiful area of countryside covering about 165 acres in the Medway Valley to the west of Tonbridge, Haysden Country Park includes a new children’s play area, a new jetty at Barden Lake, picnic tables overlooking the lake, and a range of habitats such as grassland, freshwater lakes, marshland and woodland, which are home to a wealth of insects, birds and animals.
The park is a designated Local Nature Reserve and visitors can explore the nature trails that wind through the park. Visitors can also enjoy the park’s play sculptures and an oak sculpture in the Friendship Wood, which commemorates the 25th Anniversary of twinning between Tonbridge and Malling and Heusenstamm.
International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: "We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme, especially as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Awards.
All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the thousands of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award."