IT’S not surprising that parents worry about children spending too long on their screens and too little time playing outside. Research suggests that not only is the average child heavier, weaker and less fit than 18 years ago1, but just 22% of children take enough exercise outside of school, spending around four hours a day on screen compared with only an hour and half in active play2. In fact, shocking figures3 suggest that three quarters of British children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates!

Add to that worries about mental health of young people spending all their time on social media4 and it’s clear that developments where children can safely play and roam have a big part to play in improving the health of the next generation.

One place where children are happily enjoying the great outdoors is Fernham Homes’ Empire Park development at Greenhithe, part of the exciting new Ebbsfleet Garden City masterplan. It’s where Vikki Goodwin, 34, and her children Eve and Logan, aged six and two, have made their new home – and former teacher Vikki is delighted at how the move will help her children to have freer and more active lives.

“We used to live in Swanley, which is only 10 minutes’ drive away, but it’s nowhere near such a nice area. I didn’t want to stay there as the kids got older, as I knew I would always be worrying about their safety,” she says. “The whole environment is so much better at Empire Park. I’ve already met the neighbours, and it’s lovely to see all the children playing together outside, running in and out of each other’s houses and being able to go out on their scooters and bikes in a safe environment. Our big garden is also perfect for the kids, and seeing them running around happily out there makes me confident that I made the right choice to move here.”

Vikki, who now works as an administrator for a stonework and restoration company and as a personal organiser in her spare time, sold a three-bedroom semi-detached home and upsized to a four-bedroom detached property at Empire Park. She liked the Ebbsfleet Garden City area, but found that some of the developments were rather too large and impersonal for her taste. Instead, she loved Fernham’s more human scale, with just 28 new homes, as well as the personal touch from sales staff who helped her to sell and complete on the new property in a whistlestop 10 weeks.

Because she bought her property at an early stage, Vikki was able to personalise aspects of it to her taste. For example, she could choose the colours of her kitchen, with grey gloss and a geometric patterned floor, to make the heart of the house just the way she liked it.

As well as the gardens and green areas at Empire Park itself, Ebbsfleet Garden City as a whole has seven different parks with impressive views and new Thames-side walkways that will give the public access to the waterfront for the first time in more than a century. Beacon Wood Country Park and Swanscombe Heritage Park are also close by, offering lots more possibilities for youngsters to let off steam. Bluewater shopping centre is just two miles away and has 300 shops, 50 restaurants, a 17-screen cinema and an adventure park and soft play for the kids.

Homes at Empire Park are selling fast, thanks not only to the green spaces, but also the great location, just 10 minutes’ drive from Ebbsfleet International station. As well as direct links into Europe, the station also offers high speed services into central London taking from just 17 minutes. The stations of Greenhithe and Swanscombe, which also offer trains into the capital, are within walking distance, and there’s a new network of cycle paths, bus routes and walkways that have been designed as part of the Government’s Healthy New Towns initiative at Ebbsfleet.

Lynne Smith, Head of Sales & Marketing at Fernham Homes, comments: “Empire Park has so much to offer families who are looking for a healthier lifestyle with plenty of outdoor space, but need to be within easy reach of London. The commute is short, giving families more time to spend together, and the house prices are a pleasant surprise in comparison with the London market – house hunters will be amazed how much space they get for their money here.”

The development at Empire Park features a mix of detached and semi-detached three, four and five-bedroom homes, all with their own gardens, complete with turf and patio, and either garages or parking spaces. Inside, the homes include Bosch integrated appliances in the kitchens, energy-efficient boilers and elegant bathrooms. Homes start from £420,000 for a three-bedroom house, with Help to Buy available. For more information, or to arrange an appointment to visit the show suite, call 01322 472 917 or visit