Work at the £40m Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project, on the site of the former Betteshanger Colliery near Deal, is building momentum.
Led by the Hadlow Group, a new £8m Visitor Centre, including the Kent Mining Museum and Green Energy Centre, is due to open at the country park site in 2018. In readiness for the launch of the state-of-the-art new facilities a programme of site-wide improvement work is being implemented.
Work commenced on site in March to develop a new open air grass amphitheatre. The 3-acre event space, representing a £70,000 investment, will have a capacity of up to 3,000 people. It will be used for open air theatre, cinema, market days and special events. As a former colliery, the site itself provided ample coal spoil for the base of the structure. Aylesham-based construction company Ovenden has then capped with clay for stability and covered in a layer of top soil. It will be seeded with a deep rooted grass mix. Work will be complete this month and the space will be open for use from 2018— allowing essential time for the grass to establish.
Ashford-based agricultural specialist White Land Solutions has landscaped the area to the rear of the play park. The site has been shaped and will be seeded. This will extend the grass area around the play area, making an open green space for play outside the new Visitor Centre.
Further investment has been made in two giant Scandinavian-style tipis. Sitting proudly on top of the hill, the tipis will provide an allweather temporary event space for the 2017 season. Forming the core of a new festival village for the spring and summer programme, the tipis will be joined by local food and drink stalls during busy periods.
In partnership with Kent Wildlife Trust a long-term management and conservation plan is being developed for the Park. Work has started on Tenant Pond to landscape it into a wildlife pond.
The opening of the new Visitor Centre and improved Park facilities is the first phase of the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks development. Phase II will see ‘Betteshanger Business’ developed on the site of the former colliery pit head. Betteshanger Business will become a bespoke green technologies park of exemplary low carbon buildings for companies in health and wellbeing, food security, environmental technology, life sciences and green technology.
The first phase ‘Health Care Enterprise Incubation Hub’ is planned for development in 2018, opening early 2019. An application will be submitted to the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) shortly.
Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Deputy Group Principal and Deputy CEO, Hadlow Group said: “Our aim is to make Betteshanger the UK’s first destination to celebrate the evolution of energy, from its heritage to future energy sources in all its forms within unrivalled, state of the art facilities. The recent developments for both parts of the Betteshanger site marks the start of the exciting build up towards the launch of the full Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project.”
“Using local suppliers and contractors means we maximise the impact of the project for the local economy and keep the environmental footprint of the project as small as possible, which is fundamental to what we are seeking to achieve at Betteshanger.”
Richard Morsley, Director, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, said: “We appreciate some of the recent work has caused a small amount of disruption to our regular visitors but we have carefully programmed the work to ensure it has minimal impact. We ask that visitors bear with us, we are undertaking a big project and there will be disruptive phases. We are extremely excited about Betteshanger’s future and, once complete, the new facilities will make a significant improvement to the quality of the visitor experience.”
To find out more about the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project visit betteshanger.wpengine.com