Former East Kent Colliery Vision: Artisan Business Park & Cultural Destination
01 May 2018
Fabrik are involved in an exciting new project to transform a former East Kent colliery into an environmentally-friendly hub for start-up businesses, artisan producers, research and innovation, while at the same time creating an authentic and unique rural visitor attraction.
Snowdown Colliery closed as a working coal mine in 1987. Since then, the 100-acre site has cut a forlorn figure in the rural landscape between Dover and Canterbury.
Now, 31 years later, fabrik are working alongside Porta Planning, CBRE and TPHS to prepare a masterplan which breathes new life into the colliery site and sees it reborn as Snowdown Park. A wide range of jobs, skills-based training, education and research opportunities will be created, alongside a new country park visitor destination for glamping, events and staycations, all providing a huge boost to the local economy and the environment.
Unlocking Snowdown’s potential while creating a genuine buzz at the heart of this ambitious transformation of a long-neglected corner of East Kent’s industrial heritage will be those much-loved friends of the earth…honey bees. Local businessman and entrepreneur, Patrick K Murfet, Director of Bee Equipment Ltd, is spear-heading the dynamic and environmentally-focused Snowdown Park project. Currently based in the nearby village of Bridge, Kent, Bee Equipment Ltd manufacture and supply beekeeping equipment for commercial operations and individual apiarists across the UK, mainland Europe and beyond.
A unique combination of nature, heritage and business innovation are the driving forces behind the plans for Snowdown Park. ‘The Bee Yard’ is the working title given to the business park element of the scheme, with the remainder of the site forming the new country park and visitor attraction: Snowdown Park.
The Bee Yard will bring a much-needed hub for creative and artisan businesses, as well as providing an international centre for research and development into the health and welfare of the honey bee to the region.
The heritage of the former colliery will be seamlessly woven into the new scheme; the site has a number of buildings of interest, which it is hoped can be brought back to life, preserving the iconic character of the site in a revitalised natural setting that is economically viable.
The natural landscape and topography of the former colliery will be integral to the sympathetic development of Snowdown Park. Once open, lovers of wildlife will be able to learn about bees and beekeeping, while enjoying the huge diversity of flora and fauna on the site, which will be key elements of its appeal for visitors.
The aspiration is for Snowdown Park to become a magnet for nature-lovers and creatives, with opportunities for glamping, staycations and all kinds of events, once East Kent’s most exciting and original working-park development is up and running.
Patrick K Murfet said:
“We are really excited about the opportunities for job creation and recreation that our unique development of Snowdown Park at the former Snowdown Colliery site offers.
We have been working with the Coal Authority, the Plumptre Trust and Dover District Council on these exciting plans at the old Snowdown Colliery site for three years, and as everything starts to come to fruition we couldn’t be happier. All parties are supportive of the scope of the development, knowing that the site will be imaginatively and sympathetically reworked for a new generation.
We aim to contain the redevelopment of the site to about 30 per cent of the total acreage, retaining and working with the site’s original landscape where possible.
After all this time, we are looking forward to the start of a new and positive chapter for the Snowdown Colliery site.”
Cllr Keith Morris, Leader of Dover District Council, said:
“This is a visionary project to bring the former Snowdown Colliery site back into economic and recreational use, playing its part in the exciting regeneration and investment programme driving new jobs and opportunities in the Dover district.
The team at the Bee Yard at Snowdown Park are creating a real buzz around beekeeping, at a time when we’re starting to realise just how important bees are to world food supply.
Snowdown Park, together with Discovery Park and the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks form a world-class cluster of environmental and life-science businesses.
At the same time, Snowdown Park will be open to the public, providing an excellent outdoor facility for local people and visitors alike to enjoy.”
Becky Sanders, Director of Urban Design and Placemaking, said:
“fabrik are delighted to be working with Bee Equipment Ltd and the Coal Authority on such an exciting and visionary project. The Bee Yard and Snowdown Park will offer a unique visitor experience, whilst simultaneously respecting the site’s coal mining heritage and its unusual landscape setting.”