I was given a tour of Betteshanger Park's new Visitor Centre ahead of its opening later this year. Construction restarted in September at the Hadlow Group-owned Sandwich Road site, where the £9.5m building taking shape is as long as London's iconic Gherkin tower is tall.
Set among the 250-acre country park, it will eventually be home to Kent Mining Museum, a green energy centre, cycle hire and change facilities, learning and conference spaces, a shop, a café and outside seating and decking. There will also be new mining-themed play equipment to extend the existing play area, and Hadlow College's award-winning RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show garden 'Green Seam'.
I was shown around by project director Richard Morsley, development co-ordinator Tamasin Jarrett and head of heritage and visitor experience Darran Cowd. Things are really starting to take shape – and what a wonderful space it will be. There will be a variety of activities for people of all ages to enjoy. That's alongside fascinating local history, a proper tribute to the brave mineworkers of the Dover and Deal area. The team is moving things forward brilliantly. The project is yet another sign of the sort of investment we are now getting around here.
The £9.5 million scheme to transform the 121-hectare derelict colliery was brought to a halt last year due to problems building on a spoil heap. But work restarted in September and director Richard Morsley, who helped deliver the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, insists it is now progressing apace. He said the building will be opened to the public towards the end of 2018.
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