Published: 06:00, 08 December 2019
Hundreds of homes could to be built around Betteshanger Park near Deal but people don't need to be nervous, the boss of new owner Quinn Estates says.
Mark Quinn told KentOnline acquisition of the site was “a natural fit" for his firm "if we do get some development” nearby.
In August he scrapped plans to build 3,750 new homes around Northbourne, stating the company would shift its attention to a ‘significantly smaller and more sustainable development around Betteshanger Country Park’.
Now he has revealed he is specifically interested in the area that leads from Sholden Fields up towards Betteshanger Park, one side of Cottington Lakes, and the land between the park and the recent Persimmon development.
But he is assuring people that a covenant is in place preventing any homes being built at the park.
He said: “This land is most suitable as it’s land closest to train stations and close to the town.
"We think we will come forward with a development and this will help generate great use of the park.”
He said he had previously been approached by Hadlow to acquire the Sustainable Business Park but “nothing really materialised.”
He was then contacted again by agents when the site became available and a “long and detailed” five-month sale ensued.
A link road from Southwall Road to Betteshanger Park roundabout has previously been discussed.
Mr Quinn says new roads would need to be established if more housing was built.
He said: “We need to find ways to ease traffic away from London Road.”
“People don’t need to be nervous about what we’re going to do..." Mark Quinn
He added: “People don’t need to be nervous about what we’re going to do. For us, it’s about creating a really educational sporting, social and leisure hub.
“We want to create something that we want to use as locals every weekend.
“It’s important that what we do here is something we are proud of.”
The new ownership announcement made on Monday ended months of uncertainty for Betteshanger Business Park and Country Park.
The major developer successfully completed the purchase from representatives acting on behalf of The Hadlow Group.
It assures the delivery of a £40 million regeneration project left hanging in the balance after Hadlow Group was placed in educational administration by the government earlier this year.
The new owner will be completing the unfinished construction works, including the Kent Mining Museum and Visitor Centre, which Mr Quinn said will be a main focus next year.
But in the mean time, the country park will be kept open and fully operational, and the community will be asked to share its aspirations for the site.
Mr Quinn has signed a non disclosure agreement prohibiting him from disclosing how much he has paid for the site.
But he told KentOnline: "It wasn't cheap. We've also taken on something that was making a loss."
He claims the park has been losing £300,000-£400,000 a year.
He said: "It's been losing money every day so our job is to make it profitable and sustainable.
"The first thing is to get out and speak to people and ask locals what they want to see at the site. Is it concerts? An indoor play centre? Yoga? Duke of Edinburgh accommodation?
"If we ask people and we provide it, then it should be successful."
Two new recruits have been employed to help steer the new chapter for the park - events manager Stuart O'Leary and park manager Nolan White.
They join the six full-time and two part-time staff already on the site.
Mr Quinn said: "They're going to be rolling their sleeves up, get it looking decent over the next three to four months and start planning for next spring and summer to bring some joy back, get some events on and get people talking about what a brilliant piece of park it is."