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Sale of Hadlow Group's Betteshanger Park in Deal yet to be agreed

ByEleanor Perkins

The sale of a former colliery is yet to be agreed, according to staff.

Hadlow Group, which owns Betteshanger Park in Deal, expressed its intention to dispose of the 422-acre site by the end of July following its financial crisis.

But while staff understand "plans are progressing", one member told KentOnline they are not aware of who could take over.

Betteshanger Park in Deal
Betteshanger Park in Deal

Hadlow Group has not responded to our requests for a comment.

Issues with the group first came to light in February when it suspended both its chief executive Paul Hannan and deputy chief executive Mark Lumsdon-Taylor amidst an investigation into its finances.

The Education Skills Funding Agency then reported the group was in "inadequate financial health".

A further development saw the college became the first in the UK to be placed into educational administration.

The site of Kent Mining Museum pictured in 2016 which is now 85% complete
The site of Kent Mining Museum pictured in 2016 which is now 85% complete

These financial woes brought a cloud over the £40 million scheme to turn the former coal mine into a sustainable energy park and mining museum.

It meant work was stopped on the first phase of the plans - the £9.5 million museum. Instead the attraction which was scheduled to have opened in March has been left 85% finished.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke stepped in to organise a series of talks to discuss the future of the museum.

Richard Morsley of Betteshanger Parks and MP Charlie Elphicke
Richard Morsley of Betteshanger Parks and MP Charlie Elphicke

But the government’s position has been that the Betteshanger site cannot be considered educational provision, and would therefore not be funded to completion.

The site was acquired in 2013 from the Homes and Communities Agency, now Homes England, at a cost of £1 per title for Betteshanger Country Park and Betteshanger Business Park across the road at the former pit head.

At the time of the sale, a covenant was put in place to ensure it remains a country park, it is understood.

Quinn Estates is one of several organisations interested in purchasing the site.

The developer has scrapped its plans to build 3,750 new homes around Northbourne, and has said it will shift its attention to the land surrounding Betteshanger Country Park.

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