Plans to turn Snowdown Colliery in Aylesham into business and leisure park

An entrepreneur says he intends to use the humble honey bee as the catalyst for a major redevelopment of the former Snowdown Colliery in Aylesham.

Local businessman Patrick K Murfet plans to transform the 100-acre site, bringing a business facility to sit alongside a country park offering facilities for events and glamping.

As well as providing an international centre for research and development into the health and welfare of the honey bee - seen as so essential to our eco-system.

Patrick K Murfet, director of Bee Equipment
Patrick K Murfet, director of Bee Equipment

The project would see it renamed Snowdown Park.

The leader of Dover District Council described the plans as "visionary".

Mr Murfet, is currently director of Bridge-based Bee Equipment Ltd, supplying beekeeping equipment for commercial and individual customers.

The colliery, between Dover and Canterbury, has stood abandoned for more than 30 years, since it was closed down in 1987.

The plans would include the Bee Yard - the working title given to the top portion of the site, close to the former colliery buildings. It will encompass the business park element of the proposal with the remainder forming a new country park and visitor attraction to be known as Snowdown Park with a focus on attracting nature-lovers and educating visitors about the work of the bee.

Some of the original colliery buildings would be restored as a heritage site.

Snowdon Colliery
Snowdon Colliery

Mr Murfet said: “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.”

Honey bee will be a key focus of park plans
Honey bee will be a key focus of park plans

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.”

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