Betteshanger slag heap showing debris

A Brief History

1989 Betteshanger colliery closes.

2000 Regeneration begins under South East England Development Agency. Spoil tip to become country park. Pit head area for light industrial use.

2002 DDC includes policy AS2 in local plan to protect the park as green space for “low key recreational uses such as walking and cycling. “

2004 DDC grants planning permission to SEEDA for regeneration, including visitor centre and mining museum S 106 agreement obliges DDC to designate the park as a Local Nature Reserve. This never happened.

2007 Betteshanger Country Park (Fowlmead) opened by David Bellamy.


  • Miner statue, including plaque, dedicated to miners who died cutting coal in the Kent coalfields, placed at the park’ s entrance.
  • Policy AS2 included in the 2010 local plan as a saved policy.
  • Policy AS2 included in the 2010 local plan as a saved policy.
  • Government abolishes SEEDA. Park to be transferred to new owners.

2013 Hadlow College buys both sites for El from Homes England. A covenant is attached to the transfer, restricting use to Country Park.

2019 Hadlow goes into administration. Country Park sold for E746,394(inc.vat). Pit head area (Betteshanger Sustainable Park) sold for €1,465,000.

2020 Friends of Betteshanger formed to protect the green spaces and wildlife of both sites.

2021 DDC grants outline planning permission to Quinn Estates for housing on the pit head area (Betteshanger Sustainable Park).

2022 Planning applications submitted for surf lagoon complex and hotel complex at Betteshanger Country Park


From 2000 onwards, local people worked first with SEEDA and then Hadlow College, with the full support of DDC to create a country park and nature reserve, where there was once a spoil tip. Millions in public money was invested in planting 130,000 trees and shrubs, creating access roads and facilities. Nature thrived.

In 2002 a S106 agreement attached to the original planning application: 02/00905 obliged the Council and the owners to designate the whole park as a Local Nature Reserve. This never happened and the Council is unable to explain why.

DDC however, did protect the park through planning policy AS2 in both the 2002 and the 2010 Local Plans. It stated that “low-key recreation uses will be permitted, provided that nature-conservation interests are safeguarded (and ) there is no damage to the ecological value of the site.”

Hadlow College acquired the park in 2013, with the same intention to declare the park a Local Nature Reserve. The permitted uses of the park were guaranteed by a restrictive covenant on the deed of sale.

The same restrictive covenant applied when Quinn Estates bought the park in 2019. Even though DDC policy hasn’t changed since 2002, local people started to worry. Was the park safe? Then came the applications for a surf lagoon/hotel complex.

It should be noted that in the emerging local plan the park is described as a ‘semi-natural open space’ under the heading Protected Open Space, in the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy Evidence Report. May 2022. DD policy supports new hotels accessible to amenities in local towns to encourage visitors. It rules out poorly-sited hotels which are too far from settlements, such as the hotel proposed in the park.

The business model for the park is based on maximising visitor spending on accommodation, surf lagoon, restaurants, ban, cafes, beauty and spa treatments, corporate facilities, music and other events. These will take custom away from local businesses, many of which are struggling to survive in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising operational costs. The types of jobs on offer will be largely low-paid and seasonal. LL7 On the grounds above, and all others listed in this brochure, we would urge Dover District Council to reject both planning applications.