An updated plan for development including a hotel and an acre of vertical farming – growing produce in vertically stacked layers -is to be drawn up for the Discovery Park site in Sandwich.
A new masterplan will be submitted to Dover District Council before the end of the year outlining proposals for 14.5 acres of manufacturing space, 60,000 sq ft of office space, 50,000 sq ft of lab space, the acre of vertical farming, eight shops, a hotel, a restaurant, a pub and a petrol station. It will be in addition to 500 homes which have already been approved.
The masterplan will replace those submitted in 2013/ 2014 and approved in 2015. These covered three already approved applications:
An outline application to provide a foodstore with associated car park and petrol filling station, 4,830 sq m of retail (A1) floorspace. Since planning permission was granted however, Sainsbury’s pulled out of the proposals.
An outline application for redevelopment of the site including demolition of some existing buildings, change of use of some existing buildings, provision of new commercial uses and the development of 500 homes.
A full application for erection of industrial units (B2) use with ancillary offices providing 2,059 sq m of general industrial floorspace.
The updated plan extends the science provision on site and has the addition of shops and a hotel. Discovery Park bosses are in the process of finalising and assessing what is viable before agreeing final proposals for submission to DDC
Toby Hunter, CEO of Discovery Park, said: “Discovery Park is a national asset and one of the best equipped life science facilities in Europe. We’ve got exciting plans to reconfigure and refurbish space to meet the needs of businesses relocating to Sandwich, including restoring Building 500.
“Our wider mixed-use plans include residential and commercial development that will build on this iconic site’s legacy as a global hub for science and innovation, and a vital contributor to the regional and UK economy.
“We already have planning permission for 500 new homes and we’ll be submitting a planning application to Dover District Council later this year for new commercial development, including expanding our science offer and providing additional facilities, including a hotel and retail.”
At a Sandwich community forum Mr Hunter told the gathering that plans for Building 500, the biggest building on the site, include creating a new restaurant in the centre of the property to act as a hub and meeting space.
The site was bought by Discovery Park Estates Ltd in November 2016 when previous shareholders, Trevor Cartner, Chris Musgrave and Palmer Capital sold up – with Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave saying they intended to concentrate on the Stone Hill Park project at the Manston airport site.
The trio do, however, remain as the owners of the residential land.
The new owners – comprised of directors Bernard Spitz and Simcha Green – carried out a full operational and strategic review and have invested an initial £5m for science facility improvements.