Big changes at Chapel Down

One of the area’s most famous companies has won a planning battle to expand the business but not at the current site at Small Hythe. Chapel Down, which has been based in the Kent village since 1995, says it needs to be better connected to increase production. The plans for a new home at Bridge near Canterbury have been the subject of a controversial planning bid. Meanwhile the vineyard’s chief executive has confirmed the company’s HQ has moved to London.

Chapel Down originally got the greenlight for the new site near the A2 in April, however objectors threatened a judicial review which led to Canterbury City Council quashing the original decision and reconsidering it. The plans have now been reviewed and approved by the council’s planning committee at a meeting last week.

Shop at Chapel Down

Andrew Carter, Chapel Down’s CEO, says the new site is vital if the business is to expand. “Kent is our home and we have a mission to change the way the world thinks about English wine forever.” The Small Hythe base has the capacity for up to 2.5 million bottles of wine, “but in order to deliver our long term ambitions we require a purpose built winery facility with the capacity to produce at least 6 million bottles by 2032”

Concerns were raised in the meeting about the winery being built in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Katie Miller, a planning manager at the Kent Downs Trust, and part of its AONB team, urged the council to junk the plans. “The expansion of the wine industry is neither a national nor local priority reflected in planning policy and the benefits could be delivered by development outside of the AONB,” she argued.

Tweet from Chapel Down CEO Andrew Carter

The company still plans to continue growing grapes at Small Hythe, alongside specialist wine making and vineyard tours, however Andrew Carter has also confirmed Chapel Down’s HQ has now moved to London. In a tweet he says “Said a fond farewell to the Ashford office today, our brand home will always be Tenterden Kent, but Chapel Down HQ heading to London.”

Image Credits: Pam Fray Creative Commons , Oast House Archive .

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  1. Blimey, they’ve come along way in a short space of time & the best of luck to them.
    What a great success story on our doorstep, let’s hope it continues and they don’t lose sight of their originality and where they came from!


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