Steeped in rich history, Tunbridge Wells’ Salomons Estate has submitted planning permission for their development proposals that “run into the millions” as they plan to secure the future and conserve the heritage of its listed assets.
The phased approach includes:
- Reinstating original character through landscape restoration.
- Converting and improving the sustainability of David Salomons’ old stable block.
- Redeveloping and increasing accommodation and function room space.
The aim is to promote local tourism and generate the funds necessary to restore the estate’s main building, Salomons House, which has been an important historical site for over 190 years.
Since acquiring the estate in 2013, Markerstudy Group, now Elite Leisure Collection, have invested £32.2m, and as the heritage property’s offering has grown, the responsibility to the local community has increased.
Currently, Salomons Estate employs 78 members of staff, is home to 23 businesses, and holds an average of 75 weddings each year, making it an integral part of the local and broader community.
The current proposals that underwent 12 months of careful consideration have been devised by architect Dr Gaby Higgs (RIBA), who has over 40 years of experience working with listed buildings and historic townscapes.
Gaby explained, “I set out to investigate, survey, photograph and talk to as many people as possible to understand what makes Salomons so unique and special”, adding, “I wanted to find out who works there, who visits and how the estate connects with Tunbridge Wells and the community.”
Specialising in the restoration and conversion of Georgian houses, including sensitive retrofitting for environmental performance and long-term sustainability, Gaby’s qualifications and experience are ideal for Salomon’s long-term development project in which she explained,
‘The buildings will be restored and repurposed for long-term viable and sustainable uses, maximising their potential to create employment and attracting both tourists and local visitors to enjoy spending time at Salomons.”
The sensitive approach to conserving Salomons’ heritage assets whilst maintaining the commercial activities on site is as exciting as it is reassuring and promises a secure future for the grade II listed building.
With phases one and two underway, phase three awaits planning approval.
Phase one will improve the landscape and its views, replacing the parking bays that line the main drive with trees along with relocating the car park to a more discreet spot.
The restoration of lost pathways along with the garden will also contribute to improving the character of the site’s grounds. New entrance gates will be installed to improve security.
Phase two invests in the estate’s potting sheds.
The buildings previously used for maintenance and housekeeping have had their planning applications approved. Work is underway to convert each unit into accommodation incorporating natural and earthy elements reminiscent of their original use. Completion of phase three is expected by the end of September 2022.
David Salomons’ old stable block, Runcie Court, forms phase three.
Current plans are to convert the building into short-stay accommodation, sensitively designed to provide 17 suites which will allow people to experience the history of the building.
Period features such as decorative tiles, joinery, and ephemera relating to the stables will all be retained throughout the development, which also includes a public use area on the ground floor and courtyard, suitable for leisure, entertainment, and hospitality.
Salomons Estate has a fascinating history, reflected in the diverse character of its period buildings and the estate, who recognise its duty to approach the project with sensitivity, is encouraging the public to visit their museum, where they will be featuring a visual timeline of the ongoing developments.
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