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Former Swan Collection co-owner to open Kent cycle venue Kingdom

21 January 2016 by
Former Swan Collection co-owner to open Kent cycle venue Kingdom

Restaurateur Peter Cornwell, former co-owner of the Swan Collection, is to open a new sustainable cycling café and wedding venue in Kent, with plans to collaborate with Silo chef Doug McMaster.

Cornwell aims to open Kingdom in Penshurst, near Tunbridge Wells, in May 2016.

It will sit within a four-storey wood building overlooking the Kent countryside. The site is already home to Penshurst Off Road Cycling, but Cornwell's involvement, which sees him take a majority stake in the venture, will help to drive the finishing touches to the building, as well as the completion of a 1.1-mile road cycling track.

He and his business partners plan to attract a mix of outdoor enthusiasts, cyclists and families, as well as hiring the venue out during weekdays to corporate clients, and hosting weddings for members.

McMaster, who runs the super-sustainable Silo in Brighton, which claims to be the UK's first zero-waste restaurant, will help to develop ideas for the food and drink, which the pair hope will be both healthy and sustainable.

Meanwhile, Cornwell is thought to be close to securing a deal with Surrey bike brand WyndyMilla, which will have an area on the lower floor of the building where it will build custom-made bikes.

The venue will also run sportives and other organised sporting events once the track, which is expected to cost around £150,000, has been laid.

Cornwell said he had had his eye on the venue for some time before former owner Mike Westphal, who retains a stake in the business, sold the majority of his share.

"The track has been coming for a long time. Mike got the permission about 10 years ago and a lot of people got fatigued with it but now I think with our injection of investment we are ticking off most of the planning problems. We have got all the quotes to lay the track, we have got the funding, and suddenly it is happening," Cornwell said.

He added that he hoped to launch a crowdfunding initiative to help complete the venue and also to generate interest among potential customers in the surrounding area, and that several sponsors and corporate clients were now interested in getting involved.

Cornwell's involvement comes over a year since he parted ways with business partner Diccon Wright and sold his interests in the Swan at Shakespeare's Globe and the Swan West Malling, also in Kent. Since then, he has taken over the Beacon in Tunbridge Wells, which he and his family acquired in November 2014. He hopes to build treehouse accommodation, in the style of five-star Hampshire hotel Chewton Glen, in the Beacon's 17 acres of grounds, provided he can obtain planning permission.

Meanwhile, he also opened the Twenty Six in Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, a year ago, installing the former head chef of the Swan West Malling, Scott Goss, at the helm as chef proprietor. "If I have learned anything in restaurants, it is that it takes a few years to bed in a really good one. It is a real opportunity for Scott to see what he can do and fulfil his potential without being distracted by weddings and events," he said of Goss, who has already won two AA rosettes.

Finally, Cornwell still owns the Swan at Chapel Down restaurant at Chapel Down vineyard in Kent. The restaurant won a Michelin Bib Gourmand last year.

Menuwatch: The Swan >>

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