Site of former Snibston Discovery Museum to be sold off for housing - Museums Association

Site of former Snibston Discovery Museum to be sold off for housing

Council proposal confirms ‘worst fears’ of campaigners
Laura Rutkowski

The site of the former Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville will be turned into housing if planning permission for a £1.4m redevelopment goes forward.

The interactive museum of industry and technology based around an old coal mine was closed in July 2015 and demolished in May this year. Leicestershire County Council said the museum’s £780,000-a-year running costs were too steep to maintain.

The council is hoping to make £1m from selling off the 2.5 acre site, which it says can accommodate up to 133 new houses and apartments. It is reportedly in talks with the National Coal Board to overturn a covenant that the land should only be used for recreational purposes.

The surrounding country park and Century Theatre, Britain’s oldest surviving travelling theatre, remain open. The council plans to use the money from the sale and a £400,000 investment from its own budget to fund a redevelopment of the country park, including a visitor centre and café, car park, heritage and BMX trails, and picnic, play and exercise areas.

The spokesman said: “Our proposed £1.4m investment in the Snibston site should enable people to learn about the historic colliery buildings and make more of the country park.”

The country park and visitor centre will cost £146,000 to run annually, which should be covered by the £160,000 income that the visitor centre and car park bring in, according to the spokesman.

The Friends of Snibston group, now renamed Snibston Mine and Park Guardians, campaigned to keep the museum open, but their proposal to run the museum as an independent trust was rejected by the council last year.

Brian Vollar, the former chairman of the Friends group, said the council’s plans have confirmed the “worst fears and predictions of campaigners and the community following the closure and demolition of the much-loved former Snibston Discovery Museum”.

“It represents contempt for local democracy and the will of the people and for a proud tradition of mining heritage,” he said.

Vollar expressed concerns that the site’s headstocks and colliery building, which are scheduled ancient monuments, would be fenced off with public access denied if the plans go ahead.

A council spokesman confirmed that the public do not currently have access to the cultural heritage area due to site security after the demolition of Snibston Discovery Museum. However, the council’s report proposes public access, as well as a heritage self-trail and interpretation displays, for the site.

Last year, the council proposed creating a smaller mining museum in the site’s adjoining colliery, but this option was deemed unaffordable.

The cabinet will meet at 2pm on 13 December to review the council’s report, which will be webcast live at



The Friends of Snibston Museum group has changed its name to Snibston Mine and Park Guardians and is now chaired by Stuart Warburton.


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