Abbey could become first sake brewery in the UK

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A Japanese company is hoping to open the first sake brewery in the UK at the Grade Two listed Fordham Abbey.

The deal to purchase the country house set in 200 acres of parkland off Newmarket Road, Fordham, opens the way for a planning application to create a brewery, visitors’ centre, shop and restaurant.

It is hoped the ancient techniques of the brewing process will play an educational role in connection with Cambridge University.

Early talks with East Cambridgeshire District Council were brokered for the company, Dojima, with the help of the UK Trade & Investment organisation. Dojima is reported to have plans to invest around £9million with a staff of more than 100 over the next five years with a view to exporting into Europe.

A planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of April.

District councillor Joshua Schumann said that while matters were in the preliminary stages it was a ‘really exciting prospect’.

“This is a first for the UK and I believe a first for Europe and, provided everything is carried out sensitively to the abbey and local community, it is a very positive thing.”

Cllr Schumann said that the Hashimoto family who own Dojima had close connections with Ely and Cambridge and were interested in the Abbey because of its historic nature. Their intention was to retain the beauty of the buildings.

Fordham Abbey has been on the market for the last four years and is thought to have sold for £3.5million.

A parish council meeting will hear more from Cllr Schumann on April 13.

John Hill, chief executive at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Officers from the planning, conservation and economic development teams at East Cambridgeshire District Council have had pre application discussions with Dojima regarding developing the UK’s first sake brewery in Fordham.

“This is an exciting opportunity and potentially a real coup for the district with the job creation and economic benefits the project could bring.

“I look forward to seeing how this story will develop in the weeks and months ahead.”