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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions

MAIDSTONE's Astor of Hever high school will be rebuilt after all. There had been some doubt when the

new Government put the scheme on hold last year. But the Department for Education has confirmed £12.5m funding for a new build on Astor’s Oakwood Park site over the next three years. It will be renamed St Augustine Academy,

from September, under a scheme spon- sored by the Woodard Academies Trust.

Maidstone Town Edition February 2011 No.166 £12.5m academy building goes ahead after all Its chairman Jan Richardson, is delighted.

“We now have significant funds to invest in St Augustine at a time when funds for all capital projects are being sharply reduced. “We’re looking forward to working with

Kent County Council and Partnership for Schools at this exciting design and planning stage." KCC leader Paul Carter said: “This is ex- cellent news for St Augustine Academy, par- ticularly in the current climate. We will work closely withWoodard to deliver facilities that

will be a source of pride for pupils, staff, par- ents and the local community.” The 610-student school was judged to be

good with outstanding features by Ofsted last year. It obtained 43% A-C grades, in- cluding English and maths, compared to 28% in 2009. Founded in 1847, Woodard is the largest

group of independent Church of England schools in England and Wales. It owns 23 schools and has 17 affiliated state schools. Work starts on Tovil school: page 12

About-turn is a crushing victory

A COUNTY council change of mind on plans for a large concrete crushing plant has delighted Tovil campaigners. In November, KCC’s planning committee brushed aside widespread objections, espe- cially from the parish council, about the scheme off Straw Mill Hill. It granted permission for SBS Recycling to convert a disused paper recycling centre into a facility that would process 90,000 tonnes of building waste a year. But the committee was forced to have a re-

think after a High Court ruling. Local coun- cillor Ian Chittenden said: “I am delighted.” Objections, which included two resi-

dents’ petitions containing hundreds of sig- natures, cited excessive noise, odour, disruption to neighbours, and concerns that local roads, particularly Straw Mill Hill and its junction with Tovil Hill, would fail to cope with additional traffic and so compro- mise highway safety. Tovil Action Group and the parish coun-

cil also raised concerns about the operating hours, access to the site, and impact on the Loose Valley Conservation Area. It was fur- ther stressed that the area had become highly residential in the past 20 years and was inappropriate for such a development. Cllr Chittenden said: “There was an ex-

Left: Maidstone MP Helen Grant with members of the Tovil Action Group, from left to right: Barbara Holloway, Marcela Hackett, George Manning, Sheila Bister, Clive Gunner and Roger Bister.

cellent cross-party challenge to this appli- cation, with huge support from local resi- dents, Tovil Parish Council, the Valley Conservation Society and Maidstone bor- ough councillors. “We must remember that it is likely that

the applicant will go to appeal. If so, there will be a public inquiry.” Cllr Derek Mortimer said: “It would be

nice if someone could come to the conclu- sion that the land should be residential and benefit all, rather than having something like this built.” The original decision to approve the scheme was made after Communities Sec- retary Eric Pickles indicated that the rele- vant South East Plan policy document

Call for huge rally in hospital maternity protest – see page 22 Council spends £84K on possible park and ride site

MAIDSTONE Council paid £84,000 at auction for an eight-acre plot on Bluebell Hill that it may use as a Park and Ride site one day. The wedge of land – between the A229 and the high-speed rail line – is located either side of the petrol station, on the Maidstone-bound side of the dual carriageway. John Foster, the council's economic develop-

ment manager, described it as a "rare piece of land on that corridor". He agreed that developing it as a P&R site was

one of the options. "But we are talking about the long term," he added. Lib Dem opposition leader Cllr FranWilson was "delighted" the land had been bought but "sad"

that the council had paid so much. The guide price in the Lambert & Foster auction brochure was £40,000-50,000. The Lib Dems had wanted to buy the site when

they were in power four years ago. Cllr Wilson said the price was “reasonable” then but her group lost power to the Tories, who chose not to purchase the land at the time. The new administration had since decided to

buy it, but Cllr Wilson said: "It went to auction and the council had to pay considerably more." Meanwhile, Mr Foster said it would have been

a "missed opportunity" not to have bought the Veitch Land, off Chatham Old Road, previously used as a base for High Speed 1 construction




01622 737335


works. He added: "If there is a desire

- and we find a need - we have the means to implement some- thing like a park and ride, but don't expect it any time. "Itwas an opportunity we felt

we needed to grasp. But, in terms of long-term strategy, it still needs to be worked out," he concluded.


would be revoked. However, this was overturned at the High Court, which ruled that the rev- ocation had to first go through Parliament. As a result, the SBS plan was

one of four that KCC decided should be decided again. On the second occasion, the plan- ning committee refused on the grounds of unsustainable de- velopment in respect of the ad- verse impact on the character of the local area and lack of need.

Homes get taste of

waste scheme NEW food waste containers are being delivered to 55,000 households in the borough as Maidstone Council rolls outs its latest recycling scheme. General refuse will be col-

lected fortnightly from now on, but food waste bins will be emptied weekly. Hungry for more! - see p8

Nightclub can stay open until 5am P3

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