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Maidstone East Edition December 2012 No.188 Transport plan scrapped

DISTRICT and county council- lors have unanimously rejected plans for the future of Maid- stone’s transport system. The town’s Joint Transporta-

tion Board condemned a 612- page dossier, the integrated transport strategy compiled by officers, as “unworkable” and “not fit for purpose”. Ideas included a one-way gy-

ratory system into Maidstone, a new bus lane along Sutton Road, the opening of the St Andrew’s Road cul-de-sac to form a one- way system in Tonbridge Road, and an increase in charges at council-owned car parks. Members now want Maid-

stone Council to look again at proposals for its Core Strategy, which they say cannot be deliv- ered from a transport infrastruc- ture point of view.

Chairing the meeting, Cllr

Gary Cooke said predictions were for the number of vehicle trips to increase by 41% by 2026 and for journey times to increase by an average of 20% throughout the day. “At peak times, on busy routes, this will be significantly higher, and we will have major problems developing,” he said. Cllr Cooke produced themin-

utes from October 2011 relating to the same transport strategy, and queried why several major recommendations had not been included – such as a review of the bridge gyratory system over the river, consideration of the South East Maidstone strategic link and the creation of a trans- port interchange at Maidstone East, which was considered es- sential just a year ago.

Eclipse ‘stays exclusive’ FOUR-fifths of Eclipse Park off M20 J7 re- mains undeveloped – but landowner Gal- lagher Properties has turned down offers from companies to move in. Gallagher chief executive Nick Yandle says

he has rebuffed advances from large storage companies and a cash and carry operation to fill the 4.8 hectares of land (48,000 sq m) that remains empty on the six-hectare site. Mr Yandle says the company is keen to re-

tain Eclipse’s status as a location for upmarket offices, in line with current tenants Towergate Insurance, DHA Planning, ASB Law, Orbit Housing Association, Software of Excellence, DSH (chartered accountants) and the Hilton hotel. “We don’t have any borrowings on the

land and we have always been protective about the brand of Eclipse Park,” he said. “We have had people wanting to put up a

Big Yellow Storage Company-type of build- ing. They wanted it to be brash and eye- catching, but that is not the type of thing we want in Eclipse Park. “If itmeans we have to be patient and wait

for the right type of development, that is what we have to do. If you were to look at Eclipse Park as a supermarket, given the quality of buildings that exist, we would be the Waitrose. Eclipse Park is Maidstone’s version of Kings Hill.

P24 Michelle Adams, Rachel Coppins and Kemi Adams ‘Gateway makers’ at risk

A VOLUNTARY project compared to the Games Makers at the 2012 Olympics faces closure unless funding can be found to keep it going. Since September 2010, 53 volunteers have been on

hand to meet and greet members of the public at Maid- stone Gateway in King Street. Gateway volunteers, runbyVoluntaryAction Maidstone,

has also helped 22 volunteers progress into training, em- ployment or mainstream volunteering. But the project’s National Lottery funding, which amountedto about£60,000this year, finishes inFebruary. Kemi Adams (33), of TonbridgeRoad, Maidstone,was a

Gateway volunteer but left to start a full time job, only to return again when her hours reduced. “Being a volunteer here was one of the best


Swadelands head’s Ofsted delight

01622 750733 10 St Faiths Street Maidstone

Tim Read, KCC’s head of transportation, and co-author of the report, said with 10,000 new jobs and 10,000 new homes, the levels of congestion would in- evitably rise. Maidstone planning chief Rob Jarman said the strategywas de- signed to cope with the in- creased jobs and housing targets, but Cllr Cooke said there was no evidence to show Maidstone needed 10,000 jobs and said he believed housing should be dispersed more into the rural areas, not concentrated in the urban “sprawl”. He said: “We have to decide

what price we are prepared to pay. We can either accept this, amend it, or kick it back to the officers as not acceptable as a fit-for-purpose document for Maidstone, neither for


Homes backed MAIDSTONE Council’s vision of 600 new homes in Langley Park has been backed by a plan- ning application. The borough council’s emerg-

ing Core Strategy earmarks land either side of Sutton Road for about 1,075 new homes as one of themeasures to meet growth targets by 2026. Although this document is

yet to be formalised, landowner TaylorWimpey has made a for- mal notification that it is pre- pared to meet one of the council’s targets – 600 homes on land at Langley Park. The proposal also includes a

local centre, incorporating shops and a pub, two-form entry primary school and com- munity hall, together with open space, and a nature conserva- tion area or parkland. Alex Anderson, from agent Pegasus Group, said there would likely be provision for 40% affordable housing. There are no other details as the scheme is only at a “screening opinion” stage. Maidstone Council will deliver its feed- back prior to a formal applica- tion from the developer.


Church cuts services after turnout fall


Stones attendances rise by 300% P35


Co-op contract THE prospect of a Co-op store in Lenham appears more likely after it emerged that the com- pany has already signed an agreement with landlords to move into a property near the village square. Last month’s Downs Mail re- ported that a 650-name petition had been set up to prevent the company setting up a retail unit on the site of the former Lenham Ironmongers, which has been empty since an arson attack two years ago. At that stage, landlords Ramac said it had only been in discussions with the supermar- ket chain. However, a meeting with Lenham Parish Council revealed that a contract exists between the pair. This has angered local busi- nesses, who were confident they had enough money to out- bid the Co-op and keep the vil- lage free from chain stores. A consortium, which included Matthew Cockell, owner of the existing convenience store in The Square, planned to buy the site to enable Lenham Iron- mongers to return and to possi- bly establish affordable P8

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