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Castle hopes to welcome

‘glampers’ “GLAMPING” could become a semi-permanent feature at Leeds Castle if plans are given the go-ahead. Shorthand for glamorous camping, the activity sees campers staying in luxury, furnished tents that are erected for their arrival. Leeds Castle has applied for planning permission to have several medieval-style tents in an old vineyard between late spring and early autumn. Maidstone Council will de- cide whether it can happen. The fire-proofed canvas

tents would sit on timber decking and be furnished with four-poster beds and wood-burning stoves. They would be decorated in a vari- ety of colours and heritage- style patterns, and hedgerows will be encouraged to grow up to screen them. Bark chipping pathways

and festive lighting would guide visitors to the tents, which would not be wheel- chair accessible, nor suitable for those with significant physical disabilities. Toilets and showers would

be available at nearby Knights Cottage.

Next plans ‘home’ store Continued from page one

in the country to be purpose- built. The two other stores are in Handforth Dean, at the heart of Cheshire’s stockbroker belt, and in HighWycombe. Other stores exist in Shore-

ham, on the Sussex coast. and Martlesham, near Ipswich – but these are conversions. Mr Hughes said: “Next aims

to deliver an attractive building with an interior design and lay- out that will provide an excep- tional shopping experience.” The proposed store would

sell men and women’s fashions, as well as childrenswear, furni- ture, home furnishings, deco- rating and DIY products. But unlike some of Next’s

other out-of-town outlets, it would not have a garden centre. However, the proposal flies in

the face of claims by landowner Gallagher, as reported in last month’s Downs Mail, that the J7 site had been earmarked for “high-quality office develop- ment”.

Gallagher’s chief executive

Nick Yandle said the company had rebutted numerous ap- proaches as being unsuitable, and said the companywas keen to retain Eclipse Park’s status as a location for upmarket offices, in line with its current tenants

Towergate, DHA planning, ASB law, Orbit Housing Association, Software of Excellence, DSH (accountants) and the Hilton Hotel.

Gallagher Property’s Eileen O’Grady said: “We were not seeking to have retail on this site, but it is a good fit. There would be no problems with parking, it is close to the park and ride and there is still land available for office develop- ment.” Jason Lewis, director of DHA

Transport, said: “We believe this will bring employment – and people – to the town.We do not want to see this develop- ment go to Canterbury or Ash- ford.” Mr Hughes said: “Demo- graphically, this sits very well with what Next wants to achieve. It’s a great location and will bring people into the area from south east London.”

An artist’s impression of the Next concept store

planned at Junction 7 outside

Maidstone Maidstone Town Centre Man-

ager, Bill Moss, said: “The TCM stance remains that the direc- tors are hostile to this kind of development at Junction 7. It will be interesting to see how things develop.” Cllr Malcolm Greer, cabinet member for economic and com- mercial development, said: “We have to be adventurous. We cannot afford to miss these op- portunities. “We have to think about hous-

ing and jobs and bringing peo- ple to Maidstone. Medway has the dockyard, Canterbury has its cathedral; Maidstone has to think about its shops.” He added: “This is the gate-

way into Maidstone and, if we ensure the development is of the highest quality, we need to have an open mind. Ifwe do not movewith the times, we will be dead ducks.”

4 East

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