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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR


Lockmeadow ‘rip-off’ Dear Sir–Ihopethiswillbea timely warn- ing to readers who park on the river side of Lockmeadow car park. I parked my car in a corner position on a


Tuesday afternoon, noting that the bay markings were worn away to nothing at all in places. Having parked alongside another car, I paid my £1.60 fee andwent to the cin- ema.


When I returned I found a penalty notice, saying I had parked outside the bay mark- ings. I challenged the notice, supplying a photo


of the worn-away markings, but to no avail. I was informed that not only was I outside the bay markings but Iwas also in a turning circle!


Neither I nor my three passengers (all


with 40 years plus driving experience and normally quite capable of recognising a turning circlewhenwe see one) had noticed this fact. Not wishing to discover I was guilty of yet more parking crimes I paid my £25 penalty, but I did have the satisfaction of saving a fellow motorist the following week from the same expense – he had parked in exactly the same position for ex- actly the same reason. Peter Packham, Bearsted


Tovil tip staff so helpful Dear Sir – Has anyone else noticed how helpful the staff are at the Tovil Household Waste Disposal Site (that is, the dump)? I have found everyone unfailingly polite


and pleasant and always eager to advise in which section the rubbish should be put. Often they actually help empty your car


and take the waste to the appropriate sec- tion themselves. It's just so heartening these days to receive such good service. Amanda Howard, Old School Hall, East Farleigh


You can write to us at: Downs Mail, 2 Forge House, Bearsted Green Business Park, Bearsted, Maidstone, ME14 4DT or e-mail: info@downsmail.co.uk


Store first - but what Next? Dear Sir – Much has been made of a recent planning application toMaidstone Borough Council by Gallagher Properties Ltd and Next Group Plc for retail development at Eclipse Park. In order for this to be approved, the bor-


ough council will have to change the land use, which is presently designated as exclu- sively office and high-tech uses, to retail and business uses. Taken in isolation, there is little to object to


in the development of a Next superstore on the site. However, once the land use has been changed, it will be very difficult for the bor- ough council to object to other retail outlets also applying to develop on the other vacant sites at Eclipse Park. It has been suggested that major fast food chains and supermarkets might vie for the opportunity to expand there, especially as it is near a motorway access. Such develop- ment would need 24hr servicing by delivery vehicles and of course would generate con- siderable associated traffic. I’m sure guests at the Hilton Hotel would appreciate that. No doubt arguments will be put forward to demonstrate Maidstone has sufficient office space and therefore the vacant plots should be used for retail purposes. Equally, a counter argument could show that such a develop- ment would be contrary to existing “Town Centre First” policy, and also, the fact that some retailers are already vacating desig- nated retail parks such as Aylesford indicate that there are existing areas that could be oc- cupied by large retail organisations. The case for the development of Eclipse Park as a retail park is therefore unproven. In the present economic climate it is diffi-


cult for any non-retail organisation to invest in prestigious offices, but times will change. The development of a specific office and high-tech park is sound.More jobs can be cre- ated in such a development than in the


equivalent area if used for retail purposes, and this will benefit Maidstone. The borough council should stick to its original concept and not buckle to veiled threats from interested parties to develop in other towns, if their wish to impose them- selves onMaidstone is not met. As more residents in East ward realise the


wider implications of such a planning appli- cation, the more they are rejecting this de- velopment. It is totally erroneous to say this proposal has their full support. JimWilson, Shaw Close, Maidstone


Road markings confusion Dear Sir – The road markings around the one way bridges in Maidstone seem to be causing confusion. People are not reading the signs for Chatham, Tonbridge Road and London Road and there have been several incidents as a result. This is making me increasingly annoyed. Emily Crocker, Arlott Close, Maidstone


Mental health care excellent Dear Sir – At the end of November last year, my son, aged 39, was admitted to the men- tal health care unit at Priority House, based at Maidstone Hospital. During the seven weeks he was an in-pa-


tient there, he waswell cared for by the psy- chiatric nursing team. His own room was clean, warm and comfortable and he men- tioned that the hospital food was good. He spent the Christmas period there and


the staff worked hard to ensure that Christ- mas was enjoyable. The staff at Brockenhurst ward were very professional, cheerful, supportive, friendly and caring. So much criticism is made of the NHS,


but there is a department here at Maidstone Hospital which deserves much praise and recognition. They are all doing a wonderful job.


Name and address supplied Flats scheme for town centre office block


A PLAN has been lodged to convert a 1960s office block in London Road, Maidstone, into 73 residential flats. The last tenant at six-storey Concorde House (pictured), on the A20 London Road at its junction with Rocky Hill, was due to move out in February. Applicant Croft Capital wants


to use the building to provide 68 one- and two-bed flats and five studio flats. An extra floor would create


roof terrace apartments. There would be 72 parking spaces behind the building. The layout would remain largely the same, with a “con-


Fence turned down PAMELAHughes’ application to replace hedges and tree stumps with a two-metre high boundary fence at 11 The Landway, Bearsted, has been refused. Maidstone Council’s decision


notice said: “The proposed de- velopment would be detrimen- tal to the streetscene, and by would not afford adequate mit- igation through the introduc- tion of compensatory planting.”


Concorde House, from the river, before and after the proposal


temporary makeover”. A sup- porting statement said: “The window openings will be for- malised to reflect a residential appearance, with the addition of balconies to some areas. “Render and terracotta/grey


AN APPLICATIOn has been submitted to convert a five-bed- room house into three self-con- tained flats at 30 Ashford Road, Maidstone. A supporting statement said:


“The scale of the property re- mains the same, bar the demo- lition of the rear extension, removal of the bay window at the rear of the ground floor and the addition of a dormer win-


panel cladding will modernise and refresh the elevations. “The new design is consid-


ered to successfully integrate into the evolving character of Rocky Hill, where buildings provide a mixed aesthetic.”


Plan to convert house to flats


dow to the rear south-facing roof.


“The removal of these tatty


rear parts will enhance the property. The front (facing the road) appearance of the prop- erty will remain as it is, but fully renovated, vegetation re- moved and all necessary repairs made.”


Maidstone Council will deter- mine the planning application


To contact Downs Mail just phone 01622 630330


The applicant has submitted a marketing report arguing that the building has become unviable for business use. A statement said: “A thorough assessment of alternative uses ... has shown that residential uses are the most appropriate form of development, which will also contribute to Maidstone’s hous- ing numbers and targets.” “The building lends itself readily to conversion to apart- ments. Adequate access is pro- vided for both pedestrians and vehicles, using an existing and established access point.” Maidstone Council will deter- mine the planning application.


Birch may be felled RAYMOND Jelfs has been given permission to fell a protected silver birch tree at 15 PloughmansWay,Walder- slade. A statement said: “The root structure is ruining any lawn with surface roots, which are now extending into and be- ginning to lift and damage our shared driveway.”


East 53


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