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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - over 83,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition July 2013 No.195 Next wins out-of-town store battle

NEXT’s proposal for a large out- of-town superstore near M20 Junction 7 has been given the go-ahead – despite claims it would badly harm the appeal of Maidstone town centre. The retailer’s plan to open a

Next Home store at Eclipse Park divided Maidstone Council’s planning committee, whose vote was split along party lines. Six Conservatives voted in favour, with five Lib Dems as well as Independent Daniel Mo- riarty voting against. But the casting vote by com- mittee chairman Cllr Richard Lusty, a Conservative, pushed the scheme through. Planning officers had urged members to reject the planning application

A sweet treat for young fete

visitors THESE two youngsters were delighted with their cake purchases from the stall at the Boughton Monchelsea village fete. The cake stall raised

£222for CancerResearch and was one of several events onasuccessfulday that even included the set- ting of a newworld record. See page 6 for more de- tails and pictures. Picture: Lynda Fuller

Fears over business exodus in village

NEWS that two of Marden’s major businesses plan to move out of the village has come as a body blow to villagers and traders. Automotive Distributors Ltd (ADL) and Scarab Sweepers Ltd, both based in theWheelbarrow Es- tate in Pattenden Lane, have announced they are prepared to invest inWaterside Park, a proposed 38-acre site owned by the Gallagher Group, south

TWOlarge solar farms could ap- pear in the Low Weald near Headcorn and Staplehurst. Solar Securities has submitted

a screening opinion request to Maidstone Council to place 112,008 solar panels over 12 sep- arate fields at Great Tong Farm just north of Headcorn. Mean- while in Staplehurst, Vogt Solar

of the A20 close to M20 Junction 8 near Bearsted. Both ADL and Scarabs have been bought out by European companies who want to expand their export market and thus require larger premises. They currently operate from five separate sites in Pattenden Lane and say the move would consol- idate operations in one single location.More than 20 containers a month drive to ADL at

P4 Large solar farms may become Low Weald landmarks

UKhas told the council it wishes to build a 21-hectare solar farm at Great Pagehurst Farm. Staplehurst residents ex- pressed their concerns at a parish council meeting, com- plaining they were not officially notified about the proposal and worrying about the visual im- pact. Headcorn farmer William

Day explained he agreed to a solar farm on his land in order to help protect the environment and keep his business afloat. Solar Securities also submitted

a screening opinion to build a 16,000-panel solar farm in Thurnham, nearBearsted, earlier this month. Full stories: page 18

Constantly checking UK prices to get you the lowest price

The Big Ye llow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102 www.lincolnfur

Recycling boost FROM Monday 5 August 2013, recycling and rubbish collections in Maidstone are changing to help increase the amount you can recycle from home. For more details, see the Maidstone Council-spon- sored 12-page Borough Up- date in the centre pages.

Road weight limit divides villages

Memorial hall needs funds to survive

P29 P8

to site the £9m home and fash- ion outlet on land adjoining the Hilton Hotel, in Bearsted Road, due to the adverse effect it would have on town centre businesses. The council’s retail analyst,

DTZ, had forecast that the 5,748sqm store would reduce trade in the town centre by 2.13%, but the applicants claimed the negative effect would amount to 1.37%. Officers came up with alter- native sites, including the for- mer Royal Mail sorting office near Maidstone East railway station, the former Somerfield store in King Street and the ex TJ Hughes unit in The Mall – but Next regional estates man-

ager Iain Allsop claimed these were not viable. “It is a case of Eclipse Park or nowhere,” he said, explaining that there would be only 20Next Home superstores throughout the country, and Maidstone’s would be the sole one in Kent. Eclipse Park, owned by Gal- lagher Properties, was previ- ously an area designated for business and office use and it was predicted that the Next store could encourage other re- tailers to move there. With nearby Newnham Court ear- marked for retail expansion in the borough council’s emerging Core Strategy, there were con- cerns about the cumulative ef- fect on town centre businesses.

But council leader, Cllr Chris Garland, who sat in on the item as a substitute committee mem- ber – he left the chamber as soon as it had been determined so did not vote on anything else inapackedagenda–was in favour of the scheme. He said: “The council’s com- mitment to the town centre is there for all to see, with the best part of a £4m investment in re- cent years. I am keen to go for approval on this one. “If the application is refused

Next will walk away and end up somewhere else in Kent. This will send out the wrong message and also damage us economically. “There is an events

Morrisons may


come to town MORRISONS has admitted that it wants to open a store in Maidstone town centre. The supermarket chain has

been given planning permis- sion to move into the former Army and Navy store at 69-77 Week Street. Earlier this year it was given licensing consent to sell alcohol. The M Local store would create 20 jobs. Laura Stubbs from Morrisons

said:“We’re in the early stages of discussion about bringing a Mor- risonsMlocal to Maidstone.We look forward to sharing our plans with the community, should things progress.”

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