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Malling Edition September 2013 No. 185 £8m Mall plan postponed

A PLANNED £8million refurbishment of The Mall could be scrapped following the success of Next’s application for an out-of-town superstore on the north-eastern edge of Maidstone. In June,Maidstone Council’s planning commit-

tee gave the retailer permission for a 5,748 sq m Next Home outlet at Eclipse Park, near junction 7 of theM20. The council’s retail analyst, DTZ, had forecast

the superstore would reduce trade in the town centre by 2.13%. With the possible introduction of large Debenhams andWaitrose stores at Newn- ham Court – opposite the impending Next super- store – likely to further dent the town centre’s offering, bosses at The Mall have decided to hold fire on a proposed £8m revamp of the shopping centre. Gareth Holland, retail asset manager for The Mall, toldMaidstone Council’s planning commit-

tee: “We objected to the Next scheme from the start. It flies in the face of the Government’s ‘town centre first’ policy, which indicates that any avail- able space in town centres should be given plan- ning preference over edge and out-of-town sites. “It will undermine the town centre and indicate

to developers and retailers that potential future out-of-town development in Maidstone can be achieved. “We are all already aware of further significant proposals. This will inevitably seriously jeopar- dise interest in town centre sites. “While uncertainty remains, this will be to the detriment of existing retailers. The Mall currently has the capacity to house a store of this size.We have proposals to invest further in The Mall but these have to be considered in the light of further threats to the town centre from potential future out-of-town retail developments and the

Kings Hill sports park handed over

A£4MILLION sports parkwith five grass pitches, pavilion and chang- ing rooms for six teams has been handed over to thepeople of Kings Hill by developer Liberty Property Trust UK and KCC. Called Kings Hill SportsPark, the

new facility will be managed by Kings Hill Parish Council. It has an artificial pitch, allotments and bri- dleways. Work started on the pitches in

2011, using specialist equipment to screenand sort8,000 cubicme- tres of soil, all of which came from within Kings Hill; 590 tonnes of sand; 70 tonnes of recycled tyres and seven miles of drainage pipes. The peripheral areas have been landscaped and planted with na- tive hedges and wild flowers. A total of 1,200m of footpaths

Andrew Blevins, centre, of Liberty Property Trustwith councillors

crossing the area have been up- graded to bridleways and 5,200 sq m of land has been given to the community for allotments. Liberty’s managing director, An-

drewBlevins,unveiledacommem- orative plaque at the handover ceremony, which was also at- tended by Cllr Mark Dance, KCC cabinet member for economic de-

A NEW housing allocation scheme aimed at giving greater priority to local people has been agreed by Tonbridge and Malling Council. The changes, expected to be

Inside this edition: VOLUNTEERS are needed to help plant up the Green in West Malling High Street. Plants were crushed during the summer when a car crashed through bollards. For more details see this month’s four-page supple- ment by Malling Action Partnership, which supports people, businesses and events in the 10 parishes in the Malling area.

in place by October, mean the housing register will be open only to those with a local con- nection to the borough and an identified housing need. The housing list was due to

close during September so that households who were previ- ously registered could be re- assessed under the new scheme. The council said online bid-

ding for vacant homes would also be suspended, meaning ap- plicants would not be able to

velopment; Cllr Howard Rogers, Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling Council, CllrDaveWaller, chairman of Kings Hill Parish Council, and various sports clubs. CllrWaller said: “With a very ac-

tive football club at Kings Hill we know the facilities will prove very popular – bookings have already been taken for the next year.”

Housing list ‘fairer for locals’

bid from September 13 to 18. Homes that would have been advertised during this cycle would appear in the cycle im- mediately before or after. Existing housing applicants

were asked not to call the hous- ing team until they are advised in writing that their application has been reassessed. Anyone needing urgent help would be able to speak to an officer in the usual way during this period. Cllr Jill Anderson, Tonbridge

and Malling Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “The new scheme will allow us to concentrate on local people in the most urgent need of help to find a home.”

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Deal keeps Kent Life in operation

A CHARITABLE Trust has stepped in to protect a popular Maidstone tourist attraction – and with it, 30 jobs. The Cobtree Manor Estate

Trust has teamed up with Con- tinuum Kent Life Ltd to operate Kent Life for a further three years. The trust, which was set up


to manage the estate left to Maidstone by twelve-times Mayor Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt- Drake, had leased the land to KCC, which in turn sub-let it to Continuum, whose arrange- ment was due to end this month. Now the trust has stepped in

with a deal whereby Contin- uum will continue to manage the visitor attraction and her- itage centre until March 2016, giving the trust time to consider all future options. Without the trust’s interven-

tion, there were fears that the museum could have closed. Trustees believe thiswill give

them time to fully review the operation and plan a “procure- ment strategy” for the future. Cllr John Wilson, chairman of the Cobtree Manor Estate Char- ity Committee, which adminis- ters the estate on behalf of the trust, said: “This is an interim measure which will help the trust assess the possibilities.” Ideally, the trustees would

like to see the land north of the Medway – combining the Cob- tree Golf Course, Cobtree Manor Park and Kent Life – linked with a river walkway to the town. Cllr Wilson said: “We do not

make the most of the river in Maidstone. The Medway is often described as the ‘jewel in Maidstone’s crown’ but all we see from the town centre is warehouses. “In the long term, our vision

is to combine the various parts of the Cobtree estate – the golf course, the park and the rural museum – with a


Last-minute delay to woods removal


Pavilion campaign gets £50K boost P29

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