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Maidstone East Edition October 2013 No.198 Clear-up after gypsies moved on

A LARGE clean-up operation cost- ing several thousand pounds was launched aftergypsiesbrokedown fences and set up home for more than a week at a country park in Thurnham. White Horse Wood – KCC’s

newest country park, in the heart of the Kent Downs – was left strewn with gas canisters, excre- ment, nappies and piles of general rubbish, after the travellers had moved on. KCC workers had the task of loading skips with tyres, a shed, tree stumps, branches and hedge trimmings that were left behind. These were thought to have come from local gardens, cleared by job- bing gypsies during their stay. A

visitor noticeboard was also de- stroyed. Police were first called on Sep-

tember 2, when travellers – some with an Irish accent – broke into the site from the A249 and moved on to the park. The police and the county coun-

cil assured the local community theywould try to persuade the trav- ellers to leave the site within days. Instead, thenumberof caravans in- creased from 13 to 17 before the gypsies left on September 12. Park warden David Quigley

(right), who was involved in the clear-up, said the travellers had been willing to talk to the authori- ties, but had proved intimidating to visitors.

Dogging cases

spark concern POLICE have appealed for peo- ple to report incidents of dogging near the Detling Aerodrome. Anti-social activities have

been reported as early as 4pm, exposingwalkers, residents, mo- torists and children on their way homefromschooloronbuses using the A249 to obscene acts. Detectives are talking to coun-

P4 £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 (see below) – opposite the impending Next superstore – 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-

£100m scheme

for retail village AMASSIVE £100m plan has been unveiled to re-develop and extend Newnham Court Shopping Village, near Maidstone. Land Securities, whichhascome

up with the proposals to transform the Harvestore site into a retail “lifestyle and outdoor living” vil- lage – trebling the shopping area – says Waitrose (artist’s impres- sion pictured right) and Deben- hamswill open in2016if the plans are approved. The Nottcutts gar- den centrewould transfer to a pur- pose-buit two-storey development to the north of the site. The company – which operates

18shopping centres across theUK –says the BearstedRoad develop-

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

cillors to find a solution to the problem caused by people who take pleasure from having sex where they risk being seen. Alay-by on the Sittingbourne- bound carriageway, near South Street, was closed in 2005 and barriers were installed at Chalky Road to deter doggers. AStockbury resident said that

while efforts to stop the problem at Chalky Lane had helped, he was concerned that the problem wouldmove to a new hot spot. Now, fresh concerns have been

raised by those using the aero- drome site and by residents in nearby Bimbury Lane. InspectorMaxine Martin said: “There is a lot of work going on to resolve the issues. We meet regularly with the local authori- ties and councillors and we are making good progress. “We recently interviewed a

man in connection with his be- haviour, and are writing to the owners of vehicles seen in the area to advise them they could be committing criminal offences. “I would encourage residents


to report anti-social behaviour in the area so we can maintain a clear picture of what is taking place, and we will be arranging a residents’ meeting.” The police and Stockbury-

parish council are said to be in- vestigating options, including fitting a gated entry system to the aerodrome site.

Co-op plan alarms village traders

mentwill create800 newjobs and £5mwould be spent improving ac- cess to the site, on roads around the park, and links to the town. Land Securities is looking tosub-

mit plans for the two-phase devel- opment,withparking for900cars, to Maidstone Council by autumn.

For full story, turn to page 10

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‘Secret’ report adds to housing row

P24 P13

Crackdown on pubs MAIDSTONE Council iswork- ing with landlords at pubs to reduce complaints about anti- social noise. For more details, see the Maidstone Council- sponsored 12-page Borough Update in the centre pages.

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