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‘Iconic’ campus approved Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - over 83,000 copies - 4 editions

A HUGE new medical campus near M20 Junction 7, that in- cludes a university and new hospital has been given the go- ahead – and could become a “national treasure”. The comment was made by

Cllr Stephen Paine, one of the seven members – all Conserva- tive – of Maidstone Council’s planning committee who voted to ensure the 98,000 sqmMaid- stone Medical Campus was granted outline permission. The project will be located to

the south and east of the £90m Kent Institute of Medical Sci- ence (KIMS), which is due to open in April. It is set to become the largest single development in Maidstone for many years, with the creation of 4,000 jobs and 766 residential units. On greenfield land north of Bearsted Road, covering an area larger than 26 football pitches and more than 12 times the size of KIMS, the following has been approved:  New women’s and children’s hospital  University campus  Halls of residence for 300 stu- dents  116 care-assisted units and a day centre in a dedicated

Maidstone Town Edition December 2013 No.200

Fran wins support

By Dennis Fowle

“neuro-rehabilitation village”  Research and development unit Pathology labs, offices and ac- commodation for doctors  Business uses  Ancillary retail services  Minimum of 25% NHS refer- rals

Although environmental mit- igation measures include the creation of woodland near Ash Tree Gardens, Cllr Tony Har- wood and three other Lib Dem members of the committee voted against the scheme as it was contrary to the local plan, which has yet to earmark the land for medical use. Cllr Paine said: “We are not talking about a local hospital but specialist care and a research centre that would be a national

treasure. The salaries from these jobs are going to be double the average for people in Maidstone at the moment. “This is a very good design, particularly with the green space. It is a fantastic offer - 4,000 jobs with those sort of salaries will help regenerate the town centre. “If other boroughs were here

they would not have this argu- ment. They would snap their hands off.” Cllr Chris Garland, council

leader and substitute member on the committee, said: “This can be something iconic. Maid- stone should be proud to be the location for this. It could have gone to Kings Hill or Ashford butMaidstone will benefit.”

More on this story – page 10 Borough may get more new homes

DOWNSMail has learned that the number of new homes the Government will demand to be built in Maidstone in the period 2011 to 2031 is set to rise again. A year ago, Maidstone Council raised its work-

ing target for the local plan from 10,800 to 14,800 over fears that the Government would reject the lower figure. Now the Government is reassessing needs throughout the UK based on the housing market and it is possible that the Maidstone figure will jump to about 18,000. A number of councils have recently had their housing targets rejected for being too low. The local plan by Gravesham Council, in north Kent, is one that has been sent back to the drawing board after a planning inspector raised “serious concerns” over its target of 4,800 homes.

Maidstone Council’s new figure will be based

on sub national population projections aswell as the housing market and will involve working with neighbouring Ashford and Tonbridge & Malling councils as the market differs from one end of the borough to the other. The council’s cabinet will agree its revised fig-

ure in January and land allocations in February, when they will go out for consultation. Should more homes be added to the target,

some of the housing will be on brownfield sites, mostly in urban Maidstone. But the amount of this land still available is reducing and it will ac- commodate only a small percentage of new hous- ing in the future. Thiswould leave Maidstone Council no option

but to locate most of the new housing on green- field sites around the borough.

COUNCILLORFranWilson’s au- thority as leader of the Lib Dems on Maidstone Council has been re-established, after group mem- bers gave her an “overwhelming vote of confi- dence”. She will hold the reins for the foreseeable future and could continue beyond May’s elec- tions.

After a difficult few months controlling local Lib Dem policy and campaigning,CllrWilson of- fered to quit as leader and resign from the council. Her critics – set on pre-election campaigning and damningmany ruling Tory policies – saw her as too close to Conservative group leader Cllr Chris Garland. “I will not change my style of leadership,” she told Downs Mail. “We must try to communi- cate with the Conservatives and work on persuading them when we know they are wrong.” Cllr Wilson will now concen-

trate on presenting a united front with the Maidstone and The Weald Lib Dems executive and the prospective parliamentary candidate Jasper Gerard. She believes he has the poten-

tial to be “an excellent MP” but says “he should understand local people and local politics”. She added: “Maidstone’s Lib

Dems need to present our care- fully-agreed policies and cam- paigns. In this way we can continue to be unique and punch above ourweight. I amnow very buoyant about our future.” Lib Dems feature – page 28

Probe after riot at Maidstone Prison

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