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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - over 83,000 copies - 4 editions


Maidstone East Edition December 2013 No.200 ‘Iconic’ campus approved


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


Housing targets may have to rise


DOWNS Mail has learned that the number of new homes the Government will demand to be built inMaidstone in the period 2011 to 2031 is set to rise again. A year ago, Maidstone Coun-


“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.”


Local plan warning – page 6 George still in the driving seat at 100


AFTER 79 years on the road, Maidstone motorist George Nissen has just had his driving licence re- newed for two years – at the age of 100. The chipper centenarian, from Sandling, says keep-


ing the keys to his two-litre Mazda – which he has had for 23 years – is goodnews for himand wifeAnn(90), who doesn’t drive. “I’m so lucky I’m still able to do it,”


says George, who turned 100 on No- vember21. “People saywe could get help, butwelook afterourselves. The car means we can make local trips, like to the shops, which gives us our independence.” Cars have been in his blood since George was 14, when he worked for Crows Ltd in Maidstone – a whole- sale supplier of car spares and engi- neering parts. He started driving at 18, when he


was promoted to branch manager in Canterbury. George recalls: “One of the lads was asked to take


meoutontheDownstoteachmeto drive. Half-an-hour later, the jobwas done.At that time you didn’t have to take a test – theyweren’t introduced until 1935.” His first car – given to the company in lieu of a debt


–was French,with a handbrake on the running board. George would catch the old East Kent bus home to


Maidstone atweekends, until he started playing foot- ball forHerne Bay. He also played forKent Messenger and Maidstone United. When thewar started he signed up and rose to the rank of captain, driving a motor launch in the D-Day Landings. After the war, George remembers:


“Iwalked backin tomy old job as if I’d been away a couple of weeks. It was quite strange after somuchhad gone on. I married Ann and moved to the housewe bought in 1945 while Iwas in Hamburg, and herewe’ve stayed.” George continued with the com-


pany, retiring as a director at the age of 75. He is nowan activemember of Probus, a group for retired profes- sional businessman,and enjoys noth- ing more than being with his wife of 68 years. Sadly, both their sons died in their 50s.


Ann,whomoved from the Isle of Bute inScotland to


be with her husband, said: “It’s very important for us that George keeps his licence. I don’t know how we would manage otherwise. The bus used to pass our front door, but nowthere is no service at all.”


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cil raised its working target for the local plan from 10,800 to 14,800 over fears that the Gov- ernment would reject the lower figure. Now the Government is re- assessing needs throughout the UK based on the housing mar- ket and it is possible that the Maidstone figure will jump to about 18,000. Anumber of councils have re-


cently had their housing targets rejected for being too low. The local plan by Gravesham Coun- cil, in north Kent, is one that has been sent back to the draw- ing board after a planning in- spector raised “serious concerns” over its target of 4,800 homes. Maidstone Council’s new fig-


ure will be based on sub na- tional population projections as well as the housing market and will involve working with neighbouring Ashford and Ton- bridge &Malling councils as the market differs from one end of the borough to the other. The council’s cabinet will


agree its revised figure in Janu- ary and land allocations in Feb- ruary,whentheywillgoout for consultation. Should more homes be added


to the target, some of the hous- ing will be on brownfield sites, mostly in urbanMaidstone. But the amount of this land still available is reducing and it will accommodate only a small per- centage of new housing in the future. This would leave Maidstone Council no option but to locate new housing on greenfield sites around the borough.


Lib Dem leader Fran backed by party P12


Parent charity faces fight for survival


Probe after riot at town’s prison


P16 P32


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