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


gationmeasures include the cre- ation 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 re- search 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 20 You can help to care for homeless


DOWNS Mail is inviting our readers to join in a cam- paign to protect and care for the town’s homeless this Christmas and winter. It is simple. All you need to do to help is give a little


food,timeormoney. The new Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter and


MaidstoneDayCentre campaignwillofferawarmwel- come overnight for the homeless in the winter. Churchmembers and other volunteers in seven par- ticipating churches will provide anevening meal, shel- ter for the night and support towards a better future. The campaign is supported byMaidstone Salvation


Army through MajorGrayson Williams and Maidstone andWealdMPMrsHelen Grant, nowminister of sport and equalities, who plans to help in the churches. This is howDownsMail readers can showtrue sea-


sonal spirit to help ensure success: Food: Non-perishable food can be taken to The Sal- vation Army, 74-80 Union Street, Maidstone.


Maidstone and the WealdMP Helen Grantwith Major Grayson Williams of the Salvation Army


Time:Volunteersare needed to help at the churches (www.maidstoneshelter.org.uk/volunteer.php)  Money: It is easy to make a donation online or by text (www.maidstoneshelter.org.uk/donate.php).


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Fran stays on COUNCILLOR FranWilson has won a power battle within her group and will remain leader of the Lib Dems. Members gave her an “over- whelming vote of confidence” in a meeting of the group.


Full story – page 23


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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. Ayear ago, Maidstone Council


raised its working 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 re- assessing needs throughout the UK based on the housing market and it is possible that the Maid- stone figure will jump. The council may have to con-


sider adding 2,000 to 4,000 to the figure to satisfy perceived current Government requirements but will also work powerfully on a case to justify to an inspector a substantial reduction in number of houses to be built in this 20- year period. A number 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 drawing board after a planning inspector raised “serious concerns” over its target of 4,800 homes. Maidstone Council’s new fig-


ure will be based on sub national population projections aswell as the housing market and will in- volveworking with neighbouring Ashford and Tonbridge & Malling councils as the market differs from one end of the bor- ough to the other. The council’s cabinet will agree its revised fig- ure in January and land alloca- tions in February,whentheywill go out for consultation. Should more homes be added


to the target, some will be on brownfield sites, mostly in urban Maidstone. But the amount of this land still available is reduc- ing andit will accommodate only a small percentage of new hous- ing in the future. This would leave Maidstone Council no op- tion but to locatenewhousing on greenfield sites around the bor- ough.


Centenarian still in the driving seat


P3


Backing for turbines and solar farms


P19


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