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Shopping village ‘will keep customers local’

THE company behind the proposed redevelopment of Newnham Court Shopping Centre says the scheme will keep trade in Maidstone. Critics say Land Securities’ plan-

ning application to create a Wait- rose, Debenhams, rebuilt Notcutts and 17 retail units off M20 Junction 7 would, if accepted, badly harm the town centre. But ChrisWard, director at Land Securities, said: “By 2018 Bluewater is expected to lure £216m worth of consumer spending from the local area – some of that money could otherwise have been spent in Maid- stone’s shops. “An expanded Newnham Court Shopping Centre will ‘claw back’ £13.2m of this ‘leakage’. Mod- ernising Newnham Court Shop- pingVillage will not prevent strong retail growth in the town centre, but a failure to invest will seeMaid- stone lose out to massive develop- ments planned at Bluewater, Ashford and at other shopping

Town ‘not option’

DEBENHAMS says it decided against moving into town centre shopping centre The Mall because it was “not a viable opportunity”. Robert Hadfield, director of

property, said in an open letter that the company had “investi- gated a number of sites in and around the town centre, none of which were sustainable for our business”. He insists this decision was made “prior to any discus- sions on Newnham Court”.

hotspots around the county.” Within the next decade Bluewa-

ter is set to grow by 20%, while McArthur Glen wants to nearly double its Ashford Designer Outlet. Retail facilities are likely to be ex-

panded at Tonbridge and Tun- bridge Wells, while a large invest- ment scheme is planned at Kingsmead in Canterbury. MrWard added: “Neighbouring

towns are investing in better shop- ping facilities and more choice. Maidstone needs to grab invest- ment opportunities now or face a period of gradual decline for the re- tail sector in the county town.” Land Securities says it would in- troduce a legally binding “no poaching” commitment. “We have undertaken not to allow any re- tailer which is already present in Maidstone town centre to occupy space at Newnham Court,” Mr Ward said. “The only exceptions will be where the retailer intends to open a second store in the town [at Newnham Court] and to keep its existing store open.” Hengist to re-open

THE Hengist restaurant at Ayles- ford is set to reopen after a major refurbishment by its new owners. The venue in the High Street

closed last year after its owner Paul Smith took his life. The grade II listed building sold

at auction in November for £310,000. It is expected to relaunch in April. Teston-based Astounding Interi-

ors, who are overseeing the re-de- sign tweeted: “It’s going to look unique and incredibly stylish.”

Moorings plan

THE Environment Agency has been given planning permission to construct 50m of riverbank moor- ings at Allington Lock, Castle Road, Allington. A supporting statement said:

“We have ensured that as much of the natural riverbank remains ex- posed to the river as possible.”

Nine flats agreed

THE go-ahead was given by Maidstone Council for a scheme to convert upper floor offices into nine flats at Westbrook House, Albion Place, Maidstone.

Mobile police Councillors set to stand down

units backed CRIME Commissioner Ann Barnes has responded to criticism over the low use ofmobile police stations by making changes to where they call. Themobile police stations, or po-

lice contact points – where officers drive out to mainly rural locations to speak to the public – were intro- duced in July as one of the com- missioner’s manifesto pledges. However, since July, six mobile

police stations have visited 180 lo- cations twice, with just 1,308 visits from the public in the first few weeks. Mrs Barnes said: “I am con- fident that the right changes are in place and the mobile units are fast becoming a valuable and dynamic community asset.” She is hoping to encourage wider

use by calling for the mobile units to visit crime hotspots, town cen- tres and homes near burglary vic- tims. A team of 15 dedicated PCSOs

were introduced on February 10 to work on the mobile police stations and to boost foot patrols. Mrs Barnes added: “I believe you cannotmeasure how successful the mobile police stations are by statis- tics alone. There was no cost in buying the mobile police stations and they are offering a police pres- ence out in communities, increas- ing foot patrols.” But, she conceded, the units will remain under review.

10 Maidstone Town March 2014

THREE Tory stalwarts from south Maidstone have announced they are to stand down at the May elec- tions.

Formermayors Eric Hotson (Sta- plehurst) and Jenefer Gibson (Headcorn) will join Shepway North councillor Mike Yates in not seeking re-election to the bor- ough council. Cllr Hotson, who also sits on the county council, has been a mem- ber of Maidstone Council for 20 years. He is a member of the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board and of the strategic leader- ship and corporate overview and scrutiny committee. He is a former member of the cabinet and former

MAIDSTONE Council has applied to convert some of the Maidstone Museum site in St Faith’s Street, Maidstone into four flats. The council says that part of Chillington House, located be- tween the entrance to the adult ed- ucation centre and vacant former library, is now redundant since the museum was extended. The build- ingwas previously used by the mu- seum curator. A listed building application,

which will be determined by the council’s planning committee, seeks to create two one-bed and two two-bed flats.

Cllrs Eric Hotson, Jenefer Gibson and Mike Yates will not seek re-election

council leader. Cllr Gibson, who has been a member of the council for 28 years, is a member of the licensing and standards committees and the community, leisure services and environment overview and

scrutiny committee. Cllr Yates has been a member of

the council for 15 years and also sits on the licensing and commu- nity, leisure services and environ- ment overview and scrutiny committees.

Museum flats Tories move to new HQ

THE two Conservative associations serving Maidstone borough – Maidstone and The Weald and Faversham and Mid Kent – will move to a new home in April. Both have joined the West Kent

Group of Conservative associations to share office and administration costs. The group has been operating

from offices at West Malling for several years, serving just three as- sociations – Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells and Chatham andAylesford. From April it will be centrally lo-

cated in Paddock Wood, with An- drew Kennedy the agent.

Cllr John Wilson, chairman of Maidstone and The Weald, said: “This does not affect our opera- tional independence in anyway. “It merges back office functions

under one roof and brings a big saving. We can now spend our money on winning elections.” Maidstone and The Weald MP

Helen Grant shared the former as- sociation office in Albion Place, Maidstone, and has now estab- lished her own Maidstone office at Link House, Knightrider Court, Knightrider Street, Maidstone. Her Weald office is at TheWeald Infor- mation Centre, The Old Fire Sta- tion, Stone Street, Cranbrook.

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