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News |Waterside Park


downsmail.co.uk ‘Grotesque’ plan thrown out


TWO large companies in Marden were unable to persuade Maidstone Council’s planning com- mittee to accept theWaterside Park application, despite the threat of up to 450 job losses.


The committee refused Gallagher Group’s application to build a 17- hectare industrial estate south of M20 Junction 8 on land bounded by Old Mill Lane to thewest, Maid- stone Mercure Great Danes Hotel to the east, A20 roundabout to the north and River Len to the south. The site would have contained 105,000sqm of offices, industrial buildings andwarehousing, with a crèche and café. Derek Edwards, representing Automotive Distributors Ltd (ADL) and Scarab Sweepers, told the committee that both companies were outgrowing their headquar- ters at the Wheelbarrow Industrial Estate and wanted somewhere with better motorway links. The failure to permit Waterside


Park means ADL and Scarab are now likely to leave the borough when their tenancies end in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Mr Edwards read out a letter


from David Cassingham, the man- aging director of Scarab, who said: “Our business is going from strength to strength. The HGV weight limit through Marden


ADL


 Supplies parts for Japanese, Korean and American vehicle brands.  Recently became part of a family-owned German company called Febi Bilstein.  Projected 2014 turnover £84m (rising to £125m by 2016, claims the company).  Local employment costs £9m, it insists.  Has 230 local employees (company says it will employ an additional 100 over next three years).  Other spend in local economy is £3m through 10 main local suppliers.


SCARAB SWEEPERS


World’s largest manufacturer of single engine street sweepers.  220 employees in UK (company says 50more will be added over next few years).


Combined salaries for staff at both companies is £15m per year. FOR


Maidstone Council economic development; Mid Kent Cham- ber of Commerce; UK Trade and Investment Department; MP Helen Grant.


AGAINST Land earmarked for warehousing south of M20 Junction 8


means it is less than an ideal loca- tion.With the right site we would- n’t leave Maidstone; Waterside Park would be perfect.” Mr Edwards also read a state-


ment on behalf ofADL, which said: “We have outgrown Marden. In January we received 92 containers – a record number – that had to be transported by lorry through the centre of Maidstone. It makes no environmental sense to keep doing that. “If we are forced to move out to Sittingbourne or Ashford, it is Maidstone that would lose out in employment. We have looked and there are no other sites in Maid-


stone. There are plans to build many houses in the area, but peo- ple need jobs to buy them.” Cllr Mike Hogg was strongly in


favour of the development. He said: “By saying no, it sends out a message that Maidstone is closed for employment and will lose out to other parts of Kent. “Aylesford Newsprint [off M20


J6] is bigger than this. Yes, there may have been controversy when it was first built, but now it is part of the community. In the long term this will help Maidstone and help deal with the traffic problem – 1,200 lorry movements a year would not go through Maidstone.” Cllr Rodd Nelson-Gracie also backed the application, because ADL and Scarab are based in Mar- den, in theward he represents. However, therewere many more


not in favour of the proposal. Eight parish councils were in opposition and of the nine public speakers on the evening, eight were against. Eight committee members voted to refuse the plan. Cllr Richard Ash, local ward member for Bearsted, was a signif- icant member of the committee to voice his opposition. “This is con- trary to policy ENV28 and harms the character and appearance of the area by creating vertical platforms in a rural area. There would be so


MEMBERS were concerned about the extraction of 1.06 million tonnes of soil from the land to make it flat. Some of this would have been transferred elsewhere on the site, but the remaining 740,581 tonnes would have been removed through 80,000 lorry movements over the first two years – even before con- struction had begun. Another planning application for


an industrial estate on land off M20 J8 will be determined by the com- mittee. Roxhill Developments has submitted a plan for a 52,000sqm scheme on land at Woodcut Farm, north of theA20 – on land included in the 112-hectare KIG proposal turned down in August 2010.


12 Maidstone Town April 2014


Bearsted, Detling, Langley, Hollingbourne, Headcorn, Lang- ley, Leeds, and Thurnham parish councils; Leeds Castle Founda- tion; CPRE Protect Kent; KCC; Natural England; Kent Downs AONB unit; Joint Parishes Group; Maidstone Council land- scape officer; Maidstone Coun- cil conservation officer; KCC Cllr JennyWhittle; Kent Wildlife Trust; 30 individual objectors.


much remodelling that itwould de- stroy the landscape. “It is for an isolated greenfield


site that would erode the character of attractive, open and unspoilt countryside east of Bearsted. “The proposed buildings are


huge; they totallydwarf the nearby Mercure hotel.” Cllr Tony Harwood, another member of the committee, said: “I am not often shocked by the plan- ning applications we receive, but this is a grotesque proposal. This is a quarry in a rural area near a her- itage site [Leeds Castle]. “It’s like building an industrial


estate in front of the Pyramids or Stonehenge; it’s that bad. The scale of the buildings is enormous. “If you excavate 740,000 tonnes


to take off-site, the potential for ingress and swamping of the River Lenwould be disastrous. This com- mittee needs to convey the depth and power of opposition.”


Soil concerns Firms appeal against refusal


AN appeal has been lodged against the decision. A spokesman for Gallagher Group,ADLand Scarab Sweepers said: “With the prospect of ADL and Scarab Sweepers having to now relocate their 500 employees, with no alternative sites identified in the borough, it is felt that there is a strong case for an appeal. Jonathan Buckwell, director (planning) of DHA Planning, the Maidstone-based planning con- sultancy, which represents the three companies involved in Wa- terside Park, said: “We have lis- tened to the views of the


committee and, while the appeal is progressing, we will review the scheme with the possibility of submitting a new planning appli- cation.” Derek Edwards, ADL’s regional logistics director, said: “It is vital


Background reading FOR details of the proposals for land off M20 Junction 8, log on to www.downsmail.co.uk, click Read Online and go to Publication Archive. Open the East edition for January 2014and turn to page 43.


that every one of our and Scarab’s employees, and their families and dependents, knows that we are fighting to stay in Maidstone. “It is important for everybody concerned that an appeal is heard as soon as possible. “Our German parent company


is prepared to invest more than £20m in our Maidstone operations to create an international head- quarters and distribution centre from where we can serve our cus- tomers in 100 countries. “Despite the decision of the


local authority, we remain com- mitted toWaterside Park.”


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