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News Traders against shopping village

TOWN centre traders have given the thumbs down to the proposed £85m shopping village at Newnham Court, Bearsted.

More than 70 retailers attended

two public meetings to hear Land Securities’ proposals for redevel- opment of the site, which is ex- pected to create more than 1,500 jobs, in addition to 250 during the construction phase. Despite assurances from Land Securities’ Chris Ward that there would be “no poaching” of town centre shops and that traffic con- gestionwould be eased with a £6m investment in road improvements, Maidstone Town Centre Manage- ment remains opposed to the scheme and has sent its objections

Bluebell walk

JOIN the Heart of Kent Hospice for its 27th Bluebell Walk – a six-mile circular route through the heart of Kent’s beautiful countryside when the bluebells should be at their best. The walk on May 4 starts at Har- rietsham village hall and entry costs £10 per adult, £3 per child or £25 for a family of two adults and three children.Aploughman’s lunch is in- cluded. There will also be cake, craft and fruit stalls. Parking is free. Walkers can register at, by emailing or calling 01622 790195. Registrations will be accepted on the day, and walkers can sign in from 9am.

No to extension

APROPOSED two-storey side ex- tension to a residential property at 70 Sheppey Road has been turned down.

Maidstone Council’s decision

notice said the scale of the plan would have harmed the character and appearance of the local area, and would had an overbearing im- pact on residents of 68 Sheppey Road.

to the council’s planning depart- ment. At the heart of the scheme is a 6,980sqm Debenhams store, a 3,919sqm Waitrose supermarket and an enlarged Notcutts garden centre. TCMcompany secretary Graeme

Wyles said: “Town centre busi- nesses are understandably con- cerned at the huge shopping centre complex being proposed for Newnham Court. “They suggest that establishing a

‘quasi town centre’ about a mile from the existing town centre

makes little strategic sense.” TCM is also concerned at the

lack of parking provision – just 901 spaces – which could lead to park- ing in nearby residential streets or an abuse of the park and ride car park on Old Sittingbourne Road. Mr Ward produced figures to

show that town centre tradewould grow by almost £200m over the next decade, leaving plenty of room, both in the town and out, for all types of retail to thrive. Town centre manager Bill Moss

said the development, near junc- tion 7 of the M20, would harm

Charity needs drivers

DEMAND for help with transport from frail residents in Maidstone and Malling has led to a call for volunteer drivers. Voluntary Action Maidstone’s transport scheme has become increas-

ingly important for those needing a lift to appointments at Maidstone and Tonbridge Wells Hospitals, to make social visits and for shopping. Project manager Danny Hewis

said: “Our drivers are a life-line to so many people who would otherwise remain in their homes and not ac- cess services. This project helps to re- claim independence.” Drivers, who agree to collect and

wait up to an hour before taking clients home, have their mileage covered as part of the scheme. If you have a car and some free time, live inMaidstone or Malling and

would like to help older people and those with mobility issues, call 01622 756 662 or email or

Insurance fraud

HEARISH Hassan (27), of Tarragon Road, Maidstone, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaidwork at Mid Kent Magistrates Court after he admitted fraud by making a false insurance claim. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Bid to fell tree

CONSERVATION area consent is sought to remove a sycamore tree in Bolingbroke House at 21 Lon- don Road, Maidstone. The application says the tree’s

roots are damaging a wall and lift- ing paving slabs. Maidstone Council will determine.

Duke to open town’s new hospital

HRH Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, was due to officially open KIMS – the new hospital in Maidstone. The Queen’s cousin (left) wasto

visit the Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery onWednesday, April 2 to perform the official opening as a representative of Her Majesty. The £85m hospital near junction

7 of the M20 has been six years in the planning and almost two years in construction. The independently-owned pri-

vate tertiary hospital will offer some services to the NHS by

50 Maidstone Town April 2014

agreement with hospital trusts and NHS commissioning bodies. Covering seven acres, KIMS will serve


catchment area of 1.7 million pa- tients and employ more than 350 clini- cians. Work is to

start on the adjacent

Maidstone Medical Campus,

which will offer a medical training centre with graduate and post graduate teaching facilities for doctors and nurses, plus student accommodation, in conjunction with lead universities, research and development facilities, aswell as a neurological rehabilitation and care centre, a paediatrics unit and awomen’s health unit. Details of the duke’s itinerary

have not yet been announced, but he is expected to be shown around the hospital by the Dickmann fam- ily, who have been the instigators of the scheme

trade in the town centre,was inap- propriate for the location and would cause traffic congestion. He said alternative sites in the town centre were available and named the Maidstone East Station site as the preferred location. But Mr Ward said this site had

been available for development for at least 15 years and had been re- jected as unsuitable by most of the major supermarket chains. Aplanning application has been submitted by Land Securities and a decision is to be made by Maid- stone Council.

Help for new

businesses ENTREPRENEURS have a new re- source at their disposal in Maid- stone to help them launch their own business. The Enterprise Foundation is providing affordable work desks, grants, workshops, signposting and support at the refurbished Medvale House on Mote Road – previously the HM Passport and HMRC offices. The charity is specifically hoping

to help the out-of-work, under 30s, over 50s and those with disabilities, aswell as ex-Service personnel. The £90,000 refurbishment of the 5,800sqft Maidstone centre has been funded by the charity and of- fers its members free wifi, casual meeting space, formal training rooms and regularworkshops. It is only the third centre of its

kind to be opened by the charity in the UK. Chief executive Keith Powney

said: “Speaking from personal ex- perience, starting a new business can be tough. This is why we want to provide a professional but nur- turing environment for new busi- nesses to base themselves from. “We also want to find people

who have a great idea and just need an extra bit of guidance and sup- port.” Find out more by logging on to or calling 0300 1231060.

Smoke alert

A 77-YEAR-OLD man was treated by firemen after being over- whelmed by smoke at a Tovil flat. The man was given oxygen be-

fore being taken by ambulance from the Tovil Green Court retire- ment home to Tonbridge Wells Hospital. The smokewas caused by an unattended pan, but did not re- sult in a fire.

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