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Cash boost towards regeneration of town


New president THE new president of the Inner Wheel, Maidstone, is Sue Kinsman of Bearsted.


Work begins on


fast food outlet WORK will start on a McDonald’s in the town at the end of July. The fast food outlet – the com-


pany’s fourth in the Maidstone area – will be a drive-thru and a restau- rant, with seating for 170 diners. The 8,000sqft two-storey restau-


rant will be built on the site of the Renault Garage on the junction of Tonbridge Road and Hart Street. Due to open in December, it will open from 6am to midnight and will generate 100 full and part-time jobs.


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MONEYto help ease congestion in Maidstone town centre could be a shot in the arm for Maidstone Council’s regeneration plans. Maidstone is one of the beneficiar-


ies of £104m being given to Kent to boost jobs and transport schemes under the Government’s “growth deal”.


Included in the grant is £8.9m for


the Maidstone integrated transport strategy, plus a further £4.56m to- wards a Maidstone gyratory bypass to help overcome congestion and de- lays in the town centre. Afurther £2.19m will go towards widening the bridge over theM20at Larkfield to ease traffic flows at J4, and £2m to provide sustainable ac- cess to Maidstone employment areas, including a cycle path along the River Medway from East Far- leigh toAylesford. Countywide, £4.8m has been


given to the Kent strategic conges- tion management programme and £900,000 towards sustainable access to education and employment. The money was won by the Kent


& Medway Economic Partnership – the local arm of the South East Local EnterprisePartnership, which brings together leaders from business, local government and education to boost economic growth. Paul Carter, leader of KCC and


board member of SELEP and the Kent & Medway Economic Partner- ship, said: “This is good news that the Government has announced transport schemes in Kent which will help support transport infra- structure across the county. “As we come out of recession, housing growth will accelerate and commerce will increase.” Work on the Maidstone gyratory bypass and the M20 overbridge is scheduled to start in 2015/6, while the Maidstone integrated transport spendwould come a year later. The town centre bypass scheme


would see the construction of two northbound lanes, enabling north- bound traffic on the A229 to bypass the existing gyratory system over the Medway to reduce journey dis- tances, travel time and congestion.


However, some members already


fear for Maidstone’s “green” future. Cllr Tony Harwood said: “We all


know from repeated bitter experi- ence that highways officers have lit- tle interest in pedestrians, air quality or the local landscape, with the spine road being a particularly brutal ex- ample which severed the town and destroyed an attractive river frontage.” He is urging fellow borough Cllr


Ian Chittenden, who is also a mem- ber of KCC, to set up a cross-council meeting between Kent Highway Services and the affectedward coun- cillors covering High Street and Northwards to ensure that any final scheme addresses pedestrian and cyclist safety and protects trees and verges, as well as more greenery to soften the “rather grim riverside”. Cllr Harwood added: “I fear ifwe


do not have a meaningful input we will end up with a brutal multi-lane highway destroying what’s left of our riverside and creating a physical and psychological barrier for pedes- trian movement.”


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