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Supermarket idea for M20 park and ride site

A PLAN to build a Waitrose supermarket on Maidstone’s doomed park and ride site at Eclipse Park has been unveiled.

The £14m proposal would see a 29,000sqft store developed close to the new Next shop near M20 Junc- tion 7, bringing an anticipated 200 new jobs. The store would be more than twice the size of the existing 13,000sqft Waitrose in Allington Park, which the retailer says it is committed to retaining. Nick Yandle, chief executive of Gallagher Group, the developer be- hind the proposal, said Maidstone remains a key target for Waitrose, who would have built a store in nearby Newnham Court but for Maidstone Council refusing Land Securities’ application in June 2014. He said: “The investment in a

Waitrose store is a sign of confi- dence in the borough. It will rein- force Junction 7’s importance as a gateway to the Maidstone economy and will attract further investment and employment at Eclipse Park.”

Mr Yandle outlined the vision, pictured, to Boxley parish council- lors and residents ahead of a plan- ning application due to be submitted to Maidstone Council in late February. He said the single- storey building, next to the Tower- gate office block, would have a simple and contemporary design, in keeping with the surrounding re- tail and commercial units and would feature Kentish ragstone. The car park would provide 300 spaces, with two hours free parking for customers. Replying to concerns

RSPCA centre manager retires

CHRISTINE Dooley has retired as manager of the RSPCA’s Leybourne Animal Centre in West Malling. Christine (56), who opened the

Castle Way centre in 1996, has helped to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome about 35,000 animals in that time. She was previously deputy manager of the charity’s Southridge Centre in Potters Bar in a career with the RSPCA spanning 30 years.

Darren Parrish said: “The 6 RSPCA spokesperson

about traffic problems, Mr Yandle said that vehicles visiting the store would be spread throughout the day, whereas the park and ride traf- fic was condensed at peak times. No new highways work would be required, with shoppers using the existing access by the Chiltern Hundreds pub or the new junction near the Next store.

The existing park and ride facility closed on Saturday, February 6. If the plan is approved, building is expected to start in late 2016 with the store opening early in 2018.

Age UK faces budget cut


CORE services for the elderly are under threat, Age UK Maidstone haswarned. It follows a request to the organ- isation from KCC to cut its costs in West Kent by £10,000 next year. AgeUKsays it has not received a real-term increase from KCC in six years for the core services it pro- vides Kent’s elderly residents and already receives less per pensioner than anywhere else in the country. Age UK’s chief executive in Maidstone, Paul Coles said: “We have a good relationship with KCC’s adult services and under- stand it has difficult decisions to make to balance its budget, but we are already the poor relation to other voluntary service providers. “We are a lean organisation, so 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

this request to trim our funding needs further will translate into the closure of

5 Kent’s Most Awarded Optician

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February 2016 No. 226 News TV show request

MORE than 20,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a Maidstone footballer to host BBC’s Top Gear. 3

Shopping boost

WORK is to start on a major re- vamp of the historic Royal Star Arcade, Maidstone. 5

Open space vision

A NEW cafe and visitors centre is the key part of a project to boost Mote Park.

Youngsters concern

LOCAL playschemes could be axed as the borough council looks to cut costs.10

Obituaries Comment

POP icon David Bowie had an interesting link to Maidstone.

46-47 22

23 Crime Reports 24

A BURGLAR alarm frightened off raiders in Wateringbury.

Parish Councils 32-33

LORRIES were said to be leaving fast-food litter in Birling; urgent electrical work costing £1,600 was authorised for a clock in Ec- cles; a Ford television advert was featuring Kings Hill; a councillor in Mereworth called for the parish precept to rise by 25%; dog fouling was a nuisance in Wateringbury; deer shooting was causing concern in West Peckham.

Town Talk alk

A LOTTERY grant of up to £25,100 was awarded for All Saints’ Church in Snodland. For more details see Town Talk in the central pages of this month’s Downs Mail. The bi- monthly independent maga- zine is dedicated to Snodland and Halling residents.


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