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News Village’s plan

gets go-ahead VILLAGERS in Staplehurst have ap- proved their own Neighbourhood Plan to challenge the borough coun- cil over development decisions in future. More than a third of homeowners

turned out to return the resounding ‘Yes’ vote. Votingwas as follows:

Votes cast: 1,586 (33.77% turnout) Yes: 1,468 (92.56%) No: 118 (7.44%) The referendum result will be re- ported to Maidstone Borough Council’s full council in December, when the Staplehurst Neighbour- hood Plan will be adopted. Aspokesman for the parish coun-

cil’s Neighbourhood Plan Group thanked all those who voted. The plan can be viewed at ghbourhood_forum1.aspx, with hard copies available to view at the parish office and at Staplehurst li- brary.

Call to players MONDAY Badminton Club, based at New Line Learning Academy, Loose, is on the lookout for new members. The club meets from 7.30pm to 9.30pm on Mondays. Call 0770 900244.

Eclipse Park plan for £14m store is agreed

A £14M Waitrose will be built at Eclipse Park in Maidstone near the M20. Members of Maidstone Borough Council's planning committee ap- proved the new food store – thought to be the biggest in the county – by 10 votes to one. If work goes ahead according to

plan, the new shop, near junction seven of the M20, is unlikely to open before spring 2018 but could create more than 200 local jobs. Cllr David Burton, chairman of

MBC's Strategic Planning, Sustain- ability and Transport committee, sought to play down fears of traffic problems in an already busy road network. The member for Marden and

Yalding told Downs Mail: “You can balance an increase in movements with the fact that the park and ride is not there any more. “Whilst the store will bring some

more traffic, we have got some money to improve that junction.” Kent County Council had offered some observations about traffic

build-ups in the area, but withdrew its concerns when pledges were made to provide bus routes to and from the store. Arriva will operate the services to

stops on the Bearsted Road on the existing 333 and 334 services. Cllr Burton said that shoppers tended to use the nearest and most convenient food store to where they live, but could see customers coming from areas such as Vinters Park, Penenden Heath and Grove Green, which already has a large and popular Tesco. The Waitrose will sit alongside other chains such as Next and

Hilton at Eclipse Park. Other sites considered included

Baltic Wharf on St Peter’s Street and the empty Royal Mail sorting office site in central Maidstone, al- though none was thought to offer the same as the sitewhich is owned by Gallagher Properties. A Waitrose spokesman said:

“The proposed food store serves a different catchment to Allington Park, and analysis suggests there would be limited overlap of trade between the two locations.” It is estimated that construction

will take nine months, plus a two- month internal fit-out.



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