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Maidstone East Edition


downsmail.co.uk


Maidstone & Malling’s No. 1 newspaper


February 2018


Sold: LeedsCastle’s ancientwoodlands


A HUGE tract of woodland around Leeds Castle has been sold, Downs Mail has learnt.


Ten lots totalling 453 acres have


been sold to multiple purchasers via a firmof Buckinghamshire land agents. The combined asking price was


close to £2mwith individual pieces costing up to £490,000. Heather Harris, of John Clegg &


Co, confirmed that “six or seven” buyers had taken all 10 lots and that there was a mixture of local and outside interest. The sales are in process of being


completed and are subject to sur- veyors’ reports. Mrs Harris said it was not her


company’s policy to comment on the prices paid. The woodland – hugely popular


withwalkers, horse riders and dog owners – belongs to the family of Leeds Castle’s former owner, the American heiress Lady Olive Bail- lie.


On her death in 1974, Lady Bail-


lie bequeathed LeedsCastle and its grounds to a charitable trust to en- able it to be enjoyed bymembers of the public. The owner - who spent a large


portion of her inherited fortune on the restoration of the castle and its associated buildings - left the re- mainder of the land to her family. Last September, when the land


was put up for sale, the agents said: “The property and 500 acres of


Buyers have snapped up large swathes of woodland around Leeds Castle and, inset, the castle’s former owner, Lady Olive Baillie


grounds were bequeathed to the LeedsCastle Founda t ion,


while the rest of the estate re- mained in the Baillie family,which is now offering the woodlands for sale.” The land – which includes most,


if not all, of the King’sWood from Broomfield to Chegworth and be- yond, as well as the Abbey Wood which lies fromLangley through to


Kingswood – is protected from building development by law. Woodland normally appreciates


in value but the only viable indus- try allowed on the land is coppic- ing to sell wood, the income from which is free of taxation. Within days of the land going on


the market, a large “Woodland For Sale” sign appeared, together with others stating the land to be pri- vate. In reality, the ‘for sale’ board was ripped down weeks later and users of the King’s Wood routinely ignore demands to keep out of the areas not designated as public foot- paths. The woodland has become a


BEST WISHES FOR 2018


haven for many wildlife species in- cluding the return of a small num- ber of roe deer. Buzzards and red kites are also seen regularly. Some local walkers have reported evi- dence of wild boar within a mile of the castle.


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Church faces future


A VICAR has warned Otham and Langley parishes may perish for lack of money.


TESCO’S filling station at Grove Green is getting a re- vamp.


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Filling station revamp 12


Family fringe festival


MUSIC will fill the streets of Maid- stone as part of this year’s Fringe Festival.


16 Parish Councils 32-34


A N EXTENSION to the playing fields’ car park in Leeds was in progress; fears were expressed a Leeds-Langley by-pass could turn Hollingbourne into a rat run; the date for the next Ulcombe litter pick has been set; a new councillor has been co-opted to the parish council at Otham; CCTV cameras are needed in Leedsto prevent dumping.


Crime Reports 34


A GARDEN in Broomfield was tar- geted twice by thieves when orna- ments were taken; cash was stolen from a house break-in at Bearsted; tools were stolen from a shed in Otham; gardening equipment was stolen from a shed in Bearsted; two chainsaws were taken in Boxley.


Obituaries 36 Comment 46-47


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FREE No. 250 News


Runners’ successes


TWO local teenage athletes have been blazing a trail on the tracks with more notable suc- cesses.


Life for murder pair


TWO Maidstone men are facing life behind bars for killing a homeless Romanian.


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