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News


downsmail.co.uk Council ‘to build on playareas’


TOP officials atMaidstone Borough Council are consideringways to build houses on its parks and playgrounds, DownsMail has learnt. MBC is


seeking to sell off


parcels of land or acquire plots for the development of “larger scale projects with partners from the private sector or from the social housing sector”.


The Liberal Democrat-run au- thority, hit by a central govern- ment


squeeze recognises through on funding, the need to create


more homes and to “generate long-term revenue returns to the council


homes formarket rent”.


According to restricted paper- work seen by Downs Mail, tax- payer-funded consultants Gen2


were commissioned to undertake Downswood and Otham, Cox- a


“property asset MBC’s 200 plots.


Sites which have been identi- fied include those in the centre of the county town, Loose, Bearsted,


review” of


heath andHunton,Allington and Shepway.


Fant,Headcorn, Barming, Boxley, Ground;


Among the play areas identi- fied are at Quarry Square, Maid- stone; Mangravet Rosemary


Bearsted and Snowdon Avenue. In certain cases, lost facilitiesmay be “re-provided” elsewhere.


Open spaces up for possible de- velopment include land at Park


Recreation Wood Recreation Ground, Park Road


GEN 2’s list of 200 council plots re- sulted in a shortlist of 33 siteswhich we have broken down into the cate- goriesdependingontheofficers’as- sessments – likely, possible and unlikely.


Likely


Units 1-12GranadaHouse – being considered for the “TownCentreOp- portunity Areas” project;


Farleigh Hill Landfill – to be leased to Hayle Park Nature Reserve with longer-termdevelopment potential; 8 Quarry Square – Not a Strategi- cally Important Play Area (SIPA) with an opportunity to “reprovide” the playground;


MangravetRecreationGround– to be considereddespitehavingaSIPA; Maidstone Indoor Bowls andMaid- stone Leisure Centre – to be consid- ered


separately expires in 2024;


Union Street – development under- Possible way.


Brunswick Street – development underway;


Former Royal Mail depot – joint venture plannedwith KCC;


SnowdonAvenue open space – not a SIPA.


over undeveloped land;


32B, 34, 34A & 35 High Street – part of another scheme;


8 Maidstone January 2019 redevelopment 71 Woolley Road – area next to after


The sites up for consideration Unlikely


Kingswood Disposal Site – consid- ered too rural;


Appledore Court – a SIPA;


Allington recreation ground – a “well-usedfacility”unlikely tobe suit- able;


Gatland Lane playing field – well- ingNatural Beauty (AONB);


111 Tonbridge Road – an “unac- ceptable backland development”; Maidstone Canoe, Tennis and other sports clubs,Whatman Park – access “difficult”, amenitieswould have to be “reprovided”;


Fant Community Hall – well-used with “no obvious merit” in replace- ment;


contract land already in Local Plan;


Rosemary Road play area – not a SIPA, nearMote Park.


nity Arts Centre, Shepway –a amenities; longer-termproject;


Hillary Hall Harmony Commmu-


Heather House – to be considered separately;


Abingdon Road open space – left Maidstone Skills and Community Centre – occupied by KCC under a


lease until 2026.


ThaiOrchid Restaurant/Broadway kiosk – part of a larger town centre redevelopment plan;


Burial Ground Road recreation area – ex-landfill, unsuitable;


Gallants Lane, East Farleigh –well- used SIPA;


22 Cornwallis Ave, Linton – SIPA with housing planning permission; Gordon Court Loose – too far from


16North Street, Barming – a “con- strained site” and unviable;


Beaumont Road, Fant – a “con- strainedsite”behindexistinghomes. George Marsham House garages and car park – “unlikely to be vi- able”;


RichmondWay openspace –under a 99-year lease.


Veitch land – an Area of Outstand- Warning over used areawith a SIPA;


leaked papers


MAIDSTONE Borough Council’s chief executiveAlison Broomtold councillors in an email she was “disappointed” to see papers – which were marked restricted – appear on the Daily Downs Mail website.


Mrs Broom, pictured above, warned that such an alleged dis- closure by an elected member could breach the code of conduct. But she did concede there are exceptions, in caseswhere disclo- sure is “reasonable and in the public interest”.


Mrs Broom warned: “Any alle- gations of breaches of the code of conduct will be investigated by the monitoring officer, in accor- dancewith the constitution.” AnMBC source said: “The sen- ior guys didn’twant thismaterial to come out, but it is quite clearly in the public interest and soon to be in the public domain.”


in Wood, and land on Farleigh Hill developing


(to be leased to the Hayle Park Nature Reserve Trust) “in the longer term”. Abingdon Road in Heath andWoolleyRoad in Shep- way are also listed.


Many plots are deemed unsuit- able for further action. The


council marked “not paperwork – for publication” -


does identify risks in the review. It states: “There are a range of risks associated with adopting some or all of the recommenda- tions in the PropertyAssetReview – including political, financial and operational risks.These need to be balanced against the risks … of doing nothing.”


Officers, particularly chief exec- utive Alison Broom, wanted to keep the information secret but councillors argued successfully to have the debate in public, proba- bly in January.


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