Shop plans for ‘wasted’ rail station buildings

SHOPS, cafes and community spaces could move into the empty buildings at Hollingbourne and Bearsted railway stations. Regeneration plans are now being considered as the county starts to get back to normality. The Kent Community Rail Part- nership (KCRP) has been examin- ing ways to bring the unused buildings into permanent use. The buildings, owned and main-

tained by Network Rail, are among a number at 13 stations the KCRP are considering uses for. A community shop/coffee shop and taxi rank may be viable at Hollingbourne, according to a local councillor.

North Downs borough member

Patrik Garten (pictured) said: "The buildings at the station are wasted. The idea would be to have a com- munity shop/coffee shop and a taxi service to the Great Danes (Mer- cure) hotel and Leeds Castle.

"The idea itself is a few years old and everything has been put on hold during the COVID-19 crisis, but we have to get the ball rolling now. They are attractive buildings in a great location with parking, so why not?"

Cllr Garten says he is to write to

the new Leeds Castle chief execu- tive, Helen Bonser-Wilton, to argue the case for Hollingbourne to be the stop for the tourist attraction. However,

in normal times

Bearsted carries 360,000 customers annually and Hollingbourne just 60,000.

Bearsted, which saw passenger

use plunge by 60% during COVID- 19, could support a permanent li- brary, shop and cafe. Parish council discussions with Network Rail to acquire the nearby coal yard are ongoing.

Other KCRP stations, such as

East Malling, may be enhanced by the use of artwork.

News Crash arrest

A LEYBOURNE man who was arrested following a hit and run accident has been released. A motorcyclist was taken to a London hospital on May 22 after colliding with a pick-up truck in West Malling High Street. The driver reportedly failed to

stop at the scene and police later launched an appeal for wit- nesses. He was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Homes plan

MAJOR changes are planned for Colman House at 10 King Street, Maidstone,

A planning application has been submitted for the second floor to be converted from offices to six residential units plus the creation of six terraced homes.

Vicar to retire

THE Rev Peter Callway, whose benefice includes the five parishes of Coxheath, Linton, Hunton, East and West Farleigh, is to retire in September after eight years in the post.

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