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Roxhill names its plans for Junction 8 of the M20 the "Maidstone Gateway"

10 February 2014
by Alan Smith

Development company Roxhill held a second exhibition of its plans for a commercial business park near Junction 8 of the M20.

But the company seems to have committed a PR disaster be naming the development the Maidstone Gateway.

The name only emphasises to local residents that it is on the site of the much maligned Kent International Gateway scheme, which virtually the whole of Maidstone united to oppose four years ago, and which cost the local authorities £3m to defeat at a public inquiry.

The plans sparked some hot debate

The plans sparked some hot debate

The exhibition at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel at Hollingbourne last Wednesday was attended by around 60 villagers.

Roxill said it had refined its plan following feedback from an earlier exhibition last December, but the public observed little difference.

Brian Clifford of the Bearsted and Thurnham Society said: “There were no obvious changes. What is clear is that the company is planning a huge regional warehouse distribution centre.

“I asked them how goods would be distributed north and south from the centre; they had no answer.

“I asked them if they had considered siting at junction 10 at Ashford where they want this sort of thing, they said no.

“I asked if they had any tenants for the buildings, they said no.”

Members of the public examine Roxhill's display

Members of the public examine Roxhill's display

Mr Clifford said: “The whole thing just makes me so angry.

“The developers at Eclipse Park couldn’t find tenants for the offices there, that’s why we ended up with a Next store. There will be no demand for offices at Junction 8 either.”

Roxhill’s managing director Jason Dalby said: “The proposal now includes revised site constraints showing how there will be no further development permitted to the west of the site; and further details on transport considerations and highways improvements.”

Mary Richards was one of those visiting the exhibition. She said: “There’s no way this will ever be acceptable to local residents.”

Mrs Richards said it was vital that Maidstone council got on with the job of producing its Local Plan. Unless it did so, there would always be the risk that development would spread east from junction 7 and west from junction 8 creating one huge development sprawl.

“We live in fear,” she said.

The park will provide approximately 500,000 sq ft of office and warehouse space, across 14 separate buildings.

Among those objecting are Hollingbourne Parish Council, Kent County Council, Leeds Castle, Hugh Robertson MP, and the CPRE.

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