Kings Hill airfield proposals are no flight of fancy
Aviation history is being restored to the heart of a
business and residential park built on a former RAF fighter
Liberty Property Trust UK, the developer and management company
for Kings Hill, West Malling, wants to tell the story of the
airfield that became operational in the First World War and played
a role in the Battle of Britain in 1940. It later hosted the
Warbirds air show and a number of aviation businesses.
Liberty has sought a commercially viable way of doing it.
As part of a £5 million project to complete the central area,
which includes Liberty Square, the community hub, it is considering
a visitor centre in the original control tower, now a listed
It would be combined with commercial activity such as retail and
a coffee shop.
Andrew Blevins, managing director, is concerned that the central
area is still not completed. He said: "The job's only half done and
if we were back at school, I think I'd get a 'could do better'.
"It's not quite right at the moment and we've got an opportunity
to make it better."
Liberty is working with a consultant on a revised masterplan for
the area. "If all goes according to plan, we will bring the control
tower back into economic and cultural use. It needs to have an
economic use and speak to its history."
The go-ahead would depend on support from all the Kings Hill
He said a visitor centre would recall the history of the
airfield. "If we get that balance between some sort of
retail/commercial use and the cultural historical use, I think that
would do it justice. I think the public will be supportive of
Manchester-based HOW Planning is advising Liberty on the
proposal, developing a masterplan for the mixed development of
residential, commercial, retail, sports, leisure and education
uses. It will include detailed plans for the aircraft control
Since it took charge of the Kent County Council-owned site in
the early 1990s, Liberty has placed culture alongside commerce.
It established the Rouse Kent Public Art Award, so-called after
the developer's original name which derived from Bill Rouse, the
late founder of the parent company in Philadelphia and mayor of
Now known as Liberty, the business has also created a new
cricket pitch that will open for play this summer and built a
"It was not a planning obligation but we think it's the right
thing to do," said Mr Blevins.