Proposals for an £85m revamp of the centre of Tonbridge have been cautiously welcomed by the public.
More than 900 feedback forms were completed during two days of exhibitions at Tonbridge Caste in October, held by Sainsbury’s and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.
The multi-million pound plans for the Botany Area of the town include a Sainsbury’s store, shops and a multi-screen cinema.
The proposed cinema for Tonbridge town centre
The joint venture between the council and Sainsbury’s also aim to build a new leisure and community centre on the Bradford Street car park, replacing the Angel Centre and built at no cost to the taxpayer.
It is hoped the plans will kick start the regeneration of the town centre, creating 300 jobs.
At the exhibitions, attended by about 1,500 people, about 65% of feedback forms supported Sainsbury’s proposals.
These include an additional 842 car parking spaces, a petrol station, retail units, restaurants and the cinema.
Yet only 46% of respondents said they either welcomed the council’s leisure centre proposals, with another 23% saying they ‘maybe’ wanted them.
The proposed Bradford Street Leisure Centre in Tonbridge
This includes a three-court, multi-purpose sports hall, gym and fitness studio.
Many residents raised concerns about parking provision and whether tenants for shops can be easily secured.
Council leader Cllr Nicolas Heslop said: “We were delighted that so many people attended the exhibitions and took the time to complete a feedback form and tell us their views.
“We value the comments of our residents and businesses and will do our best to reflect the constructive comments that people have made.”
Sainsbury’s portfolio development manager Ross Castle said: “We are really pleased with the feedback received so far. Over the next couple of months we will continue to review and address the comments in detail before finalising the plans”.
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