The Southern Co-operative met with a frosty reception when it first revealed intentions to build a shop in Lenham.
Proposals to transform a fire-damaged ironmongers, in Faversham Road, were lodged with Maidstone council last Tuesday.
James Hambling, Director of landowners Ramac Holdings Ltd, said “We want to replace this genuine eyesore with a beautiful new building. There seems to be general agreement that the fire damaged structure needs to be redeveloped and also that a mix of retail and residential accommodation is the right solution for this sensitive location.”
Ramac and The Southern Co-operative had kept silent on the development for several months, making the recent submission a bigger blow to villagers who fiercely campaigned against it.
More than 200 people filled the community centre, off Groom Way, in November, to face representatives from the retailer and at least 100 residents joined a public protest against it in the High Street.
Thousands signed a petition and campaigners received support from TV personalities Ian Hislop and Carol McGiffin, who grew up in Maidstone.
Hugh Robertson, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, whose constituency office was above the ironmongers when the building was destroyed by an arson attack in October 2010, also spoke out against the plans.
Villagers had expressed hopes that the building would reopen as hardware outlet or as another independently-owned company.
Many traders also fear the presence of a chain and competitive prices could lead to their closure. Southern Co-operative plan to demolish the existing building to make way for the store and four two-bedroom flats above it.
The site would include one parking bay for each flat and 11 spaces for shoppers. Up to six deliveries would be made each day.
The potential increase in traffic was voiced as a major concern by neighbours.
Matthew Cockell, of Lenham Village Stores, off The Square, said: “We’re definitely not admitting defeat, far from it. We’re asking all of our customers to lodge their objection to the plans and we’d encourage everyone else in the village to do the same."
The application has offered some light relief to members of GDC School of Dancing, which occupies a single-storey building behind the earmarked plot. Owner Karen Day feared her studio would be closed but Ramac has offered her a new three-year lease.
People can view and comment on the plans by visiting www.maidstone.gov.uk and searching for reference number 13/1571. The public consultation will end on Friday, October 11.