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ASDA pulls out of station deal

Maidstone East car park and station

Maidstone East car park and station

There are doubts over the redevelopment of Maidstone’s East Station after ASDA confirmed it had no immediate plans to open a food store in the town.

It is the latest blow to a planned £50 million revamp, which was originally intended to be finished at the same time as the Fremlin Walk shopping centre, in 2005.

Seven years ago the plan was to rebuild the station with a Waitrose Food and Home store, then ASDA signed a deal with Network Rail to rebuild the station. Now, after the announcement of an ASDA Living store being built as part of a hotel development in Maidstone, the station deal is off.

Tom McGarry, property communications manager, said: “We have no immediate plans for a food store in Maidstone.”

Network Rail insist the station revamp will still go ahead but refused to give any details.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Network Rail remains committed to redeveloping the station and adjacent land at Maidstone East.”

Last April Network Rail announced that property company Kier would be its development partner to improve six stations across the south east.

Kier could give no details of when work would start.

Meanwhile, plans to transform the derelict Army and Navy store in Week Street into shops, a cafe and housing are also on hold.

In April last year, planning permission was given to property company Kilmerlin Danesmount, which owns the32,000 sq ft building, to demolish it and build shops and flats.

Martyn Guess, chief executive of Kilmerlin Danesmount, said: “We have had good interest from retailers, but it is just so tough at the moment and we have not been able to get bank funding.

“We are still working on the scheme and we are hoping a start can be made later in the year.

“The recession is absolutely devastating, this is one of hundreds of schemes all over the country which have been put on hold.”

Talks are still in place between The Mall Chequers and three national retailers about new empty retail space in King Street, part of the shopping centre.

Paul Alcock, general manager for The Mall Chequers, said: “Discussions are still at an early stage.

“The economic situation means we have had to offer higher incentives than we predicted.”

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