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Home Maidstone News Article
Around 90 people attended a public exhibition this week on plans by developers Roxhill to create a commercial business park close to junction 8 of the M20, despite poor publicity for the event.
The company’s proposed site lies between the A20 and M20 on part of the land formerly put forward for the rejected Kent International Gateway scheme.
The initial bid indicates 14 separate buildings with parking, but no planning application has yet been submitted.
Mary Richards, secretary of the Bearsted and Thurnham Society, was among those who attended the exhibition at the Mercure Great Danes Hotel yesterday.
The society had quickly contacted its 900 members after hearing about the event less than a week earlier.
She said: “We are horrified this has come forward, though not surprised.
“The site north of the A20 is in the foreground of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is one of the reasons the appeal inspector gave for rejecting the previous KIG application.
“This is a smaller scale to KIG, but we know it would just be the start.
"You can just see what would happen with all the development spreading east from junction 7 and now this spreading west from junction 8.”
The society pointed out that when Maidstone council spent £1.7m opposing the KIG application, one of the reasons it gave was that it was seeking to attract more highly-paid employment opportunities to Maidstone, not just warehousing.
Mrs Richards said: “There was very little detail at the exhibition, although the landscape consultants had clearly been busy.
"There were plans with lots of blue splodges labelled ‘water bodies’, which we took to be ponds.”
Roxhill issued a release saying: “We appreciate that the exhibition was held at short notice and in the run-up to Christmas when many people are busy.
"There will be another exhibition in the New Year before we submit a planning application.
“The location, just off the M20, is ideal for many commercial operations that need easy access to the national motorway network.
"It also limits the impact of commercial traffic which might otherwise go into Maidstone.
“The new commercial business park would play a key role in attracting new businesses, and jobs, to the Maidstone area.
"It will also provide opportunities for existing local companies to take advantage of an improving economy to expand while remaining in the area and safeguarding existing local jobs.”
The company’s managing director Jason Dalby said: “The feedback from the public attending the exhibition will be considered by our project development team before a second exhibition planned for January.”
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