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Boxley Parish Council criticises lack of affordable housing in TV studios homes plan

By Alan Smith

Boxley Parish Council is objecting to revised plans for a housing development in front of Maidstone Studios.

Permission was granted in July 2009 for 142 homes on the studios’ car park, west of New Cut Road, Maidstone, most of which were going to be in blocks of flats, but the development was never built.

Now Hillreed Homes has submitted a new application looking instead to build 54 houses and 23 flats, a total of 77 homes.

The housing is needed to finance investment in the studios
The housing is needed to finance investment in the studios

The company said the housing market had changed and there was no longer sufficient demand for flats to support the original scheme.

However, the application contains no provision at all for affordable housing - even though Maidstone’s current adopted policy is that all developments should provide 40% affordable housing.

Hillreed has submitted a secret financial report purporting to show that the scheme would become unviable if affordable housing were included.

It said that the development had to create sufficient profit to finance a re-investment programme in Maidstone Studios, suggesting otherwise the future of the TV centre would be at risk.

Boxley said the company had used the same argument to justify the first application.

It said: “Seven years have passed and Maidstone Studios is still in business and has reinvented itself as a studio and business park.”

It also questioned whether the owners’ financial situation should bear any weight in a planning decision.

The parish council objected to the absence of affordable housing, the lack of on-site play provision and also warned that building on the TV studio’s car park would inevitably add to parking and congestion on neighbouring streets. The council said: “The current provision for 450 cars has previously proved inadequate for the studios resulting in obstructive on-street car parking in Grove Green.”

The application would result in the loss of 217 spaces.

*Planning application 14/500290 refers.

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