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The council has already received an application from Land Securities for a comprehensive redevelopment of the Newnham Court site to provide a “shopping village” with a Waitrose, Debenhams, a re-located Notcutts Garden Centre and other retail units at the site just off Junction 7 of the M20 at Boxley.
The developers claim the £85m project will create 1,000 jobs.
On the adjacent site, the council has given outline approval for a 50-acre medical campus in support of the Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery (KIMS), complete with medical school, university campus and halls of residence, doctors’ and nurses’ accommodation and a neuro-rehabilitation village.
Both proposals would be exceptions to current planning policies, but cabinet members this week approved a new wodge of Local Plan policies to go out for public consultation which would allocate the land for the new uses.
However, chief planning officer Rob Jarman said the council was also reaffirming the town centre as the main focus for retail development. New policies would specifically seek retail development around Maidstone East station and the former Royal Mail Sorting Office in Sandling Lane.
Chris Ward of Land Securities said his company had taken on board concerns about potential traffic issues around Newnham Court.
He said: “We have listened carefully to public feedback, in particular to issues raised about the impact on local roads, traffic congestion, improving public transport links with the town centre and the possible impact on shops within the town.
“We have listened and we have responded. We will spend more than £6 million on improvements to roads, roundabouts and junctions and this will upgrade the local road network, even when the new development is taken into account.”
Mr Ward said the company would provide a £1m fund for improvements to Park and Ride bus links between the town centre and Newnham Court and on town centre enhancements, such as pedestrianised areas or loans or grants awarded to new town centre start-up businesses.
He further said Land Securities would undertake not to locate any existing town centre retailers at Newnham Court, unless they kept their existing town centre stores open.
*The cabinet agreed that plans to add Yalding and Coxheath to a list of villages to be promoted as Rural Service Centres and also to designate Boughton Monchelsea, Hollingbourne Eyhorne Street and Sutton Valence as “larger villages” that should be a focus for new development were deferred until January after parish councils and local ward councillors complained they had not been consulted.
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