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Former West Malling Airfield control tower in Alexander Grove, Kings Hill, to become a Costa Coffee

By Ed McConnell

Controversial plans to transform part of an iconic Second World War tower into a coffee shop have been given the go ahead.

Permission to make alterations to the Grade II listed air traffic control building, situated in Alexander Grove, Kings Hill, was received at the end of last week.

Work to repair the art deco-style style landmark — the only remaining building on the West Malling Airfield site — started in June 2012, with a planned single-storey extension housing a branch of Costa Coffee.

Work starts on the restoration of the control tower two years ago

The tower was built in the inter-war period to protect the safety of pilots based at West Malling Airfield, however fell into disrepair following housing developments in the area.

When it was initially proposed, Andrew Blevins, managing director of Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust UK, said: “We want people to enjoy and use the building, but have been careful to retain its spirit.

“It was a living, busy, focal point of the former airfield and we wanted to retain that character and not put it in aspic by turning it into a museum.”

The control tower located on the old site of West Malling Airfield

The new branch will be the parish’ second with one shop located in Liberty Square.

King Hill residents have both welcomed and condemned the decision with some claiming a second branch is unnecessary and the use of the tower is inappropriate.

A spokesman for Architecture Design Limited said that the design will be in keeping with the building and will complement the area.

A start date for work on the shop’s interior is yet to be finalised but the company say they plan to be on site within the next few weeks with an opening date set for next month.

The old control tower is the only building remaining from teh former airfield
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