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Horsted retail park plans unchanged following closure of Toys R Us

By Amy Nickalls

The developers behind a proposal to build a KFC and Aldi in Chatham have said plans will not change despite Toys R Us going into administration.

An application for Horsted Retail Park was submitted in December and will be discussed at a planning meeting tonight.

News of the troubles facing the toy shop, which is between the two sites earmarked for development, raised questions over what this would mean for the proposal.

Horsted retail park plans released by Royal London
Horsted retail park plans released by Royal London

Administrators closed the Toys R Us store in Tunbridge Wells on March 8 as part of original restructuring plans announced in December but said its site in Chatham will remain open as it continues to seek a buyer.

Developer Royal London has said it cannot speculate on what will happen with the unit, but it knows other tenants will be interested.

Senior asset manager Yasin Sadiq said: “The news regarding Toys R Us does not change the progress of Royal London’s planning application for Horsted Retail Park.

“Nor does it affect the prospect of delivering a comprehensive redevelopment of the site with new retail facilities.

“Royal London is not in a position to speculate on the future of the Toys R Us unit and there is no certainty that Royal London will repossess its lease.

The Toys R Us store in Horsted Retail Park, Chatham
The Toys R Us store in Horsted Retail Park, Chatham

“The final decision regarding the existing lease will rest with the Administrator and this process will take a number of months to conclude.

“If Royal London were able to acquire the lease, what we do know is there is additional tenant demand to occupy the space.”

Planning officers recommended approval of the plans with sixteen conditions attached. This includes a clause preventing any work from starting until plans for highway improvements have been submitted.

Adjustments to the give way line where the retail park meets the A229, visual barriers in the central reservations on the A229 heading to Maidstone and Chatham, widening and providing a left turn lane into the retail park and a pedestrian crossing to Homebase are all part of these plans.

The report reads: “It is likely some trips to the Horsted Retail Park new facilities would be on foot or by public transport and there would be some shared trips, but it is highly likely that the overwhelming majority of customers would arrive by car.

“This would be contrary to development plan objectives and weighs against the scheme.

“However, There would be some highway improvement and better pedestrian connectivity to the Retail Park and the council highway officer has not raised any objection.”

If approved, the stores will create 100 new jobs.

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