Published: 11:35, 06 July 2020
| Updated: 13:37, 06 July 2020
An industrial developer has outlined plans to invest £180million into the former Aylesford Newsprint site, in a move which it is hoped will create more than 3,000 jobs.
The print operations ended in 2015, with the loss of more than 230 jobs.
It brought down the curtain on a 90-year history of paper-making at the site which, at its peak, employed 1,000 people.
But now Panattoni, Europe's largest privately-owned industrial developer, confirmed speculation which surfaced at the end of last year by announcing it is consulting on plans to redevelop the 90-acre brownfield site for industrial, logistics, distribution and manufacturing uses.
Tony Watkins, development director at Panattoni, said: “Our redevelopment plans promise to give a new lease of life to this redundant brownfield site.
"It will deliver more than £140m per annum of economic value to the borough of Tonbridge and Malling, and Kent as a whole, by attracting some of the world’s leading companies to the site as well as providing buildings to support the growth of local companies constrained by the lack of facilities
“We believe our proposals are consistent with the council’s economic ambitions and come at the right time as the country considers how to restart, renew and rise to the challenges resulting from Covid-19.
“We want to hear what local residents think about our proposals, so wherever possible we can reflect this feedback in the final planning application.”
The proposal is to design and build seven industrial buildings offering in the region of 177,000 sq metres of new commercial floorspace.
If approved by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, the plans would enhance the Bellingham Way link road for full public use, with no HGVs allowed to access to or from Station Road.
Panattoni says it will submit a planning application to the council later in the summer. If approved, it anticipates construction will begin in 2021, with first occupation expected spring 2022 and completion of the development by 2024.
The company finalised the purchase of the site earlier this year and has been working on its plans with leading commercial property architects, landscape ecologists and planning consultants.
Aylesford Newsprint closed just weeks after workers were offered pay rises and, in 2013, the company had recorded a turnover of £139m.
But administrators called in to handle the closure said the business had been making a loss for several years and could not continue. The rise of digital media and a flooded marketplace were blamed for the closure.