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Where is Quinn Estates building in Kent?

By Chris Britcher

How do you become almost a household name in the county without your own TV show or holding high profile elected office?

The answer seems to be to become a developer with an almost insatiable appetite for growth.

And of all those looking to capitalise on the nation's need for housing and expansion, then, in Kent at least, Mark Quinn has become synonymous with what his critics will call "the relentless march of progress".

Mark Quinn
Mark Quinn

His company, Quinn Estates, has been involved in a host of projects over recent years - and has more fingers in pies going forward than a particularly butter-fingered baker.

Yet he divides opinion like perhaps no one else in the county.

For some he is delivering what is required - the homes, offices and town centre improvements we need to serve an ever-increasing population.

For others, he’s someone who is forever changing the landscape of the county - and not for the better.

Communities have risen up in protest against him, but many have also benefited from his involvement.

So just what are some of the projects he has been involved in? Here are just a handful in each district:

Ashford

Connect 38 - Quinn Estates' Ashford office development (8306156)
Connect 38 - Quinn Estates' Ashford office development (8306156)

Sat a rather powerful stone's throw from Ashford International station, the Connect 38 office building - named courtesy of the 38 minute journey time on the high-speed train to London - is more significant than initially meets the eye.

Over recent years a growing number of office buildings in our towns have been becoming residential sites - driving commerce, and the benefits of the workforce shopping locally, to the outskirts.

This, however, was the first to be built in a town centre for more than 20 years in Kent - and forms part of the local council's 'Big 8' projects to revitalise the town (another is the Riverside Park project - another Quinn scheme).

Quinn Estates is hoping to welcome Netflix to a former railway works

Sat on a former car park it delivered 60,000 sq ft of office space and shop space on the ground floor. Work was completed last summer.

In fact, it proved so attractive, neighbouring Folkestone & Hythe District Council recently agreed it was going to buy it for £17m. Given that the land was given to Quinn Estates and its partner on the project, George Wilson Holdings, for just £2, it proved a lucrative project.

Meanwhile, there's excitement growing over plans to turn the former railway works in the town into seven state-of-the-art studios - with Netflix believed to be interested in moving in.

Canterbury

CGI of Canterbury City Football Club's proposed new stadium at Highland Court Farm - but the plans were thrown out by the local authority. Picture: Quinn Estates
CGI of Canterbury City Football Club's proposed new stadium at Highland Court Farm - but the plans were thrown out by the local authority. Picture: Quinn Estates

Perhaps Mark Quinn's most controversial - and certainly most ambitious scheme - is so significant it is playing a major role in the planning of the county's health services.

In order to secure land which would allow his firm to build 2,000 homes in the in-demand city - key to hitting its targets - he has offered to build the shell of a new hospital to replace and/or complement the existing Kent & Canterbury Hospital.

If given the nod, it would it a so-called 'super hospital'.

However, it may not delight those in Ashford or Margate - who would see their hospital downgraded as a result.

Quinn was also behind the Beer Cart Building within the city walls - a mix of apartments and office space, which delivered the first £1m penthouse in the city.

Just last week it won approval to start the final phase of Eddington Park, that will complete the transformation of the former Herne Bay Golf Club. It will see nearly 100 new homes, a pub and office space added to the homes already on the site.

However, the Highland Court Farm development, in the nearby village of Bridge, was rejected by city councillors earlier this year. Opposed by locals, it would have seen 175 holiday homes plus new facilities for the city's rugby and football clubs.

Medway

Public consultation to the plans for Rochester's Bardell Wharf
Public consultation to the plans for Rochester's Bardell Wharf

Amid the huge redevelopment work taking place across Medway, Quinn Estates is interested in the Bardell Wharf scheme. Part of plans to unite brownfield sites to produce a new creative quarter in Rochester, plans include more than 300-warehouse-inspired apartments plus commercial space. A public consultation took place last summer into the proposals as plans progress.

Dover

Quinn Estates' development north of Northbourne, near Deal
Quinn Estates' development north of Northbourne, near Deal

Plans currently being pursued include building 3,750 new homes, together with schools, shops, restaurants and a doctors’ surgery on fields north of Northbourne, near Deal.

In line with other similar projects, local opposition has made its views clear with some suggesting the proposed Howbridge Park would dwarf nearby Sandwich in terms of size.

Quinn was also behind the Hammill Park scheme near Sandwich - the second phase of which is now taking place.

Swale

Artists impressions of how Sittingbourne will look once the Spirit of Sittingbourne regeneration is completed. (7387187)
Artists impressions of how Sittingbourne will look once the Spirit of Sittingbourne regeneration is completed. (7387187)

As part of a consortium which also includes Swale Borough Council, U&I and Essential Land, the Spirit of Sittingbourne project intends to deliver £110m of investment in the town.

Schemes include a multi-screen cinema, due to open next year, a multi-storey car park and a host of restaurants, shops and other facilities.

In January, Quinn Estates’ controversial plans for almost 700 homes, a new primary school, shops and a rugby clubhouse off Wises Lane in Borden, near Sittingbourne, were approved by Swale council.

It came as a bitter blow for opponents who, led by the Borden Residents Against Development group, fought the proposals in a long-running campaign which featured a protest march and a petition signed by hundreds of people.

KMTV spoke to residents about plans for Swale

The development had been added to the council’s Local Plan at the 11th hour after the planning inspector ruled the authority’s house-building target had to be higher.

Meanwhile, the Highsted Park Garden Village continues to polarise opinion as it makes its way through the planning process.

Apparently supported by senior figures in the local authority, it would bring 11,500 new homes plus related infrastructure and improvements to the roads system which has captured the imagination of many.

In Faversham, the firm was behind the Foundry Business Park and the Davington Park housing development.

Maidstone

An artist's impression of what Binbury Garden Village will look like
An artist's impression of what Binbury Garden Village will look like

Still awaiting a decision is a proposal for a garden village on the former Detling Airfield site.

Dubbed Binbury Park, it would see 1,750 houses, shopping centre, school, hotel and 46,000 sq m of commercial space if the plans - opposed by locals, natch - are finally approved.

In 2017, work started on clearing the former Grafty Green garden centre site as Quinn began to see its Boughton Park plans realised.

It created space for 14 self-build plots on the site and 5,000sq ft of office space.

The once popular garden centre closed in 2015.

Folkestone & Hythe

How the former egg packing site in Stelling Minnis will look when fully complete
How the former egg packing site in Stelling Minnis will look when fully complete

An imposing former boarding school was transformed into 23 apartments as Eversley Park, Sandgate emerged, while a similar project in Hythe saw Woodend turned into 14 flats.

While in nearby Stelling Minnis, Quinn obtained planning permission to redevelop the former Stonegate egg packing facility into 30 houses and office space.

Tonbridge & Malling

The former KM Group headquarters in Larkfield being redeveloped into 12 homes called the Old Printworks
The former KM Group headquarters in Larkfield being redeveloped into 12 homes called the Old Printworks

The KM Media Group's former home in Larkfield was something of a local landmark when the printing presses and some 400 staff occupied its former headquarters.

After being sold, work started at the end of 2017 on redeveloping the land into the appropriately named Old Printworks and 12 new homes.

Sevenoaks

Quinn Estates
Quinn Estates

Amid all the projects Quinn Estates is involved in, a few have not met with approval of local authorities.

In the pursuit of new housing, a garden village scheme, next to Knockholt railway station, was put forward for inclusion in Sevenoaks District Council's local plan.

It would have seen around 800 new homes built, plus a sport hub, new primary school, a gin distillery and business space on the site of the former Broke Hill Golf Club.

To the frustration of the developers, it failed to get on the local authority’s local plan at the end of last year, although hopes remain for the land.

Gravesham & Dartford

Mark Quinn
Mark Quinn

While Quinn Estates' reach has increased across the county, Dartford and Gravesham have so far remained relatively unexplored territory.

However, it did take part in talks with the Thames Estuary Commission after a 'call for ideas' for the compilation of its Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission report.

Don't be entirely surprised to see the firm making in-roads into north Kent soon.

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