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Lidl and Matalan 15-storey tower block plans 'would change character' of Maidstone

Concerns have been raised that a proposed 15-storey tower block in the centre of Maidstone would "change the character" of the town.

The comments were made after dozens of locals in Fant ward met to to discuss Maidstone Borough Council’s vision to convert the Broadway shopping centre into a high-rise apartment building.

The Broadway Shopping Centre
The Broadway Shopping Centre

Under the plans the retail area would be demolished and replaced with 281 flats.

The council also announced its intention to redevelop four other key sites in the town, including the riverside, Len House, Mote Road car park and Gala Bingo.

Cllr Margaret Rose (Lab) said: “Maidstone’s planning department has worked very hard to comply with government requirements on developments, however residents at our meeting experienced concern in regards to proposals of high-rise buildings and the possibility of a change of character to the town.”

Council documents suggest the 15-storey tower, along with development at nearby Maidstone West railway station will create a ‘western gateway’ to the town. It emerged yesterday the plans could see the war memorial relocated from Broadway.

This compares with northern and eastern gateways at the 17-storey Springfield Park development and the proposal for 400 homes next to Maidstone East station respectively.

The council maintains plans at the Broadway and Maidstone East are both in their infancy and will need to be taken on by a developer.

It’s hoped any development at Maidstone West and Broadway will come with improvements to the gyratory system and surrounding roads.

The meeting came at the end of a week when Peugeot left its garage on Mill Street. Grade-II listed Len House, once the old Rootes building, is expected to be used for a mixture of housing, restaurants and businesses that “appreciate its unique heritage.”

Up to 67 homes could be built at the now empty site.

The idea has has previously been branded an "eyesore" in the making by Cllr Jonathan Purle, of Bridge ward.

The 15-storey tower block could replace Broadway shopping centre in Maidstone
The 15-storey tower block could replace Broadway shopping centre in Maidstone
Fant residents meet to discuss housing developments in Maidstone
Fant residents meet to discuss housing developments in Maidstone

He said: "This is going to create another eyesore completely out of character with the area.

“The riverside in Maidstone could be so much more. We need a positive & balanced regeneration of the area so that it works for existing residents.

"But building more flats for commuters to move-in from London, or smaller flats for London boroughs’ housing overspill, misses the mark and indeed does nothing to deliver three-bed semis for local families to buy or to rent affordably.

“The council has never been forgiven for inflicting the Travelodge on the us and will certainly not be forgiven if they now get this wrong. These plans need a re-think.”

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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