A housing development that had promised to provide a community facility for the public is now unlikely to do so.
When Redrow Homes secured planning permission for 295 homes on the site of the former Springfield Mill in Maidstone, the company signed a legal agreement promising to convert the mill’s Grade II listed former rag room into a community space.
The rag room was regarded as important because it is the only original building left from the mill built by WR Balston in 1805.
But now Redrow has applied to be released from the June 2018 agreement, in return for making a financial contribution of £55,000 to support the new St Faith’s Community Centre nearby.
The original agreement was that the rag room would be let to a community group for a rent of £1 per annum.
The Ringlestone Community Centre Development Group (RCCG) had lobbied for the obligation, arguing that there were too few public facilities in the area.
However, since then, the RCCG has successfully promoted a new purpose-built combined community centre and church, which opened just last month. However, their project came in over-budget and they have now agreed that rather than have use of the rag room, they would prefer a contribution towards their build costs.
The change in the planning agreement has to be officially agreed by Maidstone Borough Council’s planning committee. But the Redrow contribution has already been taken into account by members of the council’s cabinet when they calculated their own level of support for the new community centre at their meeting on July 26. They are chipping in with £250,000.
The application to modify the agreement can be seen here.
Application number 23/503449 refers. The original application number was 17/502432.
It is not clear what will happen to the rag room now, but its existing official planning permission use is as office space.