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Business forced to close due to damage cost after fire in Week Street, Maidstone

More than five months on from a devastating fire which wiped out part of Maidstone, one business has announced it will not return to the town.

Cornish Bakehouse in Week Street was one of five shops left gutted after an arson attack at The Works in June.

This week the company confirmed the damage was so severe and the amount of work needed too extensive for it to be able to reopen.

The fire ripped through the building in Week Street. Picture via Russ Talliss
The fire ripped through the building in Week Street. Picture via Russ Talliss

Spokesman Aidan Byles said: “We will not be reopening. It’s going to take far too long to refurbish and get up and running.

“It was totally gutted and work has not yet started.”

The 89 sq m unit is now available for lease through Cradick Retail and a spokesman confirmed there has been significant interest in the property but could not say how long work would take.

Cornish Bakehouse is the last premises still boarded up in the row, with neighbouring Lloyds Bank closed for a short time due to smoke damage.

Demolition of The Works, where the fire was started, is drawing to a close, with the company yet to confirm if it will return to the shop.

Emergency planning manager for Maidstone Borough Council, David Harrison, said regular meetings have taken place between the council, owners and insurers to resolve complex legal issues of party walls across four of the properties.

Work has started at Hotter shoeshop, with plans for rebuilding Thompson travel agents recently submitted to the council.

Boots Opticians has yet to confirm whether they will return, with a sign on the hoardings directing shoppers to their King Street branch with no sign of construction as yet.

Adam Stajer was arrested in the wake of the blaze and is due to stand trial at the end of this month after denying arson with intent to endanger life and an alternative charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The 21-year-old Slovakian, of Lower Stone Street, was refused bail at a previous hearing.

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