Published: 11:51, 15 October 2019
| Updated: 13:01, 15 October 2019
Think before you build.
That's the message being sent to Maidstone council by residents opposed to the borough's plans to redevelop The Broadway Shopping Centre with 281 flats, including a 15-storey tower block.
The protesters will be manning a stall in Maidstone's Week Street between 10am and 4pm this Saturday outside the Marks and Spencer store to persuade shoppers to sign a paper petition opposing the plans.
The signatures will be added to those already gathered in an online petition which has reached more than 2,600 names.
Residents have organised the campaign through social media and will also return to Week Street on Wednesday next week to give office workers the chance to sign.
Spokesman Jill Ducker said: "We have had enough of the endless building in the town and feel it's time to make a stand."
The Broadway site is one of five "town centre opportunity sites" suggested by Maidstone council as suitable for major redevelopment.
The proposals are in a "draft" stage at present and are due to be further considered by members of the council's strategic planning and infrastructure committee at a meeting at Maidstone Town Hall at 6.30pm on November 5.
The protesters have sought permission to address that meeting and will also be picketing outside the Town Hall from 6pm.
Mrs Ducker said: "We want to get as many people as we can to attend the meeting."
The council's proposal for The Broadway would involve the loss of Lidl, Matalan, truGym and a number of other businesses.
The suggested 15-storey tower block close to the River Medway would dominate the local skyline - the nearby Travelodge hotel, for example, is six storeys high.
The council also suggests another 200 homes could be constructed across the road near Maidstone West Station, using the B&Q store and Barker Road car park.
But the ideas have infuriated many residents.
Penny Lane, from Ringlestone, described the proposal as "disgusting" and said people needed to get more involved in local politics to protect Maidstone from being "subjected to London overspill."
Mark Kehily, from East Farleigh, said: "We’ve had enough. They’ve ruined Maidstone already. It's time to make a stand."
Saskia Moaby, from Tovil, asked: "Isn't Maidstone crowded enough?"
Ken Turner, from Oakwood Park, said: "It's about time we all stood together to prevent the continued destruction of a once proud county town."
Alvin Melville from Fant said: "I came to Maidstone in 1976 and I thought what a nice place to live. But now the council is turning it into a place that has no spirit."
Anyone wishing to sign the protesters' online petition can do so here.
Other sites under consideration by the council for redevelopment include the Mote Road car park, Granada House in Lower Stone Street and Len House in Mill Street.
More by this authorAlan Smith