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Coop store to replace Steve Sargent Cars in Loose Road in Maidstone

Work to replace a former car showroom with a new convenience store is under way.

Steve Sargent Cars, in Loose Road, Maidstone, shut down in 2017 and planning permission for a gym had been approved.

However, the project never started and an application was later submitted for a Coop convenience store in January.

The Coop store will replace Steve Sargent Cars in Loose Road, Maidstone
The Coop store will replace Steve Sargent Cars in Loose Road, Maidstone

The proposals were given the green light on March 27 and fencing has now been put in place as work begins.

Planners Peacock and Smith suggest the new store would provide choice and competition for customers in the area who could also carry out their shopping at Tesco across the road.

The planning application outlines 12 parking spaces. Ten would be standard size parking spaces while two would offer more spaces for disabled customers.

Steve Sargent Cars will be replaced by a Coop store (8207815)
Steve Sargent Cars will be replaced by a Coop store (8207815)

Opening times would be between 7am and 11pm while it is made clear the shop is for more of a "topping up" process as opposed to the bulk buying options of Tesco in Tovil and Morrisons in Sutton Road.

Despite the promise of more choice, some people have voiced their displeasure at the plans to have a new Coop store in Loose Road over fears of congestion.

Maidstone Borough Councillor Clive English wrote to the planning department and said: " Loose Road is a fast moving (usually) traffic corridor, which can be very dangerous to cross, but can at times become extremely congested.

The new Coop store will be opposite Tesco Express in Loose Road (8207808)
The new Coop store will be opposite Tesco Express in Loose Road (8207808)

"Any access or egress on the Loose Road at this point could be quite problematic. However I am no happier about an access or egress on Barton Road. This is a relatively constrained traffic-calmed road, with residents parking and consequently poor sight lines, it is not going to be satisfactory for large vehicles making deliveries or for significant numbers of cars.

"There will also be additional issues caused at certain times by vehicles exiting the service road or trying to enter the service road behind the bank in Loose Road and from overflow parking at the Grammar School, which can be an issue in term time.

"I see no sign that these issues have been considered, and am concerned at the fairly constrained manoeuvrings room on the site itself, which may lead to attempts to stack delivery vehicles or customers cars in the roads around the site, which will not only cause traffic problems but impact on the already poor air quality in the area.

The owner of News, Food and Wine is worried the Coop store will ruin his trading (8207811)
The owner of News, Food and Wine is worried the Coop store will ruin his trading (8207811)

"I would also point out that unlike the Tesco’s store this proposal is quite near to residential property and consideration needs to be given to the impact on residential amenity through noise, disturbance, unpleasant odours, and impact on air quality."

Muthukumaru Pushpakumar, owner of News, Food and Wine, blasted the decision to have a new convenience store bringing the total in the immediate area to three.

He said: "As a local business which is situated on an already busy road and area I have several concerns about this change of use.

"The increase in traffic would make this an even more dangerous road to cross for schoolchildren and residents. The excessive pollution, and noise is already high at peak times, adding to this with further customers would only make this more severe.

"Tesco's customers already illegally park on the main and busy road. Adding another convenience shop opposite with lots of further customers coming in and out continuously would make this junction even more dangerous.

"I am concerned with people parking on my own forecourt which will have a negative effect on my own business.

"As a local independent business owner which has been trading for years, Tesco's has already had a detrimental effect on my business, I fear another convenience store would severely affect my trade as that would mean three convenience stores within 100 yards of each other."

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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