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Costa Coffee drive-thru near M&S in Maidstone approved

Costa Coffee lovers will soon be able to pick up their favourite beverage from a new drive-thru.

Gallagher Properties Limited has won permission to build a drive-thru Costa Coffee at the Eclipse Park estate, near M&S in Maidstone.

How the new drive-thru might look
How the new drive-thru might look

Councillors had previously knocked it back after expressing unhappiness that the business could become the source of litter and be a “bad neighbour” to residents in a care home just 65m away, by creating pollution and noise.

Officers said the applicants had addressed those concerns as far as was reasonably possible in the meantime, agreeing to erect signs asking customers to turn off their engines when idling, and installing EV charging points to encourage greener travel.

Opening hours would also be restricted to 6am till 10pm.

But the applicants had declined a suggestion that they should install ANPR technology that would stamp each coffee cup with the registration number of the purchaser’s vehicle - so that if discarded cups were later found in the street, enforcement officers could trace those responsible.

Officers said they did not consider that such a request could be imposed as a condition because it would not be considered “reasonable” at any appeal hearing.

Cllr Mark Naghi was concerned about pollution and waste
Cllr Mark Naghi was concerned about pollution and waste

Newly elected Cllr Mark Naghi (Lib Dem), who was not a member of the planning committee when the issue was first considered in April, said he was still concerned about air pollution and rubbish. He asked for the provision of extra waste bins on the site.

Cllr Tony Harwood (Lib Dem) agreed that the drive-thru was likely to cause pollution.

He said: “You have only to look at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Maidstone, where on some nights a purple haze of fumes hangs over it.”

But he said that the recently adopted Local Plan Review contained no policies that would justify refusal.

Describing the Local Plan as “an absolute albatross around our necks,” he proposed the scheme be approved.

Several members expressed dismay that Eclipse Park, a former Greenfield site, had originally been promoted as a centre for high-skill, high-wage jobs - but here they were approving a coffee shop.

Cllr Val Springett (Con) said: “It’s amazing what lies we were told.”

Cllr Maureen Cleator (Lab) said: “The jobs created will all be at minimum wage.

“I don’t see the need for it. There are already two other coffee shops nearby (within Next and M&S), especially with a care home so close where there are likely to be people with compromised immune systems.”

Nevertheless, the committee voted for approval, with 10 for, three against, and no abstentions.

Cllr Maureen Cleator: "They will all be minimum wage jobs"
Cllr Maureen Cleator: "They will all be minimum wage jobs"
A Costa Coffee drive-thru will be coming to Plot 6 at Eclipse Park in Maidstone
A Costa Coffee drive-thru will be coming to Plot 6 at Eclipse Park in Maidstone

The Costa Coffee chain closed its branch in King Street, Maidstone, in January of this year.

The drive-thru was only one half of the application, known as Plot 6.

The other half for the adjacent land, known as Plot 7, created a two-storey building containing four light-industrial units with a separate exit onto Sittingbourne Road.

No councillors raised any objections to that part of the proposal.

To see more planning applications and other public notices for your area, visit the public notice portal.

Details of the drive-thru plans can be found on the council’s website under application number 23/503788.

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