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Maidstone Borough Council reconsiders selling land to Maidstone United

Maidstone Borough Council is reviewing its decision not to sell a two-metre wide strip of scrubland to the town’s football club, after fears it might jeopardise their hopes of promotion.

Maidstone United want to develop the west side of their ground, and had hoped to buy the land, which sits between the Gallagher Stadium and a path leading to Whatman Park.

It forms part of a project to increase the capacity up to the 5,000 required to be accepted into the Football League, were the club to secure promotion from the Vanarama National League this season. The club is currently fifth.

Maidstone United plans to expand the stadium
Maidstone United plans to expand the stadium

But at a meeting last month, the council decided it would only lease the plot for 99 years for a peppercorn rent.

Club co-owner Terry Casey described the move as “deeply disappointing”, saying it would leave the Stones at the mercy of the council.

He said acquiring the leasehold would mean the club would have to produce more drawings and calculations and could jeopardise their application to compete in the play offs and be eligible to join the Football League.

Now the council is set to review its position, after cllrs Matt Boughton, Matthew Burton and David Naghi asked for the decision to be called in.

They said committee members were told the club would reluctantly accept the land on a leasehold basis, when in fact they had previously stated they were only interested in buying the freehold.

The trio stated: “We are concerned that councillors on the committee were not presented with a fully accurate statement on the position of Maidstone United Football Club when voting.”

Democratic and administration services manager at the council, Sam Bailey, explained that the land was deemed ‘strategic’ because of its location near the river, town centre and pedestrian routes to Whatman Park, meaning the authority’s policy would be to lease the land rather than sell it.

However, the land is being valued in case the councillors go against the officer’s advice.

The final decision is set to be made by the Policy and Resources Committee on Wednesday.

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