Published: 14:31, 26 February 2020
| Updated: 14:34, 26 February 2020
A councillor has urged his colleagues not to let commercial interests sway plans for a Maidstone landmark.
Members have begun to consider the future of the 14th century Archbishop’s Palace, used for weddings, inquests and citizenship ceremonies, after its lease runs out in October.
Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) leader Cllr Martin Cox (Lib Dem), said: “Just 10 days ago we were given the initial briefing after a company came and looked at it and not just with broad brush strokes, it was very much in detail and a lot of things have come to light.
“We have to look outside for the expertise because we are dealing with something that is the jewel in our crown.
“We’ve looked into a lot of the uses and we’ve brought it down to just five as a group of councillors.”
These include turning the building, in Mill Street, into a hotel, offices, a wedding and corporate venue, a restaurant, or a conference venue.
He added: “I do feel it should stay roughly as what it is now and that is a wedding venue. I think it’s certainly one of the two or three options out of the five that are in the lead at the moment.
“I think there comes a point where you say commercial could become the downfall. It’s a very fine balance we have to consider.
“Things will be brought to the policy and resources committee in late March and I think then, once we’ve listened to other people, we’ll consider the best way to take it forward. This is just another chapter in its life.”
Cllr Eddie Powell (Ind) said: “This is extremely early days, there are lots of rumours flying around. A question I would ask is, does Maidstone really need a new hotel? I would hope that anything of this nature wasn’t pushed just because of money. Money shouldn’t play a part where heritage is involved.”
“It’s not just the palace, we’ve got the church alongside it, we’ve got the river at the back of it, it’s major. This type of infrastructure needs developing and promoting and it’s up to the people of Maidstone to make that happen.”
More by this authorLiane Castle