Published: 12:43, 10 June 2020
| Updated: 22:01, 10 June 2020
Greenfield land in Maidstone at the centre of a £3 million battle over a controversial industrial development has been bought by new developers.
The 33-acre section of land sits just off Junction 8 of the M20 near Woodcut Farm and was previously earmarked for the Kent International Gateway (KIG) scheme.
Clearbell Property Partners saw potential in the fact it already has outline consent for a 489,000 sq ft business park secured from previous owners Roxhill.
It's understood Clearbell will now seek to bring the development forward after buying the site for £5m.
This is the same section of land set aside for the Kent International Gateway (KIG) development more than 10 years ago.
People across Maidstone united to oppose the KIG plans which cost the local authorities £3m to defeat at a public inquiry in 2010.
It would have involved huge warehouses and a rail-freight interchange across 112 hectares near Bearsted.
Villagers fought the scheme, claiming their homes would have been blighted by lorry movements.
Despite winning the battle, two years later planning bosses then put forward proposals for another industrial development on some of the same land, only this time on a smaller scale.
The application from Roxhill proposed less floor-space, lower roof heights and a greater overall proportion of office space than the first application.
Outline consent was approved at the end of 2017 as part of the adopted Local Plan.
Campaign to Protect Rural England fought hard to express their objections and eventually the plans fell through.
MP Helen Whately threatened ministerial intervention at the time saying she would fight the plans at every level.
Now the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent says those objections still stand.
She added: “People’s concerns have not gone away since development at Junction 8 was last considered. I’ll continue to give a voice to people’s concerns in any new attempt to get permission for development.”
Despite previous failed attempts, Nick Berry, a Partner at Clearbell Capital say he sees 'potential' in the location for new business space.
He said: “We have believed in the investment potential of this sector for some time, and feel that it is even more relevant given the current climate.
"The coronavirus crisis has exposed supply chains across a number of sectors, with many businesses looking to make their supply chains more resilient in future with additional space. Coupled with our greater reliance on online shopping throughout lockdown, the demand for industrial and logistics space has never been greater.
“In an already constrained market, we expect demand for prime small and medium sized assets to grow in the months and years to come. Development sites like Maidstone will provide local business communities with much-needed space to grow their businesses.”
No new plans have yet been submitted.