Published: 17:56, 19 May 2021
| Updated: 18:04, 19 May 2021
Soon, you may be able to live in the former Kent Messenger offices in Middle Row, Maidstone.
The building is being redeveloped to provide serviced multiple occupancy units on the first and second floor, while retaining office accommodation on the ground floor.
Designs submitted to Maidstone council now show five bedrooms each with its own ensuite facilities on the first floor, with a shared kitchen/diner area.
The second floor will contain four bedrooms, three with ensuite and one with a detached bathroom, all sharing a kitchen area.
The main building, which is number 6 and 7 Middle Row, dates from 1901 and is brick-built in a Queen Anne style.
But the living accommodation will also extend over neighbouring No 5 Middle Row, above the Top Barber salon, which is a a stucco-covered Grade ll listed building dating from the 18th century.
Both lie within the Maidstone Town Centre Conservation Area.
The principle of conversion to living accommodation was agreed by Maidstone council in April this year, after the applicant, Living Works Holdings, applied for permitted development rights to create two two-bedroom flats, one on each floor of the main building.
The plans have since been changed somewhat.
In legislation passed by the Government in 2015 in a bid to boost housing construction, the conversion of offices to housing is allowed automatically, and the only grounds that local authorities can refuse permission is on traffic, flooding, or harm to potential tenants from noise or a lack of sunlight.
The council concluded that none of those applied.
However, because No 5 is listed, the company has had to submit a separate listed building application which shows a different arrangement for the living accommodation.
Now there are nine bedrooms instead of four.
Andrew Street, who is acting as agent for the developers, explained the idea was to offer serviced accommodation to professional people whose work perhaps brought them to Maidstone for a temporary period.
The accommodation is being advertised at £650 a month inclusive of bills.
The ground floor will be divided into two office rooms, with a kitchen and toilets in the building's basement.
The Kent Messenger moved into the building in 1985. It had previously been a dress shop called Peggy Tyley's.
The newspaper quit the site last year when its lease expired and is now based in the Wonderhub, a few doors down the High Street.