Published: 10:33, 12 May 2021
| Updated: 07:48, 13 May 2021
Part of a notorious housing estate could be demolished to make way for a multi-million pound makeover.
Housing Association Golding Homes has announced an investment package that would see 114 apartments knocked down in place of 240 new homes, a modern shopping area and attractive communal areas.
Artist's impression of the planned revamp of Northumberland Road shops
The revamp hopes to tackle antisocial behaviour while upgrading facilities in Northumberland Road and Cambridge Crescent, some of which date back to the 1950s.
The Vine and St Martin’s Church will not be affected.
As part of the proposals, the landlord is inviting residents, leaseholders and shopkeepers directly impacted by the plans, to share their opinions and ideas before any decisions are made.
Keith Mandy, regeneration and strategic project manager at Golding Homes said: “Our overall aim with the consultation is to fully understand the needs of local people, so that we can create a community they are proud of.
“We understand, through our continued work in Shepway and partnership with the Maidstone Task Force, that the area has its challenges and there is a real need for improvement.
“This includes replacing older housing and improving the layout of homes on Cambridge Crescent.
“We have an opportunity to change the look and feel of the area, so it is very important for us to engage with our customers, so that we can work together to build a vibrant and safe community for everyone.”
The area of Cambridge Crescent was once home to its own manor house known as Shepway Court, and was originally part of an orchard.
There was also a group of Hopper Houses on the site thought to have been used as oast houses.
Construction of the suburb started in the 1930s with South Park Road, but the majority of homes were built after the Second World War as part of a government drive to offset housing shortages.
Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) bought the Mote Estate, Mote Park, and the farms of Shepway so had the land available and ready for the major house building programme.
Throughout the 50s and 60s, construction stepped up a gear and the estate began to take the recognisable shape seen today with each road named after an English county.
The church buildings and the shops were also introduced in the 60s and Alan Barnsley, an author better known as Gabriel Fielding, set up a doctors surgery in Cambridge Crescent which became a thriving hub and a model of good practice.
At the time, Maidstone was still a small market town and Shepway was designed for people moving out of substandard housing in town.
There were not many new-build houses and the estate was so modern, it would have been seen as a privilege to have been allocated a home there.
It’s only in recent history this began to change when mass development meant the ethos of the once popular area changed overtime.
As more homes were built, Shepway’s appeal declined.
It continued to be owned by MBC until 2004 when Maidstone Housing Trust, the previous name for Golding Homes, took stock transfer.
Now the landlord hopes upgrading the area which has become tired and run down will help rejuvenate the streets making it a place residents will be proud to call home.
It comes after Golding Homes previously completed the £50m regeneration of Wallis Fields in Park Wood.
Works started in 2015 and completed three years ago.
The Cambridge Crescent consultation will run until June 6 when Golding will use the feedback to develop proposals for the area with partners and architects.
Tom Casey, Director of Development and Sales at Golding Homes, said: “At Golding we are committed to providing quality housing for our customers and investing in local communities which they can be proud to call home.
“We are committed to involving local Shepway residents and businesses as much as possible to achieve a joint vision for the area. We are excited about the future of Shepway and want to share this journey with our customers.”
The landlord will also be working with Public Art Consultants Francis Knight and Kent artist, Jonathan Wright, to create a unique identity and character for the Shepway redevelopment.
Mr Wright will invite local people to share stories and connections to the area to influence the final artwork which will be incorporated into plans for the area. Details on how to get involved in this will be shared at a later stage.
If the plans go ahead, following consultation and planning approval, work will start next Spring with phase one of three completed in Summer 2024.
The entire revamp is not expected to be finished until 2028.
MP Helen Whately for Faversham and Mid Kent says the plan to invest in Shepway is 'good news for the local community'.
She added: “This is another step in helping to regenerate the area and level up communities across Kent. I look forward to working with Golding Homes to make sure their plans make life better for local people.
“While improvements are needed, change can be unsettling. Residents of Cambridge Crescent will rightly have questions about these plans – particularly where they will live during the construction phase and what compensation is on offer. Disruption to people’s lives needs to be kept to a minimum.
“It’s crucial that Golding Homes works closely with local people on these plans. I’m pleased that this consultation is taking place at an early stage, and I strongly encourage Shepway residents to have their say. This is a chance for people to help shape the future of their community.”
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