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Thumbs up for £100m shopping development

COUNCILLORS are heralding Maidstone's future as Kent’s number one retail destination after a £100million open air shopping development finally got the go-ahead.

Work on the new Fremlin Walk in Maidstone town centre will begin in the Spring after all outstanding issues were thrashed out by the borough council and developers Centros Miller.

The development is expected to open early in 2005 and should create about 500 jobs in Maidstone town centre.

The council and Centros Miller were able to finalise land sale and development agreements after the developers satisfied the last outstanding condition by showing it had secured a sufficient number of pre-let retail units.

It follows a decision by the UK's largest property company, Land Securities, to buy the development off Centros Miller once it is completed.

Council leader Mick Stevens (Lib Dem) said: “Maidstone is on the up. We’ve already seen big improvements as a result of Lockmeadow and the Millennium River Park and now we can look forward to Fremlin Walk. Maidstone's place as the number one retail destination in Kent is assured.”

Fremlin Walk is designed to blend in with Maidstone's existing shopping streets and will incorporate canopied walkways and a new town square opposite Maidstone Museum.

The 350,000 sq ft development on the site of the former Fremlin's brewery will have more than 40 shops and restaurants and 800 car parking spaces.

A large House of Fraser department store plus Boots, HMV, Next, H&M and JJB Sports stores will all be opening in the development.

The development aims to integrate with shopping areas including the Chequers Shopping Centre and Week Street through the Earl Street area to the River Medway.

Ivan Stephenson, development manager for Centros Miller, said: "This is great news for Maidstone. I hope it will be amazingly successful. We look forward to bringing this scheme to fruition."

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