Published: 09:26, 24 July 2020
| Updated: 10:26, 24 July 2020
Plans for the £30m transformation of a grade II listed landmark in Maidstone town centre have been unanimously approved.
The proposals for the restoration of Len House on Mill Street for a mix of commercial space and 159 new homes were given the green light by Maidstone Borough Council's planning committee last night.
Councillors heard objections from local residents, who fear being overlooked by the development, and operators of nearby bars and venues, who are concerned about noise complaints from future residents of the scheme.
In response to impact on would-be residents, the committee's chairman Cllr Clive English reassured members the council would recognise the existence of late-night establishments as being in place before the homes are built.
He said: "It's a very strongly held view myself that to preserve the vitality of the town we will not be going down the route of many London boroughs that have closed down long-established and vital parts of their business community just because one resident has moved in and suddenly decides they don't like it."
The committee voted 12 in favour and none against the application for planning permission and building consent for the project.
The grand 1930s building, which sits on the banks of the River Len, was once the Rootes motor garage and more recently town centre home of the Robins and Day Peugeot dealership.
Watch: A sketch from Hollaway architects elaborates on the project
Designs for the proposed redevelopment of the site show a two-storey roof extension - taking it to five floors in total - which will feature glass panels and a 'green' roof.
The ground floor is to be given over to commercial use and will have space for a restaurant, while the original style Crittall windows and high interior of the existing building will be retained.
Matthew Brett-Chaponnel, owner of developers Classicus Estates Ltd, said: "As we set out our plans for Len House, we first and foremost wanted to respect the heritage and setting of the site and immediate surrounding areas.
"Len House is an iconic modernist piece of architecture and our plans to redevelop will ensure its long-term sustainable future."
Nearby venues, The Brenchley and Bierkeller, fear the future residents of the planned new homes will complain about noise from drinkers, which could potentially lead to business restrictions.
Len House was among five buildings in Maidstone identified as an 'opportunity site' by the council in September last year.
The full planning application for the site was then submitted by the developers on March 2.