Published: 12:01, 05 March 2015
Councillors labelled the application “flawed” and “ridiculous” but plans to redevelop Strood Retail Park were approved nonetheless.
B&Q is set to be replaced with three shops, a cafe and a 24-hour gym on the upper floor.
As part of the project the existing slip road on Commercial Road will be removed and pedestrian access improved.
It means there will be room for 17 extra car parking spaces, but councillors fear the impact it will have on Knight Road traffic .
At a planning meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Peter Hicks (Con) said: “This will become the only junction into the retail park.
“It is already busy and will be subject to further traffic with the development of the old civic centre.”
Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab) agreed, adding: “I cannot stand traffic lights but this junction is crying out for them to allow cars to get out of the retail park.”
Head of planning Dave Harris said lights would not be “appropriate” given the three
private access roads opposite, which would be uncontrolled and create safety concerns.
Cllr John Avey (Con) called the lack of traffic provision “ridiculous” and suggested a mini roundabout instead but Cllr Glyn Griffiths (lab) said it was clear “we’re not going to get the road measures we want from the developers, so it may be up to the council to fork out the money to make these changes.
Twelve public objections were made, over the traffic and the view six cafes in the town was enough, but the application was approved by a vote of 10 to five.
The gym will be low-cost and aimed at shift workers, with glazing on one side overlooking Commercial Road.
In his report, Mr Harris described the retail park as having a “back of house feel” and being “an out-of-date, utilarian unit”.
The idea is to make the area attractive and inviting to people from the town centre.
As well as the 336 parking spaces there will be 50 cycle spaces.
Work must begin within three years on the condition the landlord, Ropemaker Properties, contribute £15,000 towards a pedestrian crossing and £2,000 for menial traffic management.