Published: 13:43, 16 April 2019
| Updated: 14:25, 16 April 2019
Plans which could see a discount store and 24-hour gym move into a former Toys R Us unit are set to get the green light next week.
A planning application for a 2,002 square metre Home Bargains and 1,700 sq m UFC Gym at the Horsted Retail Park, in Maidstone Road, Chatham, is to be discussed by Medway Council’s planning committee next Wednesday.
The scheme to subdivide the unit is recommended for approval by planning officers, subject to conditions including a series of highway improvements in the area.
It is hoped the project will create 88 full-time and part-time jobs, with the “majority” available to local residents.
Applicant Royal London UK Real Estate Fund says it has been unable to find one business to move into the premises, meaning subdividing is the only option to make the site sustainable.
The planning and sequential assessment reads: “This application seeks to enable the reoccupation of the existing floorspace in a well-established retail destination and ensure its long-term occupancy.
“The development will also give rise to a significant number of tangible socio-economic benefits including job creation, inward investment, investor confidence and consumer choice.”
Pentagon Shopping Centre has opposed the application, suggesting the applicant may have overlooked sites in the town centre which could house Home Bargains and UFC Gym.
A further 13 objections have been submitted to the council over concerns about possible impacts the development might have on the local road network.
Planning permission is only required because Home Bargains wishes to sell food, which is against the original conditions put against the site back in 1986.
Medway Council officers conclude: “The proposal will encourage sustainable retail and leisure uses, provide greater choice and competition for the local consumer, deliver 88 employment opportunities, and further enhance the appearance of one of Chatham’s gateway sites.
“The applicant has undertaken a sequential test with respect to both proposed uses and concludes that no suitable sites in the main centres or edges of centres are available for the intended occupiers.”
A separate application for a new Aldi and KFC at Horsted Retail Park was granted planning permission last April.
More by this authorDean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter