Waitrose store once in the frame
The 1.8 hectare Marks and Spencer site is currently owned by Gallagher Properties Ltd.
Part of the site was previously used as a Park and Ride site operated by Maidstone council, but that use ceased in October 2015, when the council’s lease was not renewed.
In May 2017, the council granted permission for a Waitrose food store on the site, but by September, challenging market conditions had persuaded Waitrose to crack down on new store openings, and it withdrew from the scheme.
The area is designated in the council’s Local Plan for B1 uses, that is offices, research and development, or light industry.
But Gallagher Properties argued there was no demand for more offices on this site. It had already obtained planning permission for three as yet unbuilt office blocks on land just to the south, but had been unable to find any firms interested in taking up the premises since the permission was granted in September 2017.
This seems in conflict with the fact that the council only this month granted per- mission for new offices to be built at the Maidstone Medical Campus, just a few hundred yards away at Newnham Court on the other side of the A249.
Other tenants on Eclipse Park include the Hilton Hotel, the five-storey Towergate office block and Next. Permission has also been granted for a second hotel, which the firm said is going ahead.
Permission has also already been granted for a 50-home housing development a short way to the west.
Access will be via the existing roundabout within Eclipse Park.