Waitrose store once in the frame

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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