Los­ing our her­itage is noth­ing new

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s another sad day for our built her­itage.

We are about to say farewell to Spring­field Mill, part of Maid­stone’s in­dus­trial land­scape for more than 200 years.

Maid­stone’s plan­ners have at­tempted to salvage some­thing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions by in­sist­ing that some of the listed parts of the build­ings be pre­served - the chim­ney and the former rag room, which is to be con­verted to com­mu­nity use.

The de­vel­op­ers of the site, Redrow, seem com­mit­ted to be­ing as loyal to the site’s his­tory as pos­si­ble, but ex­pe­ri­ences at other his­toric build­ings in the county are not promis­ing.

Over in Had­low, the owner of the 1830s folly tower bought the prop­erty af­ter a largely pub­lic­fi­nanced £4m restora­tion, with the prom­ise it would be opened to the pub­lic 28 days a year.

He is now sell­ing the tower on hav­ing never al­lowed pu­bic ac­cess.

Sadly we al­ready have the ex­am­ple of Hayle Mill in Tovil.

When PJ Livesey con­verted the listed paper mill to hous­ing in 2008, the com­pany signed a Sec­tion 106 agree­ment with Maid­stone coun­cil and English Her­itage (as His­toric Eng­land was then known) that it would cre­ate a her­itage area within the build­ing for use as a mu­seum on the mill’s his­tory which would be open to the pub­lic for a min­i­mum of 20 days.

The va­cant build­ing is there, but it was never prop­erly fit­ted out and in the sub­se­quent 10 years it has never once been opened to the pub­lic.

De­spite protests from lo­cals, nei­ther Maid­stone Bor­ough Coun­cil nor His­toric Eng­land has shown any in­ter­est in en­forc­ing the con­di­tion of the agree­ment.

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