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New plans revealed for Maidstone East station and former sorting office



Plans to develop a dilapidated part of Maidstone have moved a step closer after a joint council bid to buy the former sorting offfice was announced.

Kent County Council (KCC) and Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) want to acquire the 3.5 acre Sandling Road site in order to "unlock the potential transformation of the area."

The purchase, which is due to be completed in September, will allow the authorities to produce a master plan, which is expected to take three to five years.

The Councils hope their bid, the cost of which will not be made public until after the purchase, will trigger a spate of development in an area of town which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

A KCC spokesman said: "This site is key to unlocking the potential transformation of the area, with a ‘landmark’ mixed-use development including retail space, homes, offices, increased parking and an improved interchange between buses, trains and taxis.

"The purchase of the 3.5 acre site will have two main benefits – it will create a better place and it is also a great business opportunity for both councils at a time of immense financial challenges for public service delivery."

It comes as Network Rail and Southeastern announced they will tear down the derelict Victoria pub and build a public square in its place and revamp Maidstone East station's entrance.

It is hoped the £2m scheme, which will be partly funded by the National Stations Improvement Programme and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, will be complete by 2018.

In addition to the public square a large glass fronted reception area will be built in front of the existing ticket office.

Future temporary uses for the site are being sought.Most of the former sorting office has been empty since Royal Mail moved their sorting office to the Parkwood Industrial Estate, although part of the site is sublet to a charity for use as a depot.

Cllr Fran Wilson, leader of MBC, said: “This is a strategically important regeneration project and by working in partnership to purchase the site we can secure the best outcome for the county town.

“The area has been an eyesore for a number of years. Working together we can create something that residents will be proud of and which will bring the jobs and homes that the town needs.”

Gary Cooke, KCC’s cabinet member for corporate and democratic services and a local Maidstone member, said: “KCC is keen to see and help promote schemes that benefit and promote Kent as a great place to live, to work and to have fun. Maidstone is our county town and should reflect values and life styles that we wish to promote throughout Kent.

"The regeneration of the Maidstone East area provides a unique opportunity to do exactly that and in a way that also provides financial benefit to the county’s ratepayers.


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