REFERENCE NO - 16/507358/FULL
Change of use of Royal Mail Depot and ancillary offices to a mix of uses comprising of use of former Royal Mail administration block as B1a (offices), use of main warehouse for car parking, use of warehouse 2 for a mixed use of B8 and A1 retail warehouse, use of undercroft parking as a carpark, use of undercroft parking as a carpark, all with associated operational works for a temporary period of 5 years.
ADDRESS Former Royal Mail Depot, 98 Sandling Road, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1AA
RECOMMENDATION Grant planning permission subject to conditions
SUMMARY OF REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION
Proposal is for temporary use which is not considered to conflict with the long term development of the site
REASON FOR REFERRAL TO COMMITTEE
· Application is made by the Council itself.
PARISH/TOWN COUNCIL North
APPLICANT John Foster, Economic Development, MBC
AGENT Evans and Langford LLP
DECISION DUE DATE
PUBLICITY EXPIRY DATE
OFFICER SITE VISIT DATE
RELEVANT PLANNING HISTORY (including appeals and relevant history on adjoining sites):
The application site has been the subject of a range of planning applications, with those dating from 1981 being particularly relevant:
80/1964E dated 26 January 1981 for a system built parcels sorting office, access road, car parking and ancillary works;
81/1643E dated 4 March 1982 for an industrial/warehouse development with associated motor transport workshop and welfare facilities, and office development;
94/1730 dated 22 February 1995 for the removal of a temporary office building and internal and external alterations to provide a customer service centre including new entrance doors, disabled access ramp, parking and street furniture;
96/1102 dated 10 March 1997 for the erection of a new extension to re-house local sorting office;
14/500483/OUT submitted 9 June 2014 for outline application for the redevelopment of land at Maidstone East and Sorting Office to provide a new railway station and large foodstore, petrol filling station, associated commuter and retail parking. Currently being held in abeyance.
1.0 SITE DESCRIPTION
1.1 The site is situated on Sandling Road at the northern end of the town centre of Maidstone and occupies an area of some 1.34 Ha. Vehicular access is gained from Sandling Road.
1.2 The largely rectangular shaped site is occupied by a three storey masonry office building, two steel framed warehouses which have previously been used as a mail sorting facility, hardstanding yards, and parking areas.
1.3 The site boundaries are generally defined for the most part by security fencing.
1.4 The River Medway is on the opposite side of Fairmeadow (approximately 60m west of the site) and flows south to north. There is a significant drop in level from the Fairmeadow carriageway down to the path that runs adjacent the river.
1.5 To the south of the site is the commuter carpark of approximately 530 spaces for Maidstone East railway station, with the station building beyond. The office building borders Cantium House, which also forms a boundary to the site.
1.6 On the opposite side of Sandling Road is the Kent County Council complex of Invicta House, multi storey carpark (249 spaces) and Sessions House.
1.7 A level survey of the site shows the site to lie between 13.60m within the carpark at the south west corner rising up to approximately 22.10m along Sandling Road.
1.8 The application site has been unoccupied for a number of years, with only occasional use at Christmas periods to provide additional capacity to the relocated site at Parkwood. This occasional use will not continue now that Royal Mail have sold the site.
2.1 This application proposes a temporary change of use of the former Royal Mail Depot and ancillary offices to a mix of uses for a five year period, as outlined below.
2.2 The site has been recently purchased by Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council with a view to developing a long term proposal to redevelop the site. This application for temporary planning permission is the first stage of this process.
2.3 The office building will be used as B1a office space for local charities, as well as community meeting space. Five (5) parking spaces will be provided for use by the occupants of the office space.
2.4 The ancillary office space at the eastern end of warehouse 1 will be used as storage space by the charity occupants of the office building.
2.5 Warehouse 1 and the open surface areas will be used as a ‘pay and display’ parking facility. A total of 140 parking spaces (including 6 disabled spaces) will be provided here on both a short and long term basis. Parking will operate between the hours of 5am to midnight, with the site being secured between these times. The submitted plans show the locations of the parking available on the application site, as well as the proposed locations of parking meters.
2.6 To provide vehicular access to the warehouse, two ramps of approximately 0.45m in height are proposed to overcome the level difference from the external yard. These will be used for access and egress respectively. Improved visibility at the warehouse access and egress points will be provided by replacing the existing roller shutters with ones of increased width. Ventilation will be provided via passive means, by removing the glazing from the low level windows and retaining the high level ridge ventilation. No other structural changes are proposed to the warehouse.
2.7 Warehouse 2 will be used as a mix of B8 and A1 retail warehouse by a local charity, primarily for the sale and distribution of second hand comparison and bulky goods with ancillary office accommodation. Five parking spaces will be provided for use by the occupants of the warehouse.
2.8 The undercroft of warehouse 2 will be retained as car parking and used for permit parking by Kent County Council. It provides 99 car parking spaces.
2.9 Overall the proposal includes 244 car parking spaces in total, 139 of which are existing. There is a reduction of light goods vehicle parking from 16 spaces to none and an increasing is disability spaces from 0 to 6 . The existing 10 motorcycle spaces are to be retained. The proposal has been designed following a transport assessment carried out at the end of 2015 which concluded that a maximum of 250 car parking spaces would not have an adverse effect on the local highway network.
2.10 It is proposed that existing site driveway is maintained as the only means of vehicular access and egress from the site. Signage will be provided on the site frontage to advertise the availability of public parking within the site. Existing external lighting will be maintained and enhanced where necessary to provide a safe environment for users, whilst ensuring that it does not adversely impact on the amenities of adjoining or surrounding occupiers.
2.11 The applicant has sought to justify the proposed five year temporary planning permission with the following points:
· Previous proposals to comprehensively redevelop the site have failed to deliver a viable retail-led scheme;
· The site has a number of challenges including topographical, geotechnical and contamination and constraints including highways and the need to consider sympathetically the nearby Listed Buildings.
· In addition to the Planning process, rail related consents are also required.
· As a public sector led scheme extensive public involvement, engagement and consultation is proposed, as part of a masterplan processes
· The proposal will include the delivery of housing, employment, place-making and sustainability. The provision of a retail occupier will take time.
2.12 A statement from the applicant covering these points is included as Appendix 1.
3.0 POLICY AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
3.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG)
Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000: ED8, T8, T9, T11, T13, T21, T22, T23, T24, R1, ENV49.
Maidstone Borough Council (Submission Version) Draft Local Plan: RMX1 (2); SP1, SP4, DM1, DM3, DM4, DM5, DM7, DM20, DM24, DM27.
3.2 The Council has recently finished its Regulation 19 consultation on the submission version of the draft Local Plan and representations from that consultation are currently being assessed at the Examination in Public (EiP). The emerging plan is a material consideration and carries significant weight.
3.3 The site is covered by the following site specific policies
Adopted MWBP 2000. POLICY ED8 IN CONSIDERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF LAND AT MAIDSTONE EAST RAILWAY STATION SHOWN ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, PRIORITY WILL BE GIVEN TO THE FOLLOWING USES:
(1) TRANSPORT INTERCHANGE AND STATION CONCOURSE WITH ASSOCIATEDSMALL SCALE RETAIL UNITS; AND
(2) OFFICES; AND
IN ADDITION, WHEN THESE NEEDS HAVE BEEN MET, THE FOLLOWING USES WILL ALSOBE ACCEPTABLE: HOTEL, RESTAURANTS OR LEISURE USES.
CAR PARKING PROVISION WILL BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF POLICY T13 AND IN ADDITION BETWEEN 400–600 SPACES WILL BE RETAINED FORTHE RAILWAY STATION.
Submitted Local Plan 2016 Policy RMX1 (2)
Maidstone East and former Royal Mail Sorting Office, Sandling Road,Maidstone
Maidstone East and former Royal Mail Sorting Office, as shown on the policies map, is allocated for development for up to 10,000m2 comparison and convenience retail and approximately 210 dwellings. In addition to the requirements of policy H1, planning permission will be granted if the following criteria are met.
Design and layout
1. The provision of up to 10,000m2 of comparison and convenience shopping floorspace and some 210 dwellings.
2. The provision of a more prominent station entrance fronting onto Sessions House Square/Week Street.
3. Development is designed to respond to the listed Sessions House and its setting. Development should provide an ‘active’ frontage comprising individual retail units facing the west side of Sessions House Square and provide direct pedestrian entrance into the development via this frontage.
4. Development is designed to achieve a visual and physical connection between Sessions Square and Brenchley Gardens.
5. The overall height and bulk of development is controlled to limit the overall incursion in views of Sessions House from the west.
6. Assessment of the archaeological potential of the site is undertaken and the measures needed to address the assessment’s findings secured.
7. The provision of commuter car parking to serve Maidstone East railwaystation.
8. Maintenance access for Network Rail to the western end of the railway tracks is secured.
9. The incorporation of landscaped elements within the overall scheme design including the retention of existing landscape features where possible. Where the loss of existing landscape features is unavoidable, appropriate compensatory planting must be provided.
10. The scheme enables the improved, safe and convenient interchange between buses, trains and taxis, including through the provision of improved pick up/drop off facilities.
11. Full disabled access to the station and platforms is secured.
12. Highway access is taken from Sandling Road. An additional, in-bound only access to the Sorting Office part of the site could be taken from Fairmeadow.
13. Development will be subject to the results and recommendations of a Phase 1 ecological survey.
Flooding and water quality
14. The submission of a detailed surface water drainage strategy for the development based around sustainable drainage principles .
15. The submission of a transportation noise assessment and the delivery of resultant noise attenuation measures in particular for residential development sited close to the railway line and/or Fairmeadow.
16. The submission of an air quality assessment and emissions reduction plan to be agreed with the council.
17. The submission of a land contamination assessment and the delivery of resultant mitigation measures.
18. Improvements at Sessions House Square and Week Street to provide an enhanced public open space and public realm.
19. Contributions to a comprehensive public realm enhancement scheme for the stretch of Week Street linking the site to the junction with Fremlin Walk, and from the site to Brenchley Gardens, to significantly upgrade the quality and attractiveness for pedestrians.
4.0 LOCAL REPRESENTATIONS
4.01 A site notice was displayed at the site on 17th October 2016 and expired on 14th November 2016. The proposal was advertised as a major proposal on 21st October 2016 and expired on 18th November 2016.
4.02 No representations have been received from local residents or local businesses.
5.01 Environmental Health:
No concerns regarding air quality and noise.
A Publically accessible EV “rapid charge” point (of 22kW or faster) should be provided per 1000m2 of commercial floor space. Ideally any dwellings with dedicated off-street parking should be provided with their own charge points for low-emission plug-in vehicles. Where these things are not practicable, contribution towards installation at nearby locations should be considered.
5.02 Kent Police
Crime prevention is not mentioned within the application and a condition is suggested to ensure a suitable design. Suggest that the car park is constructed the Park Mark standards of safe car parks.
5.03 Environment Agency
No objection subject to condition regarding contamination
5.04 Local Lead Flood Authority
No objection – development regarded as low risk.
5.05 KCC Highway Services
5.05.1 The traffic generation forecasting for the proposed temporary car park has been undertaken by projecting the accumulation profile measured for the Invicta House car park opposite. Ninety nine (99) of the 250 spaces proposed are intended for KCC staff allocation under license. One hundred and forty one spaces (141) are intended for a combination of both long and short stay, pay and display parking, however. The split of which, as far as I am aware has not yet been determined.
5.05.2 It is considered that the accumulation profile for this latter allocation (56% of the total) may be somewhat different. I would expect that long stay car parking may attract rail users and their arrival times may be earlier. I would also expect that short stay parking may attract shopping or local business trips and their arrival times may be later than the morning peak periods identified from surveys. It could be conjectured therefore that the traffic generation forecasts predicted from the Transport Assessment are robust in terms of the peak hour projections.
5.05.3 It is noted that off-site junction capacity analysis was initially undertaken on the basis of a 437 space car park, which in physical terms could be accommodated on the site. This showed that most notably for Stacey Street arrivals from the Lower Boxley Road/Prison direction in the morning peak period, theoretical capacity was exceeded at the Sandling Road/Staceys Street roundabout. Under this scenario, as confirmed by the modelling, queues and delays increase exponentially. As a consequence of this analysis the number of car parking spaces proposed was significantly reduced.
5.05.4 The proposed 250 space car park is shown to achieve ratios of flow to capacity that, whilst close to the theoretical maximum in the case of the Sandling Road/Stacey Street roundabout, are broadly comparable to the conditions that could otherwise occur if the permitted use of the site as a Royal Mail Depot were still in operation.
5.05.5 It should further be borne in mind that this application is for a temporary period, for up to 5 years. The forecast operating conditions will not therefore be permanent.
5.05.6 In terms of wider aspects, it is understood that pedestrian movements in the area can understood that large pedestrian movements can also occur on Saturdays or in mid-week when Maidstone United are playing at home. The temporary car park proposed here could help to reduce any on street parking in residential areas that occurs surrounding the stadium and the traffic movements associated with vehicles circulating to find somewhere to park during busy periods.
5.05.7 I write to confirm therefore on behalf of this authority that I have no objection to the application for a temporary period not exceeding five years.
5.05.8 Finally I note that with respect to the warehousing/storage elements of the proposal swept path analyses of a 10m rigid lorry has been provided to show turning/forward egress. Unless satisfactory turning for larger vehicles can be demonstrated, it would be useful to condition any approval that HGV access is limited to the vehicle specification demonstrated i.e. the 10m rigid lorry turning shown on Evans & Langford option C drawing 13527/20.
5.05.8 It is also understood that amendments to road signage would be required to direct road users to the new car park. A condition should also be included for details to be submitted for checking and approval.
5.06 Southern Water
No objection but informative suggested.
5.07 KCC Archaeology
5.08 Developer has proposed the following in response to the above comments:
5.08.1 Environmental Health
We note the requested condition for publically accessible ‘rapid charge’ points for the commercial areas. Whilst there is merit in providing these points, given the temporary nature of this application, we deem it unnecessary for them to be provided at this time. There are already a number of accessible points outside County Hall opposite this site which receive moderate patronage, and therefore these would be sufficient to cater for the current demand. Of course as a parking operator, should there be a significant increase in demand for use of charging points then MBC would seek to install them in appropriate locations. As such we deem that the proposed condition is not required.
5.08.2 Kent Police
We have been in contact with the CPDA officer regarding their requirements for the scheme, in particular KDI Design for Crime Prevention. We discussed the proposals for internal pedestrian routes utilising the raised platform to provide a segregated route through the site which benefits from natural surveillance. The carpark building will also have some internal wall removed to improve ventilation and visibility along the frontage. Vehicle and pedestrian routes will be clearly defined through the site, and there will be appropriate signage to direct site users to appropriate areas.
5.08.3 There is also a scheme of CCTV cameras being developed to cover both internal and external areas, but this has not yet been finalised. This CCTV proposal will also be reviewed by appropriate MBC and KCC officers prior to implementation. We have identified areas particularly to the rear of the site which are more remote but act as fire escape routes. Clearance of undergrowth has already taken place along these routes so that it can be seen from the adjacent railway station carpark, and again CCTV will be provided. Lighting lux levels across the site are to be checked, particularly within the internal and undercroft carparks, and improved where they do not meet minimum standards.
5.08.4 There are no plans to join the Park Mark scheme and there is no legal requirement to provide this accreditation. MBC have not supported the Parkmark scheme for many years now (along with many other local authorities) as it is completely unknown by customers, not publically promoted by the BPA and expensive in terms of annual inspections/accreditation etc. and therefore has limited value. MBC will of course be meeting their H&S requirements in terms of lighting, signage and ensuring the environment is safe for customers during the limited lifespan as a car park. Also there is no proposal to apply for BREEAM, as this would be not financially viable considering the temporary nature of the site.
5.08.5 We acknowledge that Kent Police suggest a condition to be included, and the wording they propose seem suitable however it would our preference for this to be ‘prior to occupation’ rather than a pre-commencement condition.
5.08.6 KCC (Highways)
We have previously submitted a signage scheme to KCC Highways and they have given their in-principle agreement to the proposed sign types and locations. The proposed condition regarding delivery vehicle swept paths is agreed.
5.08.7 Southern Water
We note the informative being requested regarding connection to the public sewerage system. As the site is already connected to the system and not changes are proposed, the informative is not necessary.
5.08.8 Submitted Local Plan designation
We acknowledge that submitted plan has weight, and by applying for a temporary approval that safeguards the retention of the strategically important site, this proposal therefore is made to supports the future implementation of policy RMX1 (2) into residential and retail space. It should be noted that the masterplan process for future site redevelopment is underway.
6.0 BACKGROUND PAPERS AND PLANS
6.01 The development proposals are shown on drawing numbers
6.02 The application is supported by the following documents:
1. Planning Design and Access statement
2. Air Quality Statement
3. Drainage Impact statement
4. Transport assessment
5. Transport technical note
6. Justification note for five year temporary use (included as Appendix 1)
Weighting of considerations and Principle of Development
7.01 Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 provides that all planning applications must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless other material considerations indicate otherwise. In this case the Development Plan comprises the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000.
7.02 Paragraph 216 of the NPPF states that,
"From the day of publication, decision-takers may also give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans according to:
· the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given);
· the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given); and
· the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in this Framework (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).”
As a matter of judgment in relation to these criteria, including the advanced stage of the Submitted Local Plan, currently at Examination in Public, I consider that it has significant weight.
7.03 In terms of other material considerations, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is a key consideration, in particular the presumption in favour of sustainable development identified in paragraph 14 of the NPPF means that permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the application, when assessed against the policies of the NPPF as a whole. The NPPF also underlines the Government’s commitment to securing economic growth, and to ensuring that the planning system supports sustainable economic growth. It provides that significant weight should be placed on the need to support economic growth through the planning system (NPPF paragraphs 18-19). Clearly the NPPF does need to be read as a whole.
Section 5 indicates that the highways authority consider that the impact of the proposal, which proposes 244 car parking spaces, together with the vehicle movements associated with the other proposed uses, would not be in excess of the previous Royal Mail use and is acceptable in terms of highway impact and road safety. The provision of public car parking spaces in the area would have a beneficial effect in meeting parking demand from town centre shoppers and local workers. The requirement for off-site signage to guide drivers is proposed to be addressed via condition.
7.05 Temporary Planning Permission
The proposed uses are not in accordance with the allocation of the site in the Adopted Borough-Wide Plan 2000 or the Submitted Local Plan, outlined in section 3.3 of this report. However the proposed uses are being promoted by new owners, MBC and KCC, as a way to financially secure the site as part of a long term regeneration proposal including the wider Maidstone East site. As such, the principle of the temporary uses proposed is acceptable in policy terms.
The planning application is for temporary use of the site for five years. The reasons given for this period are included as Appendix 1. Under section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended temporary uses are by default limited to three years, but a greater or shorter length of time is possible where a case is made. I do not consider the proposal prejudices the proposed uses allocated in the Submitted Draft Local Plan. Indeed the temporary uses are designed to allow sufficient time and resources are available to allow a compliant proposal to be worked up. Given the history of the site and the need for comprehensive proposal that includes a masterplanned approach, multiple stakeholders and potential occupiers and consent regimes, it is considered that a five year consent is acceptable in such circumstances.
7.06 In terms of electric vehicle charging, the applicant has pointed out that numerous charging points already exist near the site within the KCC campus and I accept that in such circumstances, it is not necessary for the proposal to provide additional charging points.
7.07 Other Matters
The proposal will not have a significant effect upon landscape, biodiversity
or visual impact. It is considered acceptable in term of design and layout considerations. The proposed temporary uses will benefit the voluntary sector businesses and their customers. Issues of site security are proposed to be covered by condition.
8.1. I have considered the proposal, in relation to Section 38(6) of the 2004 Act. The starting point is the development plan. As the proposal is for temporary uses and designed to help secure the site while comprehensive redevelopment is secured, it is not considered to conflict with the allocation of the site for permanent uses as specified in the development plan and submitted local plan.
8.2 In accordance with policy guidance in the NPPF, there are three dimensions to sustainable development giving rise to the need for the planning system to perform environmental, economic and social roles. There would be no significant harm to the environment. Economic and social aspects have also been considered. As such, I consider the development would perform acceptably in terms of economic, social and environmental roles required under the NPPF and that judged in the round, as temporary uses for up to five years, it would constitute sustainable development. Any adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
8.3 The development would be acceptable in terms of its impact on the landscape, drainage, biodiversity and highways subject to appropriate planning conditions and obligations. The proposal represents a high quality scheme.
8.4 For all of these reasons, I consider that material considerations indicate that planning permission should be granted.
The development hereby permitted
shall be begun before the expiration of three years from the date of this
Reason: In accordance with the provisions of Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended by Section 51 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
2. The development hearby permitted shall cease before the expiration of five years from the date of this permission.
Reason: in order to avoid prejudicing the long term redevelopment of the site.
3. If, during development, contamination not previously identified is found to be present at the site then no further development (unless otherwise agreed in writing with the local planning authority) shall be carried out until the developer has submitted a remediation strategy to the local planning authority detailing how this unsuspected contamination shall be dealt with and obtained written approval from the local planning authority. The remediation strategy shall be implemented as approved.
Reasons: To prevent pollution of controlled waters and comply with the National Planning Policy Framework.
4. The development hereby permitted shall incorporate measures included lighting to minimise the risk of crime. Prior to occupation details of such measures, according to the principles and physical security requirements of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The approved measures shall be implemented before the development is occupied and thereafter retained.
Reason: In the interest of security, crime prevention and community safety
5. Any heavy goods vehicle access is limited to the vehicle specification of 10 metres long rigid lorry demonstrated on Evans & Langford option C drawing 13527/20.
Reason: In the interests of road safety.
6. Directional signage shall be in place prior to first use of the public car park hereby approved.
Reason: In the interests of road safety and the environment.
As the development involves demolition and / or construction, I would recommend that the applicant is supplied with the Mid Kent Environmental Code of Development Practice. Broad compliance with this document is expected.
There are strong suggestions within the submitted information that a future planning application involving the redevelopment of this site and adjacent sites such as the railway station is planned. Detailed contamination investigation documents are likely to be required at that stage, and the above comments relate to application reference 16/507358/FULL only
Above ground storage of oils, fuels or chemicals
Any facilities for the storage of oils, fuels or chemicals shall be provided with secondary containment that is impermeable to both the oil, fuel or chemical and water, for example a bund, details of which shall be submitted to the local planning authority for approval. The minimum volume of the secondary containment should be at least equivalent to the capacity of the tank plus 10%. If there is more than one tank in the secondary containment the capacity of the containment should be at least the capacity of the largest tank plus 10% or 25% of the total tank capacity, whichever is greatest.
All fill points, vents, gauges and sight gauge must be located within the secondary containment. The secondary containment shall have no opening used to drain the system. Associated above ground pipework should be protected from accidental damage. Below ground pipework should have no mechanical joints, except at inspection hatches and either leak detection equipment installed or regular leak checks. All fill points and tank vent pipe outlets should be detailed to discharge downwards into the bund.
A formal application for connection to the public sewerage system is required in order to service this development, please contact Southern Water, Sparrowgrove House, Sparrowgrove, Otterbourne, Hampshire SO21 2SW.
Submission from Applicant regarding need for 5 year temporary consent.
Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) and Kent County Council’s (KCC) intention is to seek the comprehensive redevelopment of the former Royal Mail Sorting Office site and the adjacent commuter car park owned by Network Rail. Over the last 15 years the private sector has considered a number of schemes covering some or all of the land but have failed to deliver a viable retail led development. Viability and delivery are key issues in the current climate, and need to be carefully blended with the essential delivery of housing, employment, place-making and setting standards in design quality, sustainability and energy efficiency. KCC and MBC do not under estimate the time and resources which may be necessary in attracting a retail occupier(s)/ interest in the current economic climate.
The site has a number of significant challenges including topographical, geotechnical and contamination and constraints including highways and the need to consider sympathetically the nearby Listed Buildings. Considerable work will be needed to identify a viable mixed used development that overcomes these challenges.
Moreover the Maidstone East development will require the consent of Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) which regulates how Network Rail Infrastructure Limited (Network Rail) disposes of its land through condition 7 of its network licence. This consent process will follow the process to obtain planning consent and as a result the development timetable will be extended further.
Finally Maidstone, like other towns, serve multiple purposes for a wide range of people and organisations and the most effective outcomes of large scale development and regeneration can only be achieved through effective stakeholder engagement and consultation in order that all those who will be affected by any regeneration proposals can understand the objectives, contribute to the solutions and take ownership of the project. The proposed master planning processes and its various workstreams will focus on informing the proposed development from its initial concept, through the various design stages to the final delivery and will not be limited to statutory consultation associated with a planning application. This proposed stakeholder engagement including ward members and County Divisional members, local land owners, the train operating companies, the public, Maidstone Disability Network, bus operators, taxi representatives and other businesses to name but a few will extend the delivery timetable.
All of the above supports the need for a temporary 5 year consent.
Indicative Development timescale:
- Two years to master plan, market and seek occupier demand and a viable scheme
- Two years to get the relevant consents including planning “Station Change” and License Condition 7 from the ORR
- 1 year to procure and mobilise contractors, so a start on site in year 5.