Waterside Park planning decision due

Plans that would help two award-winning Maidstone businesses to grow, will be decided by the Borough Council’s planning committee on Thursday, October 16.

The two Kent companies - Automotive Distributors Ltd (ADL) and Scarab Sweepers Ltd, both currently based in Marden, have submitted multi-million pound plans to invest at Waterside Park, the proposed development on land near junction 8 of the M20, near Maidstone.

Following the previous rejection of the planning application, the two companies and Gallagher Properties, the Maidstone-based developers of Waterside Park, worked closely with the planning and economic development teams at Maidstone Borough Council to revise the original plans.

The new proposals have seen the floorspace of the buildings reduced by 20 per cent,  by removing two speculative units from the plans. The proposed buildings for Scarab and ADL are both two metres lower than previously proposed, and green walls have been incorporated into the design.

To reduce its impact on the environment the western part of the site will now remain undeveloped, reducing excavation by around 30%. The buffer between ADL’s building and the ancient woodland has been increased.  

The companies currently have a combined workforce of 450 people, and there’s the prospect of creating hundreds more jobs, in addition to those associated with the construction of Waterside Park.

Jonathan Buckwell, Planning Director of DHA, who has been advising on Waterside Park, said: “We’ve listened and responded to the concerns that led to the initial refusal. An enormous amount of work has gone into revising the plans and we now have a scheme that the planning officers at Maidstone Borough Council feel able to recommend.”

In advising Councillors to support the Waterside Proposals, the planning officers have argued that the economic benefits associated with retaining the two companies or the benefits associated with employment space at this location, outweighed the harm to the countryside and impact on the location.

The Planning Committee report suggests that a single large site at Junction 8 on the M20, in addition to development at Junction 7, will be a significant opportunity to promote the borough as a business location.

Scarab Sweepers is looking to move its manufacturing operations and head office, to Waterside Park. ADL wants to invest in a new headquarters, warehousing and distribution facility for its Asian, American and prestige British car parts business, serving customers across the world.

Dave Cassingham, Managing Director of Scarab Sweepers, said: “Our own surveys identified a site at Junction 8 as the only viable option to suit the needs of the staff and our business. The Waterside Park development is perfectly located next to a motorway junction which would eliminate virtually all our goods and people traffic that currently uses the town and village routes.” 

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