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Springfield Development Update

April 24, 2017 9:15 AM
By Ian Chittenden

County Councillor Ian Chittenden

H: 01622 630867 M: 07880 798163 email: ian.gills@btinternet.com

Dear Resident of North Ward,

Springfield Development Update

As things are getting even more complicated I thought it was time to bring you up to date.

There are currently four unimplemented planning permissions and a live planning application on the derelict land comprising the formerly Kent County Council owned Springfield site:

 Permission for office and residential blocks (site of former KCC Central Block and Highways and County Print buildings covering land south and west of Springfield House near Royal Engineers Road);

 Outline permission for houses (site of former Highways and County Print buildings near Royal Engineers Road); EXTANT (they can still build this if they want to)

 Permission for residential tower blocks (site of former Highways and County Print buildings nearest Royal Engineers Road); (site that was granted permission in February)

 Permission for residential blocks (site of former County Library); and

 Application 17/501503/FULL for residential blocks (site of former KCC Central Block).

We also understand that a new application is in the pipeline for the former former County Library site. Demolition has been delayed until a further assessment has been made on the extent of Asbestos and the safe means of its removal.

For commercial / profit reasons not one of these permissions has been implemented in the 15 years since KCC pulled out from the bulk of their Springfield campus. Much to the frustration of all involved, the fragmentation of the site across different property developers has made tackling 'estate management' problems such as problem parking and fly-tipping challenging in the extreme. Additionally, the conditioned gardens and nature reserve on the former tennis courts and car park between the Listed 'Gothic Revival' Springfield House and the River Medway have failed to materialise. Your local Lib Dem Councillors did successfully negotiate that the nature reserve and garden should be implemented should the recent tower block permission go ahead, however, in light of the new planning application this now seems unlikely in the form agreed.

We strongly recommend that local residents inspect the latest planning application at the former KCC Springfield site (17/501503/FULL). We have some concerns regarding this latest application including:

• There is a big question mark over whether it is appropriate to bring forward only the more lucrative residential component of the original mixed use permission, ignoring the employment element;

• The scale and mass of the proposed residential blocks will have a significant negative impact upon the landscape of this remarkably unspoilt section of the Medway Valley;

• Impact upon legally protected wildlife;

• The proximity of the proposed blocks to local woodland will have a negative impact upon trees and wildlife;

• The minimal area made available for landscaping is not sufficient to screen the proposed development or mitigate negative impacts upon wildlife;

• The absence of any detail on planting is unacceptable; and

• The absence of renewable energy generation within this proposal is not compliant with local or national planning policy.

The Springfield Mill (Whatmans) site to the south of the former KCC campus is now also subject to developer interest by a national house builder. Pre-application discussions and site visits recently took place between the prospective developer and Maidstone Council Officers and Elected Members. North Ward Councillor Tony Harwood, who knows the site and its history particularly well, has submitted detailed observations on the scheme and is working closely with Council planners to ensure an acceptable design and layout. Your local Lib Dem Councillors are determined that any application for the Springfield Mill site protect the amenity of neighbouring residents and Medway Valley. A high quality, well landscaped and 'human scale' urban village approach is favoured, which safeguards in its entirety the beautiful woodland, riverside flood meadow and mill pond on the site, as well as maintaining historic industrial features such as the landmark Listed chimney, rag room and beam. We understand that the height of proposed buildings has already been reduced and additional tree planting introduced along the Royal Engineers Road boundary in the latest plans.

As a post-script we continue to press the highway authority Kent County Council for enhanced safety measures along Royal Engineers Road, including improved pedestrian crossing facilities and more effective enforcement of the 40 mph speed limit.

Yours sincerely

Ian Chittenden

PS - We have contacted the Springfield Library developer again and reported the problems of pedestrian walkway etc. There is no news at this time as to when demolition will re-start.

Promoted and published by Martin Cox on behalf of Maidstone Liberal Democrats at 56 Bower Mount Road, Maidstone ME16 8AU. Printed by 4 Printing, 5, Mangravet avenue, Maidstone ME15 9BQ.