The regeneration of the Maidstone East area of the town moved a huge step closer when Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council jointly agreed to acquire Royal Mail’s former Maidstone mail centre and delivery office site in Sandling Road.
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, which is expected to be completed in September, 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.
The two authorities will jointly seek to produce a masterplan for the site. It is hoped that as this develops they will be able to promote collaboration with other landowners in the vicinity which would form the basis for a broader scheme encompassing Maidstone East railway station and the former Old Vic pub.
The masterplan is expected to take three to five years to complete.
Consultants will be appointed to ensure that the scheme is as attractive as possible to private sector partners and is welcomed and supported by residents and local businesses.
In the meantime, part of the former mail centre and delivery office site is being sublet to a charity for use as a depot.
Further temporary uses for the site are being sought and additional parking spaces will be made available.
Cllr Fran Wilson, Leader of Maidstone Borough Council, 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: “Kent County Council 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.”
“Our Property team has been working on this scheme with colleagues from Maidstone ever since Royal Mail took the decision to market the site and I am delighted to see all those efforts come to fruition.”