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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Former Maidstone library site to be transformed into affordable housing scheme

Developer Southern Grove has secured a site in London commuter hotspot Maidstone, Kent, for an affordable and design-led housing scheme.

All 175 units, set to be built on the site of the Old Springfield Library, will be available through Shared Ownership or at Affordable Rent, and underlines Southern Grove’s mission to provide affordable housing close to key transport links across London and the Home Counties.

The land deal comes at a time of economic uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but Southern Grove says it believes in the long-term investment strength of residential schemes in commuter hotspots.

The scheme will be developed by local architects in Canterbury, On Architecture, with the surrounding area in mind. Sight lines will be provided to retain views from the highway of the attractive Grade II listed Springfield House. It will be delivered in conjunction with a housing association and discussions with potential partners are currently ongoing

The site of the former Kent County Council reference library sits in an area undergoing intensive development, thanks to the town’s rail links to London.

The Chatham Road site is just a 10-minute walk from Maidstone East station, which connects commuters to London King’s Cross in as little as an hour. Neighbouring the site is another development of 502 homes that is already well underway and incorporates a 17-storey tower.

Southern Grove’s scheme is designed to be sympathetic to its surroundings, including the neighbouring Grade II listed Springfield House, which is currently used as an office space.

The developer was assisted by Maidstone-based planning consultants DHA Planning and the site was identified with the help of land agent Chris McGale of Tyrone Capital Partners.

The Old Springfield Library site has already been the subject of a failed planning application, with previous proposals for a 16-storey tower rejected in November on the grounds that it was too high and imposing.

The applicant, Peker Holdings, has now handed control of the site to Southern Grove as part of a subject-to-planning agreement that will create a viable scheme that is lower in height.

Tom Slingsby, chief executive officer of developer Southern Grove, comments: “Local authorities have never been under more pressure to provide affordable housing but are also big supporters of inspirational and sympathetic design.”

“We aim to meet the expectations of everyone locally with a design-led scheme that is very pleasing on the eye and offers minimal visual impact on the surrounding area.”

He says Southern Grove will be getting creative to ensure the new development makes the most of Springfield House.

“We’re pressing ahead with the scheme despite the economic fallout from coronavirus still being unclear because we can see Maidstone offers a strong foothold in the London commuter belt, with many young professionals choosing to put down roots and start a family there. It’s a good long-term investment,” Slingsby concludes.

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