Next have announced that following local consultation prior to Christmas, a planning application has now been submitted to Maidstone Borough Council to bring one of the company’s brand new concept Home and Fashion stores to Maidstone at Eclipse Park, close to Junction 7 of the M20.
Iain Allsop, Regional Estates Manager, at Next said:
“We were very encouraged by the reaction to our plans as just over 90% of the feedback forms we received from the public exhibition we organised showed support or support with reservations for our plans. We also have over 1,100 ‘likes’ on our dedicated Facebook page, Next4Maidstone. The main concern was about traffic generation, but we were able to explain that the site for the proposed store already has planning permission for an office development that would have greater impact on local roads especially at peak times.”
The value of the investment proposed by Next and Gallagher Properties amounts to some £9 million and will create around 180 job opportunities. The company offers industry-leading training to its staff, 75% of whom are aged between 18 and 25 years old. The new concept store offers men’s, women’s and children’s fashions alongside a wide range of furniture, home furnishings, decorating and DIY products.
Iain Allsop added:
“We were able to reassure people about impact on the town centre. Our existing Next store at The Mall, Chequers is scheduled to close at the end of its lease later this year. Our other store at Fremlin Walk will remain open and is guaranteed to be kept open. In addition, the retail assessment we have produced as part of the planning application demonstrates that the new store will have negligible impact on the trade of the town centre (1.2%).”
Nick Yandle, Chief Executive of Gallagher Properties added:
“Many visitors to the public exhibition said that they were very impressed by the external and internal design of the new building. We are delighted that Next has chosen Eclipse Park as a location for one of its showcase stores in preference to other locations in Kent.
“Provided that the application is supported by Maidstone Borough Council, I am sure that this will increase the attractiveness of Maidstone as a place for new investment. Furthermore, we expect that Next’s profile, and the new format store, will draw trade in from Ashford and the Medway towns, as well as from a large part of central Kent. This opportunity will provide a boost for the town centre and wider area.”
The reference number of the planning application is 12/2314. More information can be found about the proposals on Facebook Next4Maidstone or by following @Next4Maidstone on Twitter. A helpline is also available on 0207 242 0170.