The Bearsted and Thurnham Society, who have fought alongside Hollingbourne Parish Council and others, against the development on Woodcut Farm at Junction 8 on the M20 in Hollingbourne has tonight circulated the following message about the future of the independent shops on Bearsted Green which had been under threat from developers. Many residents of Hollingbourne use these shops which are close to Bearsted Station.
Other local news including Hollingbourne being in the national media, the concerns of local residents about the loss of parking spaces, the death of the last remaining officer of the NZ troops where were billeted in Hollingbourne in 1940, and the opening of a barber’s shop in Eyhorne Street appears at the bottom of the page.
The message from the Bearsted and Thurnham Society reads as follows:-
We are absolutely delighted to bring you some fantastic news.
Mrs Crouch, owner of WJ Crouch Butchers, telephoned this evening to confirm that the purchase of the Parade of Shops on Bearsted had been completed on 25th April.
The Society sends hearty congratulations to Mrs Crouch and her family.
Now it is up to the local community to continue to support the three businesses in years to come.
So ……. Why not head along to the shops tomorrow to offer your congratulations and wish them all well, and make sure you don’t leave empty handed!
This follows years of uncertainty for the owners of the three businesses, the Crouch family, EJ Computers and Taylors, and also of course all their staff.
You will remember the events of recent years:-
First of all there was a planning application out of the blue in December 2014, the busiest time of year particularly for the Crouch Family, for demolition of the entire building, and replacement with three (unspecified) retail units and seven flats on two floors above.
The Bearsted and Thurnham Society encouraged as many people to write in as possible, and were organising a rally to oppose this application when news came of the application being withdrawn due to no fewer than 300 objections being lodged with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC).
During 2015 the Society held meetings with the Crouch Family and, subsequently, with the landlords, Evenden Estates and their planning consultant, Chris Hawkins from DHA Planning. Angela Legood and Kate Kersey, from the Bearsted & District Local History Society (as well as being members of the Society) joined us for this latter meeting, at which it was clear no agreement could be reached. The landlords wanted to demolish and rebuild, the local community clearly wanted those particular businesses retained.
A second planning application, this time for three, again unspecified, retail units and for six flats on two floors above, was submitted to MBC in December 2015, again the busiest time of year, particularly for the Crouch Family business.
At short notice the Society arranged a rally on the Green on the Sunday before Christmas, addressed by KCC Leader, Cllr Paul Carter CBE.
Once again, a large number of letters were submitted to MBC, including a petition containing 317 signatures organised by the Society.
MBC refused this application in February 2016 on the grounds of “loss of non-designated heritage asset causing harm to the Bearsted Conservation Area”, amongst others.
In order to try and head off a third such application, the Society decided to prepare an application to Historic England to have the building listed Grade II.
This was thoroughly researched and prepared by Society committee member (now Vice Chairman), Roger Vidler, who specialised in the historical aspects, and member, Chris Buckingham, a retired planner, who concentrated on the architectural aspects of the building.
Together they prepared a fascinating document running to some 33 pages, which was submitted to Historic England in June 2016, asking that the building be given Grade II listed status. Unfortunately this request was not approved and so a request for a listing review was submitted. This, too, was refused in October 2016.
However, the document exists and the Society was pleased that it is available for future generations.
We are indebted to the following for their support, in no particular order:-
Helen Whately MP
Sir Hugh Robertson MP
KCC Cllr Paul Carter CBE
(Former) KCC Cllr Jenny Whittle
Bearsted and Thurnham ward councillors
Thurnham Parish Council
Bearsted Parish Council
and to the Kent Messenger and the Downs Mail for the publicity generated.
Huge thanks, of course, go to both Roger Vidler and Chris Buckingham.
Lastly, but not least, thanks go to the whole community for getting behind this campaign to SAVE OUR SHOPS.
This has provided a wonderful start to an unusually sunny Bank Holiday weekend, with some great shopping ideas available locally!
Other Local News.
Hollingbourne has featured in the national media over the first week in May in relation to stories about the welfare of long term resident Dudley Wright (72) of Snagbrook House who has not been seen in and around the village for some time. Stories have appeared online and in all of the national papers with the exception of The Guardian and the i. Snagbrook House and the 40 acre accompanying farm, which has reportedly been sold recently for £325,000, is in Eyhorne Street and next to Hollingbourne County Primary School. It is a listed property with outbuildings, a lake, and staff accommodation.
In 2016 Mr Wright sent handwritten letters to a number of local residents including the Parish Council asking them not to contact him directly any more.
The Daily Mail reported on 4th May that he has been visited by Kent Police and KCC Social Services and that they have no cause for concern.
Pictured below is Dudley Wright in May 2014 at a boules tournament in Templeuve which is twinned with Hollingbourne.
Residents on the north side of Eyhorne Street, who live opposite the junction with the Windmill Lane Public Footpath, are to write to Maidstone Borough Council for an assurance that the parking bays outside of their houses will not be sacrificed to provide turning space for large vehicles wishing to access the proposed site for 10 new large detached houses to the west of Windmill Lane. Despite strong local opposition form Hollingbourne Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, and 21 local residents Maidstone Borough Planning Committee granted planning permission on 26th April despite only two members of the Committee having actually inspected the Footpath access to the site which is only 3 metres wide at one point. The Footpath is privately owned and has been maintained by local residents on a pro bono basis.
Concerned residents are worried that the 5 metre wide space between the parking bays and the 5 metre wide entrance to the Footpath will not be big enough for large vehicles such as construction traffic, fire engines, and removal vans to make a right angled turn on to the point of the Footpath. Hence they feel that the bays will be removed to provide access to the development site which is next to HS1 and the M20. The Footpath has a history of accidents relating vehicles getting stuck or causing damage to adjoining properties.
Parking for residents in Eyhorne Street is already a major issue since the introduction of an £85 charge in the Windmill PH Car Park, subsequent restrictions in the use of the Village Hall Car Park, and increases in the rentals in the Eyhorne Mews garages following a change in ownership. In October 2017 the long established Eyhorne Street hairdressers closed partly because of the lack of free parking for customers. The problem is expected to get worse because of the building of new houses in Musket Lane where there is no room for visitor parking.
Pictured below are the parking bays showing the 5 metre gap across the Street which is effectively single track at this point. The width of the Footpath is also 5 metres at this point and most large vehicles need a much larger turning space.
The last remaining officer of the 22nd (Wellington) NZ Infantry Battalion (2nd NZ Expeditionary Force) that was billeted in Hollingbourne during September and October 1940 died on 23rd April just one month after his 101st birthday. Lieutenant Colonel Haddon Donald DSO MC ED was a Second Lieutenant at the time and was billeted in Eyhorne Cottage with the Vernon family. He later served in the Middle East, Greece, and Italy where he took the surrender of all German forces in Italy on 2nd May 1945. He returned to Hollingbourne in December 1944 when he presented the New Zealand flag which presently hangs in Hollingbourne Church.
The former Stone Hair and Beauty Salon in Eyhorne Street which closed last October has been sold and is shortly to reopen as a Men’s Barbers.
Pictured below is the shop prior to closure last year.