Sunday, 3 February 2013

What Next for Eclipse Park?

Next have submitted a planning application for a huge 'Homeware' store on Eclipse Park near Junction 7 of the M20. Maidstone town centre already has two Next stores, although neither are the homeware variety. Eclipse Park was a greenfield site that has been developed as a business park over the past few years.

We visited the site this afternoon and there were a few striking points...

Firstly, it has been cleared - a couple of acres of mud is all that is left of the scrub that I remember - which is interesting when you read the ecological survey in the planning application, and I quote:

The site was inspected for indications of the following:
  • Evidence of suitable nesting places for birds;
  • Tracks and signs of faunal species including droppings, paw prints, nesting material, hairs, food remains, feeding activity, places of rest or shelter;
  • Scrub/grassland complex and potential hibernation sites for common
  • The presence of places for breeding, shelter, food or hibernation for great
    crested newts including ponds and riparian connectivity to the surrounding
  • The presence of places of breeding, shelter, food or hibernation for dormice;
then later in the report it states: The three habitats identified within the development site collectively have a low ecological value.

No shit! Clear the place ready for development and who would question the wisdom of it.

Of course that is not all that is bad about this development. There are already two Next's in town, a town which is creaking like many other clone towns in the country as the high street loses its big names. Internet shopping and out of town shops are to blame and while we can't do much about internet shopping, we really don't want to encourage more out of town shops.

Finally, if there is to be development there, then it needs to be industrial or office space, like the majority of the business park.

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