Marks and Spencer has announced that they are seeking to provide a new superstore with 60,000 sq. ft. of sales space and 300 car parking spaces, at Eclipse Park (former Newnham Court Farm) in Maidstone. It will be sited on the same area as the previously approved Waitrose store.
It is understood the new store if permitted will sell homewear, clothes and include a food store. It could create 200 full-time jobs.
Marks and Spencer is also planning to upgrade its existing menswear and foodstore store in Week Street, but it is likely that the women’s branch, a few doors away, will close when the company’s lease on the building runs out in 2022.
The company has already entered into pre-application discussions with Maidstone Council and expects to submit a full planning application by Christmas. The timetable would see construction begin if it is permitted in autumn of next year, with the new store opening in autumn 2019.
Cllr Nikki Fissenden (Lib Dem) who represents East Ward which includes Eclipse Park said: “While it seems like good news for Maidstone after Waitrose dropping their plans, we will be seeking the opinion of local residents. The impact on the local environment, quality of life and traffic generation will need to be assessed, as well as impacts upon the future viability of the town centre. The application site’s is located in the foreground of the Kent Downs AONB and close to ancient Heath Wood so achieving good design will be critical.”