Marks & Spencer (M&S) requires a new retail store that is the same footprint as previously permitted for Waitrose, with a 300 space car park, including accessible and parent and child spaces.
Although the new store would have the same footprint, M&S is proposing to develop a two storey building. Unlike the Waitrose proposals, the M&S plant equipment would be located in the service yard, not hidden behind walling on the roof and so the two schemes are not dissimilar in terms of overall height.
The store will provide approximately 5,760m2 (62,000ft2) of sales area. Final decisions on the split have yet to be decided however current thinking is as follows:
M&S would follow many of the principles of the previously approved store with smart, clean glazing and cladding and with Kentish ragstone walling. The north-east corner will provide a prominent, attractive feature for people arriving at the junction 7 ‘gateway’ entrance to Maidstone.
Local consultant DHA Transport has undertaken vehicle surveys and prepared a Transport Assessment, having previously agreed the scope of this exercise with Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council and Highways England.
Data analysis of the proposed new store compared with the previously approved food store shows that fewer M&S customers would visit during peak weekday travel periods as shopping is generally more spread throughout the day, outside peak times.
Service and delivery lorries would access the store from the M20 motorway, avoiding residential areas.
The conclusion is that the new M&S store would have only a minimal added impact on the local roads and related junctions at weekends and certainly nothing very different from the previously approved store.
There are no off-site highway works required for this development following the recent investment of £2m by Gallagher Properties in a new traffic light junction onto Bearsted Road.
New bus stops on Bearsted Road outside the Hilton Hotel, have been completed and a further bus stop within Eclipse Park will also help public transport links between Maidstone town centre and Eclipse Park.
Marks & Spencer employees and customers will be able to make use of the new #9 Arriva service which provides a loop linking Bearsted with Maidstone, as well as Arriva’s existing #333 and #334 services to Sittingbourne and Sheppey to the Town Centre.
During the construction of the new store, all traffic associated with the build programme would access the site from the M20 motorway, avoiding residential areas.