Local News for West Malling - No 78 from Trudy Dean, Nick Stapleton, Bill Banks and Nick Taplin
But vaccinations will not be completed till September, and schools remain closed until 8th March at the earliest. So we need to stick with the advice, and stay safe to keep the cases dropping around here.
County Councillor for Larkfield, East and West Malling
20 mph Consultation results
Thank you to everyone who responded to our informal consultation on extending the 20 mph zone in West Malling. The results are very clear.
We received 45 votes in favour of the proposals and only 2 against. We received 18 survey responses from outside the parish, mainly from East Malling, Larkfield and Leybourne. 14 of these were in favour and 4 against.
We can now present these results to Kent Highways, for them to carry out the formal consultation in Spring.
Hungry Guest Planning Application
A Planning Application has been submitted for conversion of 85 High Street, the Hungry Guest, into a large ground floor delicatessen. The cafe and kitchen area of the Hungry Guest will be knocked through into the ‘Swan Mill’ property at the rear which opens into the shoppers car park near the wedding shop. The first floor is planned to be a wine bar, with storage and staff facilities on the second floor.
The removal of air conditioning plant and waste bins will much improve the neglected feel of the narrow yard beside the mill. Removal of an internal wall has revealed evidence that there was previously a ground floor door between the Hungry Guest and Swan Mill. What goes around .......
The cafe/restaurant business is to be transferred to Arundel House, the large building by the bus stop currently being renovated.
The application can be viewed on the Tonbridge and Malling Planning website by entering the code 20/00081/FL
Amongst the supporting documents is the fascinating Heritage England account of the historical importance of this building and the adjoining shop, now Costa Coffee. It suggests that Swan Mill was probably never a Mill, but built around 1830 as a storage facility for the adjoining shop, which was in the same ownership, and which is now occupied by Costa Coffee. The ‘ Ancient House’ at the rear of Costa is the real gem of this group of buildings, and the reason for their importance. It is thought to have been built to house the priest for the Abbey, and is an extremely rare example of a 12th century domestic building, and has the highest Grade 1 protected listing. Currently, the Ancient House is used as storage for Costa, and I have been working for some time with the owners to find a way to open it up for public use. It could become the Oldest Coffee House in the country!
Council Tax from April 2021
West Malling Parish Council is keeping its Council Tax the same next year as this year. KCC is proposing a 5% increase.
Rotary House, Norman Road
Building Surveys and site valuations have been taking place at the former Age Concern Centre this week. The surveys are for the Parish Council who are considering a bid to buy the property.
What do you think the building should be used for? Let us know your views.
Chaucer Way verge ‘churned up mud’
We have received several complaints regarding this verge near the path to Tesco car park. It appears KCC returfed it, but heavy rain and shopper pavement parking reduced the area to a muddy bog. This is a long standing problem, and despite yellow lines, people still park there for a quick shop. What is the answer? If the area is to be grass, it needs a kerb side barrier to prevent the same thing happening again. Otherwise, should it just be tarmaced? We would welcome your views. [email protected] [email protected]
MUD, MUD, not so glorious MUD
I’m quite partial to mud. I’m famous in our family for finding countrywalks which always include a muddy bit! But you don’t have to look far at the moment. Lockdown and heavy rain are creating mud baths at the gateways to all popular walking paths. So if you can use less popular routes and spread the wear a bit, that would be good. We are asking KCC for extra money in the budget to reinstate the surfaces when better weather comes.
Fast Trains from West Malling to London - More Years of Broken Promises
KCC has caved in to Government and approved a Rail Strategy which does not include the promised fast trains from Maidstone and West Malling to the City and St Pancras, with connections to Crossrail at Farringdon. Instead, KCC have accepted an 80 minute service which will use the Catford line and terminate at Blackfriars, for a connecting service to St Pancras. This is slower than existing services.
Trudy writes: Transport Ministers have been promising additional fast trains on this line, ever since the huge outcry when our services to Cannon Street were stopped in 2009. This Rail Strategy will be the basis for consultation on the new Rail Franchise for Kent for at least the next ten years so I am supporting attempts to get KCC to change its mind and oppose this strategy. Local commuters and businesses want the Government to deliver on their promises of fast, direct rail links to the City and beyond to Cambridge, with connections to Luton and Bedford.
VOUCHERS FOR FREE SCHOOL MEALS
John Vennart, Headteacher at The Malling School, has advised us that TMS are now changing to vouchers for free school meals rather than food boxes. So if your children are entitled to receive Free school meals when they attend school, and have not received your vouchers, contact the school, ready for half term.
New Waste water plant in Aylesford
South East Water are putting in specialist equipment at the old Aylesford Paper site for treating water from their boreholes. This supply will be used to provide drinking water for the local area. They intend to refurbish an existing tank for storage use.
They have also purchased the Ditton stream and former millpond through the grounds of the Cobdown Sports Ground. They are keen to hear from local residents about what they would like to see there.
A new Care Home for West Malling?
People in West and East Malling will be receiving leaflets about a planning application for a proposed Care Home on Lucks Hill near West Malling Station, opposite More Park Roman Catholic Primary School. Planning permission for a 200 space car park was given to this site in 2018. But nearly 12 months of lockdown have meant empty car parks, and home working is expected to continue. The owners have therefore decided that a car park is ‘no longer viable’, and are applying for a 70 bed care home on the site instead. Single bed rooms with en-suite facilities will be offered to private and NHS patients with dementia, and needing end of life care.
In a pre-application meeting with parish councillors, I pointed out the need for better lighting and a pedestrian crossing from Station Road North for commuters and Care Home users if the application is successful.
This is likely to be a controversial application as some people will see it as an attempt to build in the proposed Green Belt, whilst others will see it as an improvement on the existing permission for a car park which it would replace.
Fish and Chip Shop, West Malling.
This Swan Street shop is under new management, and we wish it well.
Rosie’s Outdoor Seating
The Borough Council has advised the owners of Rosie’s cafe that the outdoor seating area requires Planning Permission since the original Shop premises is a Listed Building
The Council has had a number of complaints regarding customers queueing in Swan Street who are blocking the pavement and not observing social distancing rules.
It's great to see Rosie's being so popular, but please do observe the rules or the business may risk being closed down.
Vaccinations for anyone over 70s, keyworkers or with medical problems making them vulnerable, are still being done by invitation only from all local GPs at Leybourne surgery. A new vaccination centre will be opening shortly in the Angel Centre to serve the Tonbridge end of the Borough.
However, the West Malling practice is checking that they have contacted everybody and they ask you to contact the surgery
- If you are over 80 years of age
- And you have not yet been contacted by the practice regarding your first vaccination
- And are not housebound,
If you meet all of these provisions, please contact the surgery on 01732 870212
If you are housebound, tell the surgery when you are contacted, and home vaccination or transport can be arranged.
Lots of slots for Covid-free tests
Half of the local booking slots for tests for people without Covid symptoms are still free. Tests are recommended every two weeks if you are travelling to work.
These tests have found over 1,500 people in Kent who were spreading the disease without knowing it.
I am pleased to confirm that the bookings can now be made for all testing sites at www.kent.gov.uk/symptomfreetest
Leaving the Country? You need to get a test
Anyone wanting to leave the country for business or emergency reasons will need to show evidence of a negative test taken within 72 hours of the date of travelling. This includes drivers taking goods for export. Foreign travel for holidays is now banned and cars are being turned back at the coast ports and Eurotunnel. The Government website says that if you need proof of a negative coronavirus test to enter another country, you must use a private test provider.
There are thieves about. Look out for your cars and bikes
The latest crime reports for our area show continued vandalism and theft on cars parked on the road. Use your garage if you have one.
Thefts from garden sheds continue in West Malling, Offham and Ryarsh, especially of cycles and high value garden equipment.
Snodland, A228 Holborough Road: Lane closure in place 18th January - 1st April on the Southbound carriageway only from Peter’s Bridge to Holborough Roundabout to allow for new development works. Please allow extra time for your journey: http://moorl.uk/?1uplhdw