The Parade of Shops
We are absolutely delighted to bring you some fantastic news
4th May 2018
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to write in as possible, and were organising a rally to oppose this application when news came of the application being withdrawn due to no fewer than 300 objections being lodged with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC).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!