Work has started on the iconic Art Deco style control tower at Kings Hill, which will see it restored to its former glory and once again be at the heart of the community.
The Grade II listed building is regarded as one of the best examples of this type of control tower built in the inter-war period. It played a vital role during the Second Word War, responsible for the safety of the pilots based at West Malling Airfield, who included Wing Commander Guy Gibson.
The control tower will be fully refurbished, replacing the original steel casement windows with identical replicas, building new balconies and retaining the original concrete staircase, balustrade and timber handrail.
Two single storey extensions will be added either side of the central building, one of which, together with the whole of the ground floor of the original building, will become a Costa coffee shop. The other side will be given over for a variety of public-orientated cultural and community uses.
The upstairs will be converted into office space and the area outside the building will be landscaped to create an area of grass and a paved square where people can sit and relax.
“This is such an important, historic building and we have taken a great deal of advice in planning the most appropriate use for it,” said Andrew Blevins, managing director of Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd. “It was a living, busy, focal point of the former airfield and we wanted to retain that character and not put it in aspic by turning it into a museum.
“We want people to enjoy and use the building, but have been careful to retain its spirit and reflect its interesting history by creating a cultural element. There will be space for shows and exhibitions as well as an area set aside for memorabilia and artworks commemorating the former airfield.
“Kings Hillians will be able to enjoy a cup of coffee in beautifully restored, historic surroundings and relax in the new gardens, and I am sure the new office space will prove very popular.”
The local Tonbridge office of construction company ISG won the tender bid to undertake the refurbishment works.
Local resident and photographer, Jane Bradford, has volunteered to provide a photographic documentary of the refurbishment of the Control Tower.
Art consultants, Futurecity – which produced the cultural strategy that was submitted as part of Liberty’s plans to enhance Liberty Square, which included the Control Tower – has now been engaged to implement this strategy.
Kings Hill is set in 800 acres near the county town of Maidstone and is just two miles from junction 4 of the M20. It was a former airfield and is now home to around 6,500 residents and more than 100 businesses employing some 5,000 people.
There is an 18 hole golf course; cricket pitch; David Lloyd Leisure centre; further recreation and sports amenities; schools and a village centre with shops including Waitrose; Costa Coffee; Domino’s and restaurants as well as a surgery, dry cleaners, shoe repairers, pharmacy and opticians.
For more information visit www.kings-hill.com
For further information on Kings Hill, please contact:
Alison Hardy, Maxim on 01892 513033 / Alison@maxim-pr.co.uk
Notes to Editors:
Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd (formerly Rouse Kent Ltd) is a subsidiary of US-based Liberty Property Trust, a Real Estate Investment Trust, listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Liberty Property Trust (NYSE:LRY), headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, is a leader in commercial real estate, serving customers in the United States and the United Kingdom, through the development, acquisition, ownership and management of superior office and industrial properties. Liberty Property Trust owns and manages 650 properties totalling 77 million sq ft, accommodating 1,700 occupiers and has a market capitalisation of $6.5 billion.
Liberty Property Trust UK is developing Kings Hill - www.kings-hill.com - as a rapidly growing new community combining commercial, residential, educational, retail, community, sports and leisure uses within 800 acres of highly landscaped low density park land. The US inspired concept aims to promote quality of life and provide a unique environment in which people can live, work, play and study. In addition to providing accommodation for SME’s, Kings Hill also attracts significant international tenants such as Barclays, Rail Europe, Cabot Financial, Man Group and Kimberly-Clark.
Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd is also developing Didsbury Point business park in Manchester – www.didsburypoint.com, the Cambridge Biomedical Campus adjacent Addenbrooke’s Hospital – www.cambridgebiomedicalcampus.com and Blythe Valley Park in the West Midlands – www.blythevalleypark.com.
Liberty Property Trust UK and Kent County Council have formed a collaborative public/private sector “partnership” having entered into a Development Agreement to create an exemplar mixed-use community. Kings Hill is the County’s flagship development for attracting inward investment and promoting regional economic growth and it also seeks to deliver in all areas of existing and evolving Government policy priorities.