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Tue July 27 2021

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Plans in for £30m Rootes building makeover

15 Jul 20 Plans have been submitted to convert the old Rootes car factory and showrrom in the centre of Maidstone into flats.

The Rootes building in recent times, looking somewhat shabby and (below) what is planned
The Rootes building in recent times, looking somewhat shabby and (below) what is planned

The steel framed and reinforced concrete structure was built for Rootes in 1937-38 by Howard & Souster, architects who specialised in industrial and commercial buildings.

While the Rootes story has moved on, the Maidstone building had, until 2018, continued to house car dealerships, latterly Peugeot.

Now the owner of the building, Classicus Estates, has submitted plans to Maidstone Borough Council for a £30m renovation of the Grade II listed building, now known as Len House (it sits on the River Len).

Classicus Estates is owned by the Obee family, which also own the Motorline car dealership group.

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The plans, drawn up by architect Hollaway, show 3,612 m2 of commercial space and 159 flats, with a square off Mill Street to connect public space to the adjacent riverside. A commercial ground floor will include a proposed food emporium and parking. Plans also include a two-story extension to the roof, with the original Crittall windows and high interior spaces of the existing building being retained.

The refurbishment plan
The refurbishment plan

Matthew Brett-Chaponnel, director of Classicus Estates, said: “As we set out our plans for Len House, we first and foremost wanted to respect the heritage and setting of the site and immediate surrounding areas. Len House is an iconic modernist piece of architecture and our plans to redevelop will ensure its long-term sustainable future. The planning application aims to keep as much of the original property in place as possible, whilst enhancing and adding to the building with a new design and build which will complement Len House’s heritage, character and charm.

“We want to redefine this area of Maidstone for the public’s benefit and use, by creating an exceptional space for working and urban living, including the enhancement of the public realm surrounding Palace Avenue, which will contribute to making Maidstone a vibrant and exciting place to live and work.”

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