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The Dirty Habit PH Road Closure – an update from Cllr Mrs Shellina Prendergast, KCC

Shellina Prendergast

KCC Member – Maidstone Rural East

1st December 2022

Dear Residents,

Dirty Habit Hollingbourne Road Closure Update

As you are all too aware, Upper Street, Hollingbourne is closed for safety reasons following the fire that caused severe structural damage at the Dirty Habit public house.  I appreciate the inconvenience – and share the frustration – this is causing to so many, and I thought a further update would be helpful.

First, it has to be noted that the decision to keep the road closed is following direction received by the Maidstone Borough Council Heritage Conservation team who initially advised that they are “working with the owners to ensure that the existing Grade 11 listed building is protected to allow for future restoration and reopening of this historic buildingDue to the Grade II listed status, we need to take a sensitive approach to ensure that we protect both the remaining structure and the neighbouring listed building. As many people are aware, to undertake works to a listed building, works need to be authorised by the Local Planning Authority under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990”.

Following that initial advice from MBC Conservation Officer, I have today received the following update:

“To enable us to reduce the scaffold to reopen the road, we need to have a special piece of access equipment to carefully take down a section of the building that is still at risk of collapse.  The access equipment is booked for the 6 December, which is the earliest date it is available.

I am awaiting confirmation of the programme, but we are working towards a mid/ end of December to clear the scaffold to allow the road to be open again.  This is provisional as we need to ensure that the building is no longer at risk of collapse to protect the safety of the public and the operatives.

Cllr’s Prendergast & Garten have been informed of our meeting with Highways, Building Control, and the Project Surveyor on Tuesday, but we are just waiting the final confirmation of the programme.  I can ensure you that we are doing everything we can to have the road reopened as soon as possible, but we do have additional constraints such as forensic investigation and the Loss Adjuster”.

Regarding the signed diversion route – Hollingbourne Hill, Swanton Street, Primrose Lane, Bredgar Road, Hearts Delight Road, Wrens Road, Sutton Baron Road, Oad Street, A249 Sittingbourne Road, Bearsted Road, New Cut Road, A20 Ashford Road, Eyhorne Street and vice versa – Kent Highways acknowledge that this is a lengthy diversion but it is considered to be the safest route available when considering the types of vehicles that need to be diverted.  There are other shorter routes but use of these is discouraged as they are considered to be highly unsuitable.  Kent County Council have therefore instructed the contractors carrying out the works to place prominent signage on the road network to assist road users to reach their destination with minimal disruption to them and residents by avoiding the use of these unsuitable roads where possible.

I – and Kent Highways Officers – appreciate that this closure has impacted journeys and the ability of residents to go about their daily lives but in following the requirements of Maidstone Borough Council’s Conservation team there is no alternative.  We also understand that the timing of the works is not helpful due to the National Highways works taking place at the M2 junction 5 Stockbury which has resulted in additional traffic using the road through Hollingbourne as an alternative route.  These works and the impacts would have been a key consideration in a planned scenario, but it was impossible to foresee the pub fire and the damage it caused.

Whilst there is no official date for the reopening of the road, KCC Officers will continue to work collaboratively with MBC and the contractor about other works that may be needed at this location that will lessen future disruption on this road after it has reopened.  Kent Highways will, however, only take this step once it is considered safe to do so.

Some residents have also been in touch regarding arrangements in the event of bad winter weather.  Officers assure me that the protocol is that when a designated gritting route is closed, the gritter is automatically diverted to the published and signed diversion route.  Please be assured that Kent County Council will ensure that this process is followed for the Upper Street closure should it still be in place during severe weather conditions.

To reiterate, the works are under the complete control of the Maidstone Borough Council Conservation Officer and Kent Highways are awaiting confirmation on how these works should be carried out.  I will, of course, ensure you are updated as soon as KCC receives any further updates and a confirmation of the programme from MBC.

If you do have any questions regarding these works, please contact the contractors using the number supplied – 01622 589546 or by email on .  If it is a query regarding Maidstone Borough Council’s restoration requirements, please contact them via their website

As a resident of a nearby rural parish, I know just how difficult these types of closures can be for everyone and would like to thank you all again for your patience and to reassure everyone that every effort is being made to ensure that the works are progressed in a safe and expedient manner so that the road can be fully opened as soon as possible.

Finally, my apologies for the length of this note but I wanted to ensure that you were fully apprised of all the information that Kent County Council currently holds on this closure and the associated works.

Kind regards

Shellina Prendergast

Maidstone Rural East