Hotel and shops might replace the bus depot in St John’s Road

Islay O'Hara

The gentrification of St John’s Road looks set to continue unabated after Arriva put its bus depot on the market.

With a total area of 4,376 sq m (47,114 sq ft) the site has been placed on the market for an undisclosed sum, and commercial estate agent Durlings confirmed a lease-back deal will be in place.

Durlings said the deal, which would involve the purchaser leasing the property back to Arriva once the sale has been completed, is likely to last for 18 months, with flexibility for an extension.

News of the depot’s sale comes after developers won approval to redevelop the Dairy Crest plot in December, despite opposition from neighbours and the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society.

The smaller site, 480 metres away and also on St John’s Road, sold for £2.8 million last March and is due to be turned into a residential development of 58 modern homes.

Neighbour Lisa de Garston described the site as ‘no longer fit for purpose.’

She said on Facebook: “Knowing the engineers and drivers quite well, there are several health and safety issues, it leaks like an old sieve and the air quality for residents is affected by the running of diesel engines.”

Rupert Farrant of Durlings said residential development was the ‘obvious route’ which could include retirement housing.

But he added a mixed use scheme with retail, hotel and leisure facilities should not be ‘ruled out’.

Mr Farrant said: “Our brief is to seek both conditional and unconditional offers and then consider each proposal on its merits.

“We are confident that with sympathetic design and a positive use of a brownfield site that the resultant development will greatly enhance this part of St Johns Road and contribute to the varying styles of architecture and uses.

“House building and the requirement for a greater number of homes remains high up on the Government’s agenda, with local authorities keen to balance this with employment-generating uses.

“Let’s hope that the nominated developer can tick both boxes.”

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