Work starts on Control Tower

Work has started on the iconic Art Deco style control tower at Kings Hill, which will see it restored to its formerglory 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 forshows 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.

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