A MANUFACTURING site which has been in a north Kent town centre since 1889 could be transformed into a wharf-like residential complex, if plans are accepted.

Essential Land, who are due to submit plans to Dartford Council on the future of the GlaxoSmithKline site in Central Road, Temple Hill, want to create commercial units and 1000 new homes.

The mill, which originally opened under the name Burroughs Wellcome and Co, announced in November 2009 that it would be closing, resulting in the loss of around 620 jobs by 2013.

But the 400 consultees who have liased with planners through public exhibitions and a Facebook group since October last year have asked that the site be five or six storeys high, rather than the proposed nine.

Dartford residents also asked that parking on the ‘Millpond’ site be moved to the rear rather than installing podiums to create parking beneath the properties.

Martin Bellinger, partner at Essential Land, said: “We would like to thank everyone that has been involved in our consultation to date. We have taken what people have said on board and amended the design of the scheme.

News Shopper: An artist impression of the Millpond site

“Our sites are the first thing visitors see when arriving at Dartford’s train station so it’s even more important that we create something that local people can be proud of.”

The scheme is set to create between 80 and 150 jobs through 3000 square metres of commercial space, and 30 per cent of the properties will be affordable housing.

Essential Land’s consultation will remain open until the end of this month at dartfordgateway.com.

'We need more houses'

Retired print worker Leonard George Woodward was an apprentice at the site when it was still Burroughs Wellcome and Co, in 1953.

The 73-year-old, from Fulwich Road, Dartford, said: “I worked there for about 40 years on that exact site.

“The trouble is people want property. I know we need more houses, it's always been a problem."

Mr Woodward said he would not like the flats to be built too high, adding: “I reckon we’d be able to see them from here.”

Affordable housing welcome

Civil Servant Helen Sear, aged 35, said she welcomes the affordable housing provision proposed for the site.

Miss Sear, of Mount Pleasant Road, Dartford, said: “If there’s affordable housing that’s a good idea, because otherwise who’s going to have the money to buy them?”

Miss Sears said the closure of the plant will affect Dartford. She added: “It’s indicative of what’s happening and the fact that there’s a lot of businesses shutting. It’s not looking good for the future.”

'We have enough housing'

Thirty-year-old Andrew McInnes, also of Mount Pleasant Road, was not aware of any plans to change the current site.

The self-employed salesman said: “It doesn’t sound like a good thing. I would have thought we’ve got enough housing in Dartford.”

Mr McInnes said he would not like the complex to be too big, as a recent extension to the YMCA centre behind had already affected the sunlight in his south-facing house.

Traffic problems

Grandparents-of-nine Lawrence and Marion Ellis have lived in a house directly across from the site since 1953, and worry the site would bring more traffic.

Eighty-six-year-old Mrs Ellis, of St Vincent Villas, said: “At the moment traffic here is absolutely wicked - you can’t believe it at rush hour.”

Father-of-three-Mr Ellis, aged 89, added: “I don’t think we need any more housing in Dartford. When something goes wrong on the M25 the traffic comes straight through Dartford.”