Kent: Chicago Rock Cafe in Maidstone occupied

Welfare workers have been liaising with squatters who have moved into a now defunct nightclub in the centre of Maidstone.

The group of rough sleepers now occupy the former Chicago Rock Cafe in the lower High Street, although it doesn’t look as if anyone’s living there from the street.

Maidstone Borough Council confirmed it had been working with the squatters as part of its project to support the town’s street population.

The authority has been helping them find housing and access to other services.

A council spokesman said: “Will Myers, the council’s housing options outreach officer, has been actively engaging with rough sleepers, working alongside members of the Maidstone Assertive Outreach Team to make sure that they are aware of the support options available to them.”

The once popular venue has been closed for almost two years after its owners went into administration.

It recently came fourth in a KM poll to identify the town’s ugliest buildings.

It is not the first time disused buildings in the town centre have been taken over by squatters. In April last year the former Maidstone Library, in St Faiths Street, was inhabited for three weeks.

It had closed to the public a year earlier but the new tenants found running water and electricity was still available.

They became so settled they started growing vegetables on the windowsills and remained on site despite being warned that the building’s structure contained asbestos.

Immediately after their eviction they moved into the former NatWest Bank in Bank Street.

At the time, construction work to transform it into The Brenchley pub was weeks away but the group of 10 to 15 people remained on site for a fortnight.

They were kicked out at the beginning of May and since then there had been no reports of the group returning.

Source – Kent Online