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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 13:48 GMT
Club given permission to go home
Maidstone's former home ground, London Road
Maidstone United left their last ground in the town in the 1980s
Non-league football club Maidstone United has been given permission to build a stadium in its home town.

The club left Maidstone in 1988 when it had to sell its old London Road ground and has not played in the town since.

During that time the Stones won promotion to the Football League, dropped out of it, went out of business and reformed, as a new company.

The team has played in Dartford and Sittingbourne but planning permission for a new ground was given on Thursday.

'Finance in place'

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the scheme and the club plans to have the new ground open by August 2006.

Maidstone United was one of the biggest clubs in non-league football in the 1980s, finally winning promotion from the conference to the old Division Four in 1989.

By then the team played in Dartford, having left its former home at London Road in the 1987-88 season.

Lower attendances stemming from fans not wanting to travel for home games played a part in the club going out of business in 1992.

Maidstone's former home ground London Road
The club went out of business within five years of leaving Maidstone
The reformed club, first called Maidstone Invicta and then Maidstone United, has worked its way up through county leagues and currently uses a ground in Sittingbourne.

On Thursday night Maidstone Borough Council granted the club permission to build a 3,000-seater stadium at James Whatman Way in the town centre, which will cost about 500,000.

Club chairman Paul Bowden-Brown said some legal work still remained and the club had to complete the purchase of one bank of land where a stand will go.

But he said: "The finance was in place six months ago.

"The council and I have had some ups and downs but I believe we've gone through everything now, we've answered every query from greater crested newts to archaeological digs.

"Yesterday's meeting proved that everybody withdrew their objections and said 'go ahead we're looking forward to seeing you come home'."

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