Dame Kelly Holmes defends plans to open Hildenborough cafe

Proposed site for cafe
Image caption Dame Kelly Holmes hopes her cafe will be used by customers in the village

Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes is facing opposition to her plans to open a cafe in the Kent village where she grew up.

She has put in an application to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to redevelop a former newsagent's shop in Tonbridge Road, Hildenborough.

Some residents have said parking will be an issue as it is on a main road.

Dame Kelly said she would encourage people to use alternative means of transport wherever possible.

'Fans camped outside'

In a letter to the council supporting her application, she said she envisaged a lot of her customers would be people already living in the village, and she would be encouraging people to walk, cycle or use buses "in keeping with my profile as a member of the community who values an active lifestyle".

The cafe would be able to serve up to 80 people inside, with an additional 30 seats outside, and would be open every day, with late opening on Thursdays and Fridays until 22:00.

Dame Kelly said while accepting her name would result in initial interest in the cafe, she said: "I certainly do not envisage in any way, shape or form large numbers of 'fans' camped outside or indeed any paparazzi.

Image caption Kelly Holmes won both the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics

"To this end, I therefore dispute that a cafe owned by me will cause any more danger on the adjacent road."

Her application has the support of the local parish council, which believes the development will enhance the village.

Vice-chairman Colmar Lewis said: "I think it's a good thing.

"The building is currently run down, looking very shabby, [and] there is no real provision for tea or coffee in the village at the moment."

The application is due to be discussed by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council on 24 October.

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