‘Boom town is living up to its title at long last’
FUTURE ARRIVES: Ashford is finally beginning to achieve its potential, according to developer
ASHFORD has finally arrived. That was the verdict from experts at MIPIM, the world’s biggest property and development expo in Cannes.
Long touted as a boom town, it seems the boom has begun to boom.
This year’s MIPIM was attended by around 25,000 delegates, including a handful from Kent and Medway.
Among them was Tristram Gethin, director of Quadrant Estates, the company behind the massive expansion of Eureka Business Park in Ashford on land owned by Trinity College Cambridge. Up to 10,000 jobs will be created in various offices being added to the huge site over the next few years. The 10-year scheme is worth about £350 million.
It will also include a neighbourhood centre, shops, pub, medical centre and a children’s nursery.
Mr Gethin said that inquiries for premises in Ashford had never been stronger.
“Ashford has finally arrived,” he said. “There are now cranes over the skyline of Ashford which can’t have happened for decades.”
The launch of high-speed domestic trains in 2009 would make the town even more attractive to business, he said, although the reduction of international services from November was a setback.
David Hill, chief executive of Ashford council, interrupted a family holiday to visit MIPIM.
He and Pam Alexander, chief executive of the South East England Development Agency, unveiled a £26,000 model - made by MC Modelmaking of Chatham Historic Dockyard - showing what the town centre will look like in a few years time.
It features several schemes including Elwick Road, Dover Road and Tannery Place and the new South Kent College Learning Campus.
Mr Hill said: “It is the end of the beginning. The next phase will be us going out to the mar- ket to try and attract significant private sector partner interest in moving forward some of these major sites in and around the town centre.
“I have lived in Ashford for over 30 years and it’s been a place that’s had a future but never quite made it. This time around, I’m really confident because financial resource has gone into shaping Ashford’s future.”
Judith Armitt, chief executive of the Thames Gateway, at MIPIM Property Expo, Cannes
Pam Alexander, chief executive SEEDA, with David Hill, chief executive of Ashford council, with Ashford town centre model at MIPIM Property Expo in Cannes