‘Boom town is liv­ing up to its ti­tle at long last’

FU­TURE AR­RIVES: Ash­ford is fi­nally be­gin­ning to achieve its po­ten­tial, ac­cord­ing to de­vel­oper

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - RECRUITMENT & BUSINESS - by Trevor Sturgess

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.

Un­veiled

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.”

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Ju­dith Ar­mitt, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Thames Gate­way, at MIPIM Prop­erty Expo, Cannes

Pic­ture: Trevor Sturgess pd1170760 Buy this pic­ture from ken­ton­line.co.uk

Pam Alexan­der, chief ex­ec­u­tive SEEDA, with David Hill, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ash­ford coun­cil, with Ash­ford town cen­tre model at MIPIM Prop­erty Expo in Cannes

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