Town tops charts in pop­u­la­tion boom

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­

ASH­FORD’S pop­u­la­tion boom­ing.

New fig­ures out this week re­veal that the bor­ough recorded the big­gest pop­u­la­tion rise in the South East over the past decade.

The bor­ough coun­cil says that the ris­ing num­ber of res­i­dents is a clear in­di­ca­tion that Ash­ford is well on its way to re­al­is­ing am­bi­tious growth plans.

Ju­dith Ar­mitt, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture, which is tasked with de­liv­er­ing Ash­ford’s growth agenda, says that the lat­est pop­u­la­tion statis­tics re­leased by Hal­i­fax Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices re­flect the town’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity as a place to live and work.

Fig­ures show that among lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the South East, Ash­ford saw the largest pop­u­la­tion in­crease in the decade to 2007, with the num­ber of res­i­dents go­ing up 15 per cent to 112,500.

Eco­nomic growth

Mrs Ar­mitt said: “A grow­ing num­ber of skilled jobs, topqual­ity hous­ing and the prospect of high-speed do­mes­tic rail ser­vices launch­ing in 2009, which will cut jour­ney times from Ash­ford to the cap­i­tal to just 37 min­utes, are mak­ing Ash­ford an in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive place to be.

“Thanks to a care­fully man­aged de­vel­op­ment strat­egy, Ash­ford con­tin­ues to en­joy sus­tained eco­nomic growth, de­spite the cur­rent eco­nomic down­turn.

“Ma­jor in­vest­ment is be­ing ploughed into health and ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties, re­tail, im­proved trans­port in­fra­struc­ture and jobs to meet the needs of a ris­ing pop­u­la­tion.

“All this is help­ing to foster a con­fi­dent, vi­brant town of­fer­ing a high stan­dard of liv­ing for its res­i­dents.”

Ash­ford is pur­su­ing an am­bi­tious £2.5bn de­vel­op­ment strat- egy, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of 28,000 jobs, the build­ing of 31,000 homes and the cre­ation of 2 mil­lion square feet of com­mer­cial space, she added.

The town is ex­pected to dou­ble in size by 2031 with an es­ti­mated £1 bil­lion of in­vest­ment al­ready se­cured.

Fu­ture projects in­clude fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the Eureka Busi­ness Park and the cre­ation of the new Junc­tion 10a on the M20 that is planned to release more sites for de­vel­op­ment.

Mrs Ar­mitt said: “Ash­ford of­fers ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a thriv­ing and ex­pand­ing town.

“We are firmly on course to reap the re­wards of be­ing best placed in Bri­tain.”

More peo­ple are mov­ing to Ash­ford than any­where else in the South East

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