New su­per­mar­ket will open this year

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

WAITROSE has con­firmed its com­mit­ment to open­ing a su­per­mar­ket in Ash­ford later this year, cre­at­ing 140 jobs. The store is be­ing built as part of the Rep­ton Park de­vel­op­ment, near the Drovers Round­about. Waitrose di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment Nigel Keen said: “We wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in de­vel­op­ment of an im­por­tant part of Ash­ford. “The store will be part of a new lo­cal cen­tre for Rep­ton Park, as well as serv­ing the wider Ash­ford area, pro­vid­ing a strong re­tail an­chor at the heart of the com­mu­nity. “Waitrose places great value on be­com­ing part of a town’s fab­ric and we have worked hard with the de­vel­oper to en­sure this scheme is one that best meets the needs of Ash­ford and the sur­round­ing area.” Busi­ness and coun­cil leaders say Waitrose’s de­ci­sion shows that con­fi­dence in Ash­ford re­mains high de­spite the re­ces­sion and keeps the town’s am­bi­tious growth plans firmly on track. It fol­lows the re­cent open­ing by Premier Inn of a 74-bed ho­tel on the ex­pand­ing Eureka Busi­ness Park, where pri­vate de­vel­oper Quad­rant Es­tates has also just gained plan­ning ap­proval for four new of­fice build­ings. Jo James, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Kent In­victa Cham­ber of Com­merce, says such is the mo­men­tum of Ash­ford’s de­vel­op­ment that it would take “ex­tremely se­vere cir­cum­stances” to have an ad­verse ef­fect. She said: “Ash­ford is ex­tremely well placed to weather the re­ces­sion and will prob­a­bly main­tain a healthy trad­ing cli­mate, de­spite prob­lems aris­ing. “Ash­ford has so much go­ing for it that I can­not be­lieve things will grind to a halt. The area is in the mid­dle of a mas­sive ex­pan­sion which was in­spired by the qual­ity of road and rail com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the rest of the UK and with the Con­ti­nent, and th­ese are about to be boosted by the do­mes­tic high-speed rail link to Lon­don. “While we should not be overop­ti­mistic, and may suf­fer some slow­down in the fu­ture, I think we can be con­fi­dent that the cir­cum­stances which have con­trib­uted to the town’s re­cent ac­tiv­ity are bound to re­main in place and con­tinue to boost trad­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Busi­nesses in the Ash­ford area have al­ready shown that they have the en­trepreneur­ship and abil­ity to take ad­van­tage of any op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered.” Ac­cord­ing to the in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agency Lo­cate in Kent, more than 1,000 jobs were cre­ated in Ash­ford in 2008 across a num­ber of sec­tors. Th­ese in­cluded re­tail, construction and prop­erty, busi­ness ser­vices, leisure and tourism, en­gi­neer­ing, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and ICT.

A new Waitrose su­per­mar­ket is planned for Ash­ford

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