Char­ter House plan waits for an up­turn

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Sam Len­non slen­non@thek­m­group.co.uk

CHAR­TER House is about to en­ter 2010 with an un­cer­tain fu­ture.

Plans to con­vert the iconic Ash­ford build­ing stalled be­cause of the re­ces­sion and now its own­ers are mark­ing time by of­fer­ing short-term of­fice space and cheap park­ing.

Through­out this au­tumn and win­ter huge ban­ner signs have been put up say­ing “cheap offices to let.”

An ear­lier sign had also said: “cheapest town cen­tre park­ing” of­fer­ing a rate of £35 a month.

De­vel­op­ers Duke­lease Prop­er­ties had in Novem­ber 2008 se­cured plan­ning per­mis­sion from Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil to cre­ate 334 flats on the site.

It had hoped to start the con­ver­sion last June but the plan was put off un­til au­tumn 2009 be­cause of the state of the prop­erty mar­ket.

The com­pany said it did not want to com­ment on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion but told the Kent- ish Ex­press last May that there was a lack of credit avail­able and a prob­lem in sell­ing flats.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Les­lie said peo­ple could not get a mort­gage, were not con­fi­dent about get­ting a good deal and were wor­ried about their jobs.

The com­pany hopes the sit­u­a­tion will im­prove fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the full high­speed rail ser­vice from Ash­ford to St Pan­cras.

It is bank­ing on Char­ter House be­ing used for short-term of­fice space in the mean­time.

PD1641562

Char­ter House, which has yet to be con­verted

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