Can we spy green shoots of re­cov­ery?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Ashford Valley Hunt -

The past 12 months have seen big changes for the Ash­ford area, with even more on the hori­zon. It was a slightly de­press­ing start to the year. News that Block­buster, HMV, Jes­sops, Pizza Hut and Le­traset were all clos­ing their doors in Ash­ford made grim read­ing at the time. It would have been easy to be­come de­spon­dent, as the out­look for busi­nesses and res­i­dents seemed bleak. But as we en­ter a new year, the pic­ture cer­tainly ap­pears brighter. 2013 saw the much an­tic­i­pated ar­rival of John Lewis at Home, which seems to pull in shop­pers from far and wide. The re­de­vel­op­ment of Sev­ing­ton, while con­tro­ver­sial lo­cally, as well as planned takeovers of va­cant units should also boost the town’s eco­nomic land­scape. Much has also been made of the Big Six projects, so dubbed by the coun­cil, as a well as a new town cen­tre cin­ema, an­nounced last week. Al­ready un­der­way is The Panorama con­ver­sion of Char­ter House, which should be com­pleted in the com­ing year. Scores of new homes are also planned for sites across the town. Some will come as part of the early stages of the Com­mer­cial Quar­ter project near the rail­way sta­tion, while the rail­way works in New­town will also be re­de­vel­oped. Add to this a new Mor­risons su­per­mar­ket and per­haps we may be see­ing the ‘green shoots of re­cov­ery’ just start­ing to ap­pear. Only time will now tell how far th­ese shoots will spread.

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