Ash­ford Out­let ex­pan­sion plans latest

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Sa­man­tha Wil­liams saw­illiams@thek­m­ @SamWil­liamsKM

An ap­pli­ca­tion to al­most dou­ble the size of the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let is ex­pected to be dis­cussed this month.

The am­bi­tions plans, which were first un­veiled in 2013, would see the pop­u­lar shop­ping cen­tre ex­pand to come within 500 me­tres of Ash­ford’s town cen­tre.

The multi-mil­lion pound pro­posal in­cludes de­mol­ish­ing part of the ex­ist­ing mall, where the coach drop-off point and food court are, to make room for ex­tra re­tail units, more restau­rants and a visi­tor cen­tre.

Other plans in­clude ex­tend­ing north and south of the cen­tre, re­con­fig­ur­ing the car park, im­prov­ing the links be­tween the shop­ping mall and the town and land­scap­ing works.

If ap­proved, the de­vel­op­ment will be de­liv­ered in two stages, with the ini­tial phase adding 30 shops to the 80 al­ready there.

The sec­ond part of the de­vel­op­ment would take place in the over­flow car park (car park D) in New­town Road, as well as on a small piece of land next to the car park.

In to­tal, an ex­tra 175,000 sq ft of re­tail space would be added to the ex­ist­ing 185,000 sq ft.

The ex­pan­sion would cre­ate an es­ti­mated 2,000 jobs.

The ap­pli­ca­tion for the mas­sive pro­ject was sub­mit­ted by agents Mon­tagu Evans LLP on be­half of the out­let’s own­ers, McArthur­Glen, at the end of last year, although it is yet to be dis­cussed by Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the July meet­ing of the Ash- ford Strate­gic De­liv­ery Board, which was only re­vealed last week, the ap­pli­ca­tion should “go for­ward to the Septem­ber plan­ning com­mit­tee with a rec­om­men­da­tion for ap­proval”.

The re­port states that the coun­cil has now re­ceived “the fi­nal set of amended plans for the De­signer Out­let ex­pan­sion”, which ap­pear “to have re­solved all of the is­sues iden­ti­fied with the pre­vi­ous set of plans”.

It adds that of­fi­cers from Ash- ford’s plan­ning team were in the “fi­nal stages” of agree­ing on the terms for the sec­tion 106 agree­ment with the ap­pli­cant, and that the pack­age would in­clude im­prov­ing the bus and walk­ing routes to and from the town cen­tre.

The agenda for Septem­ber’s plan­ning meet­ing is yet to be pub­lished, but it is sched­uled for Septem­ber 23.

Above and inset, an artist’s im­pres­sions shows how the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let could look

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