Coun­cil Talk

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View - By Gerry Clark­son, leader of Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil

The Con­ning­brook Lakes Coun­try Park open day was a suc­cess, with nearly 2,000 peo­ple of all ages at­tend­ing. We had more than 1,000 peo­ple take part in the var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. I was pleased to un­veil a plaque record­ing that a Black Po­plar tree had been planted in the coun­try park to mark the 800th an­niver­sary of the seal­ing of the Magna Carta.

The coun­cil has agreed to work with lo­cal de­vel­op­ers, Quinn Es­tates Ltd and Ge­orge Wil­son Hold­ings Ltd, to bring for­ward the plans we have for the Ash­ford Com­mer­cial Quar­ter.

These are de­vel­op­ers with a strong track record for de­liv­er­ing qual­ity build­ings on sched­ule.

The com­mer­cial quar­ter is a mixed use de­vel­op­ment in a key lo­ca­tion op­po­site Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Sta­tion. It will be the dy­namic new main busi­ness hub, stim­u­lat­ing ma­jor in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­at­ing sev­eral hun­dred jobs in the town.

The coun­cil pur­chased In­ter­na­tional House last year, and work on a new public realm around In­ter­na­tional House and Dover Place is pro­gress­ing well with com­ple­tion due soon.

This will cre­ate a sense of place, form­ing an at­trac­tive first im­pres­sion of the town and a de­light­ful ap­proach from Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Sta­tion.

We warmly welcome Kent and Med­way’s in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agency, Lo­cate in Kent, to Ash­ford. They have re­cently re­lo­cated to In­ter­na­tional House, and this fol­lows Han­dles­banken’s move in April. It would ap­pear that Lo­cate in Kent has acted on its own 2014 per­cep­tion sur­vey, which named Ash­ford as Kent’s No 1 busi­ness lo­ca­tion.

By the time you read this ar­ti­cle the plan­ning com­mit­tee will have con­sid­ered the pro­posed ex­pan­sion of the De­signer Out­let Cen­tre. In ad­di­tion, plans for a new town cen­tre cin­ema, ho­tel and restau­rants at El­wick Place have been for­mally sub­mit­ted.

These large-scale de­vel­op­ments are part of our Big 8 pri­or­ity projects, and em­pha­sise the coun­cil’s am­bi­tion for the town, il­lus­trat­ing how we will un­lock ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties and de­liver new jobs, hous­ing, re­tail and cul­tural fa­cil­i­ties.

The mes­sage from this coun­cil to the busi­ness com­mu­nity is very clear - Ash­ford is go­ing places.

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