New de­vel­op­ment would bring su­per­mar­ket, of­fices and jobs

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Sam Wil­liams

Hun­dreds of new jobs could be cre­ated in Ash­ford if plans for a new of­fice block – with a su­per­mar­ket on the ground floor – are ap­proved.

Artist im­pres­sions of the pro­posed five-floored build­ing have been un­veiled by de­vel­op­ers Quinn Es­tates.

Work­ing with Ge­orge Wil­son Hold­ings, they plan is to con­struct it along Sta­tion Road, cush­ioned be­tween the Plat­form 5 bar and Everest Inn restau­rant.

The new build will be part of the emerg­ing com­mer­cial quar­ter – the town’s new busi­ness de­vel­op­ment de­signed to en­sure fu­ture eco­nomic growth and spread over 590,000 sq ft.

While of­fice space will fill the up­per floors, the ground floor has been ear­marked for retail space or a new food out­let.

Dan Mars­den, from Quinn Es­tates, based in Can­ter­bury, said the lo­ca­tion is at­trac­tive due to the “prox­im­ity to the sta­tion” and the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let, which is set to al­most dou­ble in size this year.

He said: “Close prox­im­ity to McArthurGlen and the In­terna- tional train sta­tion make this a fan­tas­tic lo­ca­tion for lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses to base them­selves.

“Nearby McArthurGlen cur­rently brings in more than three mil­lion vis­i­tors per year; with the new ex­ten­sion this is es­ti­mated to in­crease to circa seven mil­lion plus vis­i­tors per year.”

He added the driv­ing force be­hind the pro­ject is to cre­ate more jobs, adding that the site would bring “ma­jor in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate sev­eral thou­sand jobs”.

While it is not con­firmed who might move into the build­ing, Mr Mars­den said: “We are talk­ing to sev­eral peo­ple at the mo­ment” and hinted the ground floor could be oc­cu­pied by a new su­per­mar­ket. He added that it is an “ex­cit­ing” time for Ash­ford.

Work to cre­ate the com­mer­cial quar­ter in Ash­ford started last year fol­low­ing Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil’s pur­chase of In­ter­na­tional House. Im­prove­ments have al­ready been made to the land be­tween Dover Place and Sta­tion Road, in­clud­ing the car park in Dover Place.

When com­plete, the land sur­round­ing In­ter­na­tional House – and the pro­posed new of­fice block – will be trans­formed into a pub­lic area, and will in­clude new trees, paving, light­ing, steps and art­work. Around 150 homes are also pro­posed.

The coun­cil hope that by im­prov­ing the land­scape and look of the area, de­vel­op­ers and busi­nesses will be en­cour­aged to in­vest.

The pro­pos­als for the of­fice block are sub­ject to a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion, which is ex­pected in the next few weeks. If ap­proved, con­struc­tion could start in late spring or early sum­mer, with an es­ti­mated 18-month build.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­

“An­other half empty of­fice block to hang ‘Of­fice Space Avail­able’ ban­ners all over it.”

“Use what the town al­ready have sit­ting there, empty & un­used. A town with cur­rent build­ings be­ing used is bet­ter than hav­ing new ones pop­ping up half used. Moan we have empty shops and other places yet won’t sim­ply fill them but would build new build­ing…”

Quinn Es­tates de­vel­op­ment man­ager, Dan Mars­den, right, and an im­age of the pro­posed new of­fice block planned for Ash­ford

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