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As has been reported recently the town’s transformation is now gathering momentum with not one or two but a handful of significant projects moving forward at a pace. Ashford’s Commercial Quarter, which is set to become an important business location not only for Ashford but for the South East, will see the first new office block started in the next few months, with a number of others likely to come forward thereafter. The Quarter is just behind International House, opposite Ashford International Station, and will include office space and parking.
I am pleased to see so many projects, which have been talked about for some time, now getting under way and know this is what makes people sit up and take notice. We can get engrossed in delivering these new projects, but there is also a real need to ensure other important matters also receive our serious attention.
One such matter is healthcare in our area and it is imperative we ensure A&E provision at the William Harvey Hospital is not only kept here, but is developed and improved. Our National Health Service, which is often under so much pressure, needs to be nurtured and cherished.
I am also pleased to welcome a £30 million private hospital offering state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, which opens in Ashford on February 18. More than 90 jobs have been created at One Ashford Hospital, located next to the William Harvey. This new hospital will have 10 consulting rooms, four operating theatres, four treatment rooms and an MRI imaging suite.
We are also conscious of the increased level and frequency of flooding, that has affected many areas across the UK. Our planning policy approach to new development addresses the need for effective and sustainable surface drainage arrangements. This has been most effective and for many years now new housing developments have been largely unaffected by serious flooding. We will continue to review these policies and be making even more allowances for the effective handling of increased frequency and level of rainfall.
Other important matters such as affordable housing, superfast broadband for the entire borough, HGV parking in inappropriate locations, protection of our countryside and enforcement against unregulated and unlawful development are just some of the challenges we have to address and about which I will comment further in the coming months.
So there is significant development and investment coming forward, but with much work to be done. Let’s work together to keep that momentum.