Restaurants…welcome to boom town
Twenty-one new homes will be created on the first, second and third floors.
The planning committee is expected to make a decision in March. Work continues to create a new £16 million modern campus, to be called Ashford International College, on the corner of Station Road and Elwick Road.
Contractors from Bam Construction are working on the site, following the demolition of Kent Care House and Swanton House.
The new college will cater for more than 700 students learning skills in the manufacturing, construction and service sectors, and will include a teaching block, dining hall, laboratories, a hair and beauty salon, and an art and media studio.
Once complete, it will be run by Hadlow College Group, which also runs Hadlow College and West Kent College.
It is hoped students and staff will move into the building in 2017.
The current college, in Jemmett Road, South Ashford, is then expected to be demolished and replaced with housing. Hundreds of new jobs are expected to be created when Ashford’s new commercial quarter is complete.
It is hoped the business development, earmarked for land in Dover Place and Station Road, will ensure future economic growth.
To kick-start the development, Ashford Borough Council purchased International House in 2014, and work has already started to improve the land surrounding it, including the Dover Place car park.
Last month, developer Quinn Estates, in partnership with George Wilson Holdings, revealed plans for a new fivefloor office block, along Station Road between the Platform 5 bar and Everest Inn restaurant.
As well as providing a base for new business, the ground floor of the square building will provide space for retail or a new food outlet.
When complete, the land surrounding the commercial quarter will be transformed into a public area, and will include new trees, paving, lighting, steps and artwork. Around 150 homes are also proposed.
The proposals for the office block are subject to a planning application, which is expected in the next few weeks. A new brewery and visitor centre is proposed for an empty 1.7 acre site on the north side of Victoria Way, on the corner closest to the railway station.
It is being proposed by winemaker Chapel Down, based in Tenterden, which last year launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the new factory.
With the £1 million target reached, it is anticipated that a planning application for the scheme will come this year.
Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson said last year: “We have found a sensational site in Ashford for the new Curious Brewery.
“We want the world to see us and this site – just 38 minutes from St Pancras and less than two hours away from Paris by train.” Only last week, developer U+I revealed plans for the site on the corner of Victoria Way, cushioned between Beaver Road and George Street, facing the proposed new brewery.
The scheme includes plans for 200 homes, a 120-bed hotel and an Aldi food store.
The land is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), but U+I says it has exchanged contracts with the HCA subject to planning permission to acquire the site.
It is not the first time the empty land, which sits between Watling Tyres and the petrol station, has been earmarked for development.
In November 2013, Morrisons revealed it was planning to open a new store there.
However, despite holding a public consultation and receiving positive feedback, six months later the chain scrapped its plans. An extra 100,000sq ft, 38 new shops and six restaurants and cafes will be added to the Ashford Designer Outlet when it is expanded.
The multi-million pound plans were given the greenlight in September 2015 and work is expected to start within weeks.
It will see the popular shopping centre almost double in size, filling part of the existing car park and the coach drop-off point.
The children’s play area will be relocated, an extra 700 car spaces will be created south of the existing outlet and a visitor centre built.
About 500 jobs are set to be created.
To prevent taking custom away from Ashford town centre, council planners have placed restrictions on which shops and restaurants can move into the centre.
Approved shops include Gucci, Dior, Barbour, Coast, Hollister and White Stuff, while banned restaurants include Wetherspoon’s, Prezzo, Cafe Rouge, TGI Fridays and Nando’s.
The expansion is then set to open in 2018.
There are also plans for another extension, in the overflow car park in Newtown Road, as well as on a small piece of land next to the car park.
It is not known when an application for this part of the development will be submitted.
International House was bought by the council to kickstart the new commercial quarter