New-look mall pulling in the pun­ters

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Mp Calls In On Revamped Shopping Centre - By Sam Wil­liams

More peo­ple have vis­ited Ash­ford’s Park Mall shop­ping cen­tre since it was taken over by the coun­cil.

Foot­fall fig­ures show that there was a 6.8% in­crease in Jan­uary com­pared to last year.

In ad­di­tion, Wilkos says an ex­tra 500 cus­tomers are pass­ing through its tills each week.

To high­light the im­prove­ments made to the ar­cade, Ash­ford MP Damian Green met with Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil’s port­fo­lio holder for town cen­tres, Cllr Gra­ham Galpin, and its re­gen­er­a­tion man­ager Jo Wynn-Carter at the mall on Fri­day.

He was given a tour of the cen­tre, and met with the new traders.

Mr Green said: “It’s re­ally heart­en­ing that you can be­gin to feel the lifeblood cours­ing through Park Mall again.

“It went down­hill for a num­ber of years, but it’s now on the road back, and you can see it.

“There are more peo­ple here, more shops open­ing.”

Mr Green de­scribed the re­cently opened Made in Ash­ford bou­tique as “fan­tas­tic” and said “it gives a brand and iden­tify to the lo­cal area”.

He added: “It’s early days, but it is en­cour­ag­ing.”

The work to re­vi­talise the ail­ing Park Mall precinct started in 2015 when it was pur­chased by the coun­cil.

Since then it has im­proved the look and feel of the cen­tre – the clock has been fixed, benches painted, hang­ing bas­kets in­stalled and mu­sic now plays.

A num­ber of in­de­pen­dent shops have also opened, such as Em­po­ria Fab­ric and Craft, Happy and Glo­ri­ous, GlamR-Us, PJ Pro­duce and the 10 start-ups who oc­cupy Made in Ash­ford.

Cre­ative com­pany Re­cur­sive Me­dia has also moved from Brighton to a unit within Park Mall, and sev­eral traders have ap­proached the coun­cil about re­new­ing their leases, in­clud­ing Blossom Hair and Games Work­shop.

Cllr Galpin said: “We are de­lighted with the in­ter­est in Park Mall and the pos­i­tive ef­fect that our ac­tions have had on the cen­tre as a whole.

“The num­ber of in­quiries we have re­ceived about the empty units il­lus­trates the con­fi­dence that ex­ists in the vi­a­bil­ity of the new Park Mall.”

In ad­di­tion, one-to-one so­cial me­dia sup­port ses­sions are be­ing of­fered by the Love Ash­ford team to new busi­ness own­ers.

They will be held at 23 Park Mall, Mon­day to Thurs­day, from 2pm-4pm.

You can ei­ther drop in or book an ap­point­ment by call­ing 01233 330216. For more in­for­ma­tion go to LoveAsh­ford.com

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MP Damian Green with, from left, Melissa Dawkins (Aye Aye Indigo), Gra­ham Galpin, Jo Wynn-Carter (coun­cil re­gen­er­a­tion man­ager), Leigha Wind­sor-Med­ley (Mini Med­ley) and Ju­dith Tosland (Ju Ju Art)

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Kate Jarvis at PJ Pro­duce

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Kate Tom­sett, of Happy and Glo­ri­ous

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