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Plans to improve the safety and appearance of the domestic railway station forecourt have been given the green light. The improvements will provide a safer and more direct route for pedestrians to the Commercial Quarter, the new Ashford College and through to the town centre. This will also reduce vehicle congestion and improve the general flow of vehicles around the area.
A new pedestrian crossing will be installed between the station and International House which will make crossing the road easier and safer, while the relocation of the taxi waiting facilities to the Stour Centre car park will provide 17 waiting spaces instead of the current eight.
The two-bay taxi rank, with covered shelter, will remain near the front of the domestic side of the station. People will continue to be picked up from the same point as they are now. These vital works will significantly improve the appearance, safety, accessibility and free flow of traffic around the station and should be completed by the end of September.
While the government ensures that we make provision for private-sector housing growth, over which we endeavour to exercise control of development numbers and siting, there is still a lack of affordable housing. Ashford has recently approved the provision of a further 190 affordable homes to be built between 2018 and 2024, on top of the 159 affordable homes that are being delivered in the 2015-2019 period.
In February 2016 Ashford was the first authority in the South East to be identified as being Housing Business Ready. Ashford has been awarded over £11 million of grant funding for affordable housing since 2011.
The council has increased the provision of affordable homes within its sheltered housing schemes. Farrow Court is a £17 million project that is truly dementiafriendly. Danemore in Tenterden is being upgraded, and will be dementia-friendly.
Cabinet members considered an annual report on the health of Ashford’s town centre. The report showed how far Ashford has come since 2012, when it successfully applied to be part of the Portas Pilot, when the vacancy rate was nearly 20%. It is now 8.8%, against a national average of 9.5%.
There is a clear strategy in place and change is evident. Of the £519 million investment in projects across the borough, it is estimated £360 million is being invested in Ashford town centre.