Hot spot for business

Features Posted 10/04/18
Here at South East Business, we try to keep our finger on the economic pulse of the region. We begin today with the first of a series of focuses on areas under the development spotlight - first off, Ashford in Kent. We asked borough council leader, Gerry Clarkson, to sum up why the town is rising up the county 'business hot spot' league

Ashford’s economic success continues to grow, as our reputation as the number one business location in Kent builds.

It is not just the skyline of Ashford that is changing. Ashford Borough Council’s approach to stimulating investment has been a true game-changer for the public sector. Ashford is witnessing investment on an unprecedented scale – £669 million across the borough, of which £520 million is within the town centre. Several key projects, known as “The Big 8”, which are critical to the future economic growth and prosperity of the borough, are all progressing through the council’s intervention, impetus and innovation.

The council has developed the “AshfordFor” investment campaign where investors and business owners have come forward as storytellers, providing real-life success stories using peer-to-peer marketing to share key messages with target stakeholders.

The council is funding the construction of the 100,000 sq ft flagship town-centre leisure development at Elwick Place following an agreement reached with Stanhope plc. It includes a Picturehouse cinema, 58-bedroom Travelodge hotel and seven-restaurant complex.

To enable the first phase of development at the Commercial Quarter, an important business hub for the South East, the council has underwritten the cost of two floors of the new 80,000 sq ft office block, the first constructed in Ashford for decades.

The new £26 million Ashford College opened in September 2017 and came forward sooner than expected through £3 million of council grant funding. The campus will eventually see around 1,000 students per day come to Ashford instead of travelling outside the borough.

Europe’s leading owner, developer and manager of designer outlets, McArthurGlen, has begun work to add up to 50 new stores, including six restaurants and cafes, an increase of about 100,000 sq ft, to the Ashford Designer Outlet.

Work on the first phase of development has also begun at Chilmington Green, which will see 5,750 homes come forward over the next 25 years. Provision of a new motorway junction at J10a of the M20 is progressing with the long-awaited junction being a catalyst for economic and commercial development. A signalling upgrade to ensure that Ashford International station can receive the next generation Eurostar trains has recently been completed - securing Ashford’s status as an international town.

It is clear that a momentum is building in Ashford and we continue to create a positive narrative as we look to the future.

<a href=”http://www.southeastbusiness.com/assets/flipbook/2018/SEB0518/SEB05May18.html#p=30>Click here to read our full feature on Ashford

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