Study names Ashford ‘best business location in Kent’

Ashford Borough Council has announced a raft of new commercial and residential developments, and representatives from the town will be at the MIPIM UK property trade show 21–23 October 2015.

Source: Julian P Guffogg [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of property professionals attended the 2014 event, with Ashford's growing reputation as a thriving international town attracting strong interest from some of the world's most influential developers and investors.Since then the Kent town has been forging ahead with key development projects and has released news of major investment and business initiatives.Plans to reinvigorate the town centre are well under way. In the last few months, the council has acquired Park Mall shopping centre, which has 37 retail outlet units, and is breathing fresh life into the site, with new tenants already in the pipeline; Stanhope has unveiled its long-awaited £75 million cinema, hotel and restaurants scheme; and work has begun on a new £16 million state-of-the-art Ashford College campus, due for completion in spring 2017.Ashford Borough Council has also recently announced Quinn Estates Ltd and George Wilson Holdings Ltd as its chosen development partners for the multi-million-pound Commercial Quarter, a highly-anticipated prime office development scheme that's set to become Ashford's business hub. The Commercial Quarter has the potential to deliver up to 590,000 square feet of office space, thousands of jobs and around 150 homes.Plans for a 100,000 sq ft extension of Ashford Designer Outlet Centre, which will add nearly 40 new stores, six restaurants and cafes as well as creating up to an additional 700 jobs, have also just been given the go-ahead.The approved Chilmington Green development for 5,750 quality new homes – one of the largest housing developments in the county – is due to start on site in the coming years; while preliminary designs for J10a on the M20, which will speed up economic development south of the town, are to be unveiled shortly.A proposed International Model Railway Centre, which is supported by rock legend and model railway enthusiast Roger Daltrey and Sir Robert McAlpine, will soon be coming before the council's Planning Committee.Ashford also continues to attract big businesses – including Handelsbanken, one of Sweden's leading banks, and Locate in Kent, the county's investment promotion agency, which has just moved its headquarters to Ashford's International House.These developments follow hot on the heels of a study carried out by Locate in Kent last autumn which identified Ashford as the best business location in Kent. The report measured the attitudes of key business figures in the South East towards Kent as a business location, with Ashford coming out on top as the number one choice for developers, advisers and businesses.Two thirds rated Ashford highly for its rail links – the HS1 high-speed service to St Pancras takes just 38 minutes – while road links, proximity to Europe and London, location and available sites were all listed as positives.Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said, "Last year's MIPIM UK was an excellent platform for promoting the borough to a wider audience. Ashford really punched above its weight, holding its own among locations such as Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff and the City of London, with an impressive and engaging stand that attracted a constant stream of interest."This year the Ashford stand will be double the size and even more dynamic, with a meeting area and iPad docks loaded with development presentations so that potential investors and developers can see what opportunities are available to them."Award-winning Chapel Down Winery will also be on the stand to show the quality of their wines and beers and to promote Ashford's new wine trail as well as developers who have already invested in Ashford, to explain why they choose Ashford."We're looking forward to showcasing Ashford and offering an insight into how the town's exciting future is unfolding," adds Cllr Clarkson."Our message is stronger than ever: Ashford is really going places and now's the time to get involved. So come along to our stand and find out how you can be a part of the Ashford success story."Ashford Borough Council will be on stand E-21/F-20 at the event, which takes place on 21-23 October 2015 at Olympia in London.For more Re:locate news and features about UK regional development, click here

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