New Ashford project to ‘transform’ town

Exciting and ambitious plans have been announced in Ashford to expand the town centre into a more vibrant and attractive location, transforming part of the town’s High Street.

Proposals were approved by the council on Tuesday to develop the site of the former Mecca Bingo hall, with the scheme labelled as part of a wider town centre regeneration strategy.

Council Leader Gerry Clarkson welcomed the plans, describing them as a pivotal part of the town centre’s transformation.

He said: “Having taken expert advice on our options for developing this prominent site we now have a clear vision for the way ahead. Of course we have been well aware that there is a good deal of public support for a theatre and as I have said previously, we are open to that suggestion.

“I believe that with Ashford and surrounding areas growing, our catchment may be becoming large enough to sustain a theatre, and work is underway to identify a suitable location.”

The project is set to completely revamp the High Street

The scheme aims to add more investment to the town, as well as creating more jobs and increasing the number of visitors.

Once completed, food and beverage outlets will be added as part of both indoor and outdoor event and performance spaces, as will a multi-storey car park behind the Hollywood Bowl on Station Road.

Councillor Neil Shorter, portfolio holder for finance, said: “This project will transform not only the lower high street but the wider town centre. By bringing residential and small scale commercial opportunities into this area, a lively sub culture will be created providing a destination for visitors and locals alike.

“By retaining control of the design of the project due to its delivery model, not only will residents benefit from the financial return, profit will not outweigh the design and social benefits to be enjoyed by the town.”

A theatre is also still on the cards
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