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ashford briefing autumn 2010

www.ashfordbestplaced.co.uk

£2.5 billion investment > 2 million sq ft of commercial space > 37 minutes to London > 2 hours to Paris > 28,000 new jobs > 31,000 new homes

Government funding secure for 2011 Ashford has survived an uncertain summer for growth areas across the country by securing the full amount of government funding available for 2011. In a period of change across the country, the Department for Communities and Local Government released £4.2m Growth Area Funding (GAF) for 2010-2011 in August. This represents a huge boost for Ashford’s growth plans, and gives the green light to several new projects that will greatly benefit the local community, including the Arts at St Mary’s improvements. Cllr Paul Bartlett, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “At a time when cuts in public spending are reaching unprecedented levels, the new coalition Government has shown its confidence in Ashford’s growth programme. “This further investment will fund a range of improvement projects

Locate in Kent are assisting 60 companies who are currently considering Ashford for potential projects, while estate agents are reporting a steady flow of buyers coming into the area, attracted by its fast connections, great value homes and excellent quality of life. Local estate agents have reported a surge in enquiries and sales since the arrival of the 37 minute rail service to London.

Alex Davies, director at Ashford

“The fast train line, combined with access to excellent schools and the fact that prices still represent good value, makes Ashford a highly attractive package.”

Investments by 10 companies in 2009/10 are set to create 262 new

What The Papers Say

Ashford is now recognised as one of the fastest growing areas of England, and for

Cllr Paul Clokie, Chairman of the Ashford’s Future Partnership Board, said: “This announcement means over £54m is being invested in Ashford in the next year which will result in a better transport network and improved community facilities for our residents to enjoy and use for many years to come.” Ashford has received a total of £22.5m GAF funding between 2008 and 2011.

• Work starts on major infrastructure projects

based estate agents Hobbs Parker, said: “We’re seeing many more enquiries from people currently living in either central or north London, and more interest from the home counties.

The success of high speed trains to London and the continent is also proving beneficial to the area’s businesses, with firms using the service on a regular basis and saving much-needed time and money.

The announcement follows other recent successful government funding bids including £16.5m Community Infrastructure Funding for Victoria Way and £15.1m Regional Infrastructure Funding for improvements to Junction 9 and nearby Drovers Roundabout including a landmark footbridge over the M20.

Inside

Fast rail brings economic boom to Ashford Nearly one year on from its launch, high-speed domestic rail services are lifting house sales, attracting new investors, and boosting businesses in Ashford.

in the town to make Ashford a better place to live and work for our residents.”

• Ashford shines in’ perception survey jobs within three years - the highest number of all Kent districts. New additions to Ashford’s business community include New World Netcom and Sagittarius Marketing, and both firms cited the high-speed rail services to London and Europe as the main deciding factor for the move. buyers and renters it offers an irresistible combination of a pleasant market town with good connections to London and beyond. July 2010

• House sales on the rise • Sir Terry Farrell reveals his design vision for Ashford

The introduction of high-speed domestic rail services have had a positive impact on Kent as a business location. September 2010


Full steam ahead for Ashford’s growth Ashford’s growth is reaching new levels of success as funding is secured for another year’s worth of work. With the release of the latest round of Growth Area Funding, Ashford will be a hive of activity over the next 12 months. Work is already underway on improvements to one motorway junction and major traffic route into town,

a brand new road through south Ashford, and an iconic new library and community building. The latest round of funding will also fund the creation of various community projects. With this level of new infrastructure in place, Ashford is well equipped to make the transformation into a vibrant, culturally-rich and exciting town to live, work and do business.

Short road to recovery for Ashford Ashford is set to have one of the fastest recoveries from the 2007 recession in the county. According to recent figures from the South East England Development

Agency, Ashford will return to pre-recession levels of output and employment by the end of 2010, compared to a wait of up to six more years for other Kentish towns.

The figures also show Ashford will have the highest rate of economic recovery in Kent, with a projected growth rate of 2.7% in 2010 and 2.5% in 2011.

Transport Major development opportunities have been unlocked in Ashford with the start of two crucial road projects. Contracts have been let to expand Junction 9 of the M20, and to construct a new road through south Ashford, bringing vast improvements for the town’s transport infrastructure. The contract for the expansion of J9 of the M20 (one of the main road routes in and out of the town) was awarded to BAMNutall, following the successful completion of a £15.1m Regional Infrastructure Funding Agreement and two further developer funding agreements in May 2010. The work includes expanding the motorway junction, increasing capacity on an adjacent roundabout and building a stunning new foot and cycle bridge across the motorway to improve pedestrian access to Eureka Business and Leisure Parks. Once completed in spring 2011, the improved access to and from the town will open up development opportunities for up to 10,000 new homes and 6,000 new jobs in the area. A contract has also been awarded to Volker Fitzpatrick to construct a new link road, Victoria Way, from the International Station to south Ashford. The new road will greatly improve commuter access to the International Station, and open up links to south Ashford’s new urban communities and increasingly popular rural residential areas. The project was awarded £16.5m Community Infrastructure Funding, and will unlock substantial commercial, residential and retail opportunities, as well as around 1,320 new homes and 1,100 new jobs by 2020.

Victoria Square will be the focal point of Victoria Way

4

The new M20 footbridge

The borough’s growth is substantially larger than the average for the county.


An iconic new ‘Gateway’ for Ashford Ashford’s old library in the town centre is being replaced by a stunning new building - Ashford Gateway Plus - that will substantially improve public services for the growing population and create a new landmark building in the town centre. Ashford Gateway Plus will house new and improved library services and a range of public and voluntary services under one roof. Ashford’s Future has contributed £1.95m to the £7.56m project, which is run in partnership with Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council. Services will include a larger library, register office for civil wedding ceremonies, housing advice, social services, adult education, free internet and a new café. The new building, due to open in 2011, will also be an iconic new structure in Ashford’s growing town centre for residents and visitors to enjoy, and improve the provision of public services for both new and established residents.

To find out more visit www.kent.gov.uk/ashfordgatewayplus

Arts at St Mary’s One of Ashford’s most visited historic landmarks is to be transformed into a ‘shared sacred space’ as work on a stunning new arts venue gets underway in the town. Substantial renovation work is to be carried out at St Mary’s Church in Ashford town centre, to enable the venue to host arts, music and drama events for up to 350 people while still serving its congregation. Taking inspiration from Union Chapel in Islington, the church will have a much more flexible performance space at its heart suitable for both religious and secular events, and will be the centerpiece of the town’s cultural offer. The re-ordering of the church was approved by The Church of England’s official planning body in June, and work started in October and complete in spring 2011.

The work includes new flexible seating, lighting rig, raised stage, toilets, disabled access, and under floor heating. The project will cost £1.7m, including £1.2m of Growth Area Funding from Ashford’s Future, £100,000 from Ashford Borough Council and further contributions from The Church of England and other external partners. Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, said: “Having an impressive, flexible arts venue offering a vibrant cultural programme to residents and visitors alike is an integral part of Ashford’s growth agenda and the reordering of St Mary’s will give our growing population an arts programme to be proud of.”


Case study

Grosvenor Hall Activity Centre Ashford is fast becoming a leader in educational activity courses with the opening of a brand new Kingswood Educational Activity Centre. In 2010, Kingswood – part of the Educational Travel Group – successfully converted Ashford’s Grosvenor Hall into one of the top educational activity centres in Europe. Chosen for its excellent location just minutes from the M20 and Ashford International Station, the former police training college underwent a multi-million pound redevelopment and opened its doors in March as a high specification activity centre with some of the best outdoor education facilities in the UK. Centre manager Matt Healey said: “I don’t think any other centre in the UK comes close to the facilities now available in Ashford. We have a very diverse programme and it is attracting more and more people nationally and internationally.” The centre offers residential multi-activity courses to school children from across the globe. Facilities include zip wires, mini-quad bikes, climbing walls, a swimming pool, two cinemas, fencing, archery, lazer-quest and problem solving tasks linked to the national curriculum. Since opening, 60 per cent of the centre’s users have been international, and Ashford’s prime location on the gateway to Europe has proved a high selling point. Mr Healey continued: “Ashford was a superb location for us, being so close to very high population areas and easily accessible by Eurostar and Gatwick airport. “Being able to get to Ashford quickly and easily by train or road is a major deciding factor for our international visitors, and many of the visiting teachers have commented how well placed the centre is.” Ashford has also provided the centre with a large pool of local skilled workers, and Kingswood Ashford stands out as having more local staff on its 116-strong team than its other centres in the UK. “We recruit most of our instructors nationally,” said Mr Healey. “But in Ashford about 50 per cent of our staff are local. Our team, particularly housekeeping, is outstanding and we are driving the national standard.”

Regeneration News - Housebuilding and sales on the rise in Ashford Ashford’s appeal as a great place to live continues to grow as one of the town’s most sought-after developments reports selling homes at a rate of two a week. Despite the economic downturn, both house building and sales in Ashford continue at an impressive rate. As housebuilding has slowed in other areas, activity is at its highest level in Ashford since 2007, with a total of 466 new homes under construction in the borough in July. And word is clearly spreading about the high quality Taylor Wimpey’s new Bridgefield residential development, in the prospering Cheeseman’s Green area, which has seen a quarter of homes snapped up already by eager buyers. The current phase of the development comprises a collection of three and four-bedroom homes priced between £155,000 and £290,000, in a semirural setting just 10 minutes away from Ashford town centre and station. Taylor Wimpey South East Sales Manager Kelly Dunn says: “The current phase of our Bridgefield development got off to a flying start at the beginning of this year. “Our showhome is attracting no end of new visitors in search of property in Ashford who are keen to see how good life can be here.”


Sir Terry Farrell unveils his vision for Ashford Sir Terry Farrell has revealed his vision for Ashford’s transformation into the ‘powerhouse of Kent’ in the next 20 years. As the town’s design ambassador, the world renowned architect’s ideas will help shape the borough’s ambitious growth plans and ensure Ashford continues to be recognised internationally as a place to watch. Sir Terry unveiled his vision at a special exhibition in Ashford on 2nd June, and said the 37 minute high-speed rail service to London could make Ashford the new Lille, which has transformed beyond all recognition in recent years due to strong rail links.

Among the ideas identified as central to Ashford’s future development are: • Link Ashford International Station to the town centre, and integrate the station with its surrounding areas; • Create the new Commercial Quarter as a vibrant part of the town; • Create new ‘iconic’ pedestrian bridges across the railway, linking south Ashford with the town centre; • Complete the transformation of the ring road as a shared surface; • Create a mixed urban quarter and heritage complex at the old Newtown railway works;

Capitalising on High Speed Rail Leeds

M1

M11

Birmingham M6

London

Gravesend

St Pancras

22 mins

City Airport

Ebbsfleet

Heathrow Airport

17 mins

M23

Gatwick Airport

Brighton

Thamesport Medway

91 mins

Sheerness

33 mins

Margate

HS1

Manston Airport

Canterbury

37 mins

Ashford

80 mins Ramsgate

59 mins

HS1

69 mins Dover

57 mins

Port of Ramsgate

Port of Dover

CTRL

Folkestone

Lydd Airport

Europe

“The arrival of high speed rail is extraordinarily beneficial to Ashford. The service connects Ashford to a vibrant and changing part of central London, and improves links with the rest of the UK. “High speed rail represents an exciting opportunity for Ashford to re-think its role within Kent, the greater South East and the rest of the UK.”

• Reinvigorate the historic high street to reinforce its distinctive identities; • Maintain the highest standards of housing and environmental design.

Complete the shared space

“Ashford should be the first town in Britain to reinvent its ‘concrete collar’ as a network of connected pedestrian avenues.”

Create new bridges across the railway

“New bridges will become icons which help to reinforce Ashford’s reputation as a place of exceptional connectivity and design Ashford’s Design Ambassador excellence.”

Create new bridges across the railway line Enhanced green bridge between Station Quarter and town centre at Beaver Road New bridges link Elwick Road to the Southern Expansion Quarter

Integrate the station with its neighbours

New bridges across the rail line will improve pedestrian connections between South Ashford and the town centre. New bridges will provide local people with improved connections to the retail core and access to all the town centre’s opportunities. These will also become icons which help to reinforce Ashford’s reputation as a place of exceptional connectivity and design excellence to the wider world.

“The Station Quarter has great potential to become a vibrant new destination as well as help to shape Ashford’s economy over the next 20 years.”

Improved pedestrian bridge connecting Bank Street to South Ashford

Enhanced Station bridge connecting International and Domestic Station


Reasons To Smile This summer saw thousands of people discover their Reasons To Smile about Ashford. As part of a major campaign promoting the town as the “smart choice” for all, Ashford’s Future aimed to drive home to commuters in London why Ashford is such an attractive place to live and work, with brilliant rail links, more space for your money, low business costs, stunning countryside, and high performing schools and education centres.

Think you know

Ashford?

Think again. • 37 mins from London • Superfast connections to Europe • Lower office rents • Skilled labour force • Better house prices • Excellent quality of life

Scratch cards containing chances to win fantastic prizes were handed out to thousands of commuters at eight mainline stations in London. Prizes included Eurostar tickets, four star hotel breaks, a spa day, a golf day for four, and award-winning Kent wine. And for those who missed out on the giveaways, the Financial Times showed exactly why Ashford is the smart choice for a fulfilling future, with a full-page promotional wrap around 8,000 copies of the newspaper in the capital.

Ashford. Top location…

Ashford is one of the top locations in Kent for businesses, according to a new perception survey amongst key business figures in the South East. www.ashfordbestplaced.co.uk The survey, by investment promotion agency Locate in Kent, found Ashford was a front runner as a preferred business location compared to other major towns in the county, and the majority of respondents felt that the area had improved over the past five years and would continue to do so in the near future. The perception survey also showed that 60% of respondents were aware of Ashford’s growth agenda, and 81% thought this made Ashford more attractive to businesses. The arrival of the 37 minute rail service from Ashford to London St Pancras has made a considerable impact, with 88% of respondents feeling this made Ashford more attractive as a business area. A further 72% felt the same way about the international Eurostar services. Some of the positive comments received included: “Got everything going for it...the International Station and links and the Eurostar, lots of lovely countryside. The town centre has improved immensely over the last 20 years.” “Very, very good communication links down there. They have a superb infrastructure.” “It could be a major transport hub. I see Ashford has more potential and development opportunity than Maidstone.”

We have moved! For more information on how you can be a part of Ashford’s Future, visit www.ashfordbestplaced.co.uk or contact: Ashford’s Future, 11th Floor, International House Dover Place Ashford, Kent TN23 1HU Tel: 01233 330812 Email: investment@ashfordbestplaced.co.uk


Ashford Briefing Autumn 2010