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A boost to Ashford’s economy as corporate plan delivers real progress

A Kent local authority’s five-year Corporate Plan is succeeding in delivering economic investment and growth, together with real improvements in living standards and services for its residents.

That’s the verdict of Ashford Borough Council after it carried out a review of its Corporate Plan as it approaches the halfway point. Councillors heard about the significant progress being made against the goals the council set itself when the plan was adopted in 2015. The priorities include:

  • Enterprising Ashford - economic investment and growth
  • Living Ashford - quality housing and homes for all
  • Active & Creative Ashford - healthy choices through physical, cultural and leisure engagement
  • Attractive Ashford - countryside & townscape, heritage & conservation.

Members heard how work is underway on the first major office building in the Commercial Quarter, the first of its type in the town centre for many years. Construction is also due to start on site in the coming months at Elwick Place with a new town centre cinema, restaurants and a hotel being built on a brownfield site.

And the new £26 million Ashford College campus will open to students in September, providing a range of improved training opportunities for local people and helping to produce the skilled workforce being demanded from employers in the fastest growing town between London and Continental Europe.

Construction at Chilmington Green, a 5,750 home garden suburb on the south western outskirts of Ashford, is underway following the signing of a S106 agreement which will see developers contributing £125 million towards education, transport, community and sports facilities. And work on the Designer Shopping Outlet expansion is due to start later this year.

Among the transport projects in the pipeline include a major signalling upgrade at Ashford International Station to ensure the next generation of Eurostar trains continue to serve Ashford, while funding has been secured for the new junction 10A on the M20, which will provide vital extra capacity to facilitate economic expansion planned in South Ashford.

A host of other projects that are contributing towards the Corporate Plan priorities are also being delivered, including investment in sporting and leisure facilities, the continued success of the annual Create music festival, and initiatives such as Farrow Court and Danemore which have improved the housing provision for the borough’s elderly population.

Looking ahead, councillors heard of exciting projects planned for the next two years, including further development in the Commercial Quarter, plans to rejuvenate Victoria Park, new commercial building acquisitions, the adoption of a new local plan, and additional investment at Conningbrook Lakes Country Park.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “At the mid-way point in our Corporate Plan it is a good time to take stock of the progress and set the council new challenges and a clear sense of direction for future work over the next few years.

“The range and scale of achievement of our ‘Big 8’ projects shows what a combination of strong political direction and officers’ endeavour can achieve. We believe in action, not words, and as we can all clearly see, great progress has been made over the last two years across every aspect of our Corporate Plan.

“There is still more we can do, but I hope residents, businesses and visitors can take great heart from the many projects and exciting developments coming forward that will all have a positive effect on the borough’s future economic prosperity.”

For more information visit www.ashfordfor.com

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