The Big 8
The borough has a rich heritage but is also embracing growth with its ambitious plans for the future. The large-scale developments, called the 'Big 8', collectively are major projects which emphasise this ambition, illustrating how the council intends to unlock major opportunities, while delivering new jobs, housing, retail and cultural facilities.
Our major projects are:
- Commercial Quarter
- J10a of the M20
- Chilmington Green
- Designer Outlet expansion
- Elwick Place
- International College Campus
- Jasmin Vardimon
- Ashford International signalling
The commercial quarter is a mixed-use development that will maximise the advantages of its location. It will be the dynamic new main business hub in the town, next to the domestic and international railway stations.
It will stimulate major investment opportunities, creating several hundred jobs, up to 590,000 square feet of office space and 150 apartments.
The council worked with local developers Quinn Estates Ltd and George Wilson Holdings Ltd on bringing this forward. Phase 1, a 80,500 sq ft office block, opened in spring 2018.
Public realm around International House and along Dover Place is creating a sense of place, forming an attractive and unmistakable first impression of the town.
The future development of Ashford has depended on new motorway junction capacity – specifically J10a of the M20.
The government's decision to fund the long-awaited junction will be a catalyst for economic and commercial development in Ashford, creating job opportunities and improving the infrastructure of the town.
The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has secured substantial funding from the government to help deliver the junction, which opened in 2019.
This leisure complex includes a town centre cinema with places to eat and drink around a new square and meeting place for the town centre.
This first phase of the Elwick Place development opposite County Square will help to bring extra vitality to the town during the day and evening. The Picturehouse cinema and Travelodge Hotel opened in late 2018, with other retail units joining them including Unita 4 restaurant and Matches sports bar.
For more information visit the Elwick Place website.
The expansion of the outlet centre has the scope to further Ashford's international appeal, while creating stronger links to the station and having an offer that complements the town centre with different, significant retailers.
The McArthurGlen planned large expansion would look to create the next generation of designer outlet, reflecting the quality of its flagship McArthurGlen Designer Outlets in Continental Europe.
The expansion opened in autumn 2019.
For more information visit the McArthur Glen Ashford Designer Outlet website.
Outline planning permission was granted in October 2014 for a major new residential community that, subject to further planning consents, will see the development of up to 5,750 quality homes.
There will also be schools and infrastructure, and the creation of over 1,000 jobs on the site in shops and education etc. in the next 20 years.
Chilmington Green is key to meeting the borough's need for extra homes and nearly 10 years of careful planning points firmly towards a high quality, carefully planned development.
There is a real commitment to delivering the best at Chilmington Green with a charter, outlining 32 commitments to making a quality place and vibrant community, agreed to by developers.
For more information visit our Chilmington Green page.
This is a new Ashford College offering further and higher education on a new £26m campus in a key location in the town centre.
The Station Road/Elwick Road campus provides a high quality learning facility, immediately opposite the Commercial Quarter, which will help to significantly increase activity in the town centre.
The new college opened to students in September 2017 and was the first of the Big 8 projects to be completed.
For more information visit the Ashford College website.
A project to provide more cultural space for the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Academy to expand their offer. Their new base on the Henwood Industrial Estate opened in November 2022, where they are now able to share their inspiring work with local audiences.
This renowned company tours nationally and internationally, performing at high profile venues across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US.
For more information visit the Jasmin Vardimon Company website.
Providing a signalling solution for Ashford International Station, so that the next generation of Eurostar trains can continue to stop at the station is vitally important.
A partnership of Kent County Council, Ashford Borough Council, Network Rail, Eurostar, HS1, Department for Transport and the Office for Road and Rail worked closely together to deliver the new signalling.