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On track for changes in Ashford
By Hannah Ratcliffe
BBC Kent

Ashford will double in size by 2030 with 31,000 new homes and 28,000 new jobs.

Since 2003, Ashford has been a designated South East growth area, along with the Thames Gateway, Milton Keynes and Stansted/M11 corridor.

To support the large expansion, Ashford needs a strong infrastructure in place.

An aspect of this is transport and this is where Ashford's main strength lies, with high speed trains to London and Europe as well quick access to the M20.

A map showing areas of Ashford planned for development
Areas highlighted in orange are planned for development

The high speed trains to London have reduced journey times between the capital and Ashford from around an hour and a half to 37 minutes. Eurostar passenger services to Paris take two hours, while Lille is 57 minutes away and Brussels within 90 minutes.

In 2010 work will start on Victoria Way, the extension of Victoria Road to connect Beaver Road to the A28 Chart Road. This will initiate the development of 1,323 homes, as well as office and leisure space.

Bringing in business

There are three main areas where businesses can base themselves around the town of Ashford.

Eureka Business Park, next to junction 9 of the M20, has planning permission for one million square feet of office accommodation. 150,000 square feet of that is built and currently occupied. Funding has been secured for improvements to junction 9 which will enable Eureka Business Park to expand. These will start in spring 2010.

There are plans to develop a commercial quarter in the centre of Ashford with high quality public space and office buildings. Judith Armitt, Director of Ashford's Future, the partnership in charge of the town's expansion, says these buildings will be "taller perhaps than Ashford is used to".

The Sevington and Waterbrook areas are being developed for industries with large space requirements.

Shared Space

At the start of 2009, Ashford's shared space scheme was unveiled. Transforming the south edge of the town's ring road, the redesign aims to give pedestrians and cyclists more priority on the road and to slow down the vehicle traffic.

A section of Ashford's shared space
The shared space was designed for pedestrians and cars to use together

The reason that stretch of the ring road was altered is because there is planned expansion in that part of the town centre. When this expansion is complete a considerable increase in pedestrian traffic across the shared space is expected.

SEEDA owns the land south of the town on the other side of the shared space. Together with the Ashford's Future Partners they have selected Stanhope Plc to develop this area known as Elwick Place.




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