Ashford Town Centre

As part of wider inward investment, Ashford Borough Council are turning their attention to regenerating the high street and plan to invest £520 million directly into the town centre.

With developments such as Elwick Place set to welcome new tenants like Macknade Fine Foods and the Ashford International Model Railway Exhibition Centre (AIMREC), the town centre’s retail and leisure scene is becoming increasingly diverse, helping drive commercial interest from exciting, new businesses and attract more visitors to the area.

The food and beverage offering in Ashford is also evolving and the town is building a reputation as a key destination to eat and drink, as visible with the launch of Curious Brewery and with The Coachworks.

Through initiatives such as free parking at certain times throughout the week, the council is leading the way for town centre regeneration and is determined to buck the national trend of a struggling high street.

Love Ashford

Described as ‘Ashford’s digital high street’, Love Ashford is an online platform dedicated to showcasing local businesses and promoting the high street and town centre. Business owners and residents are able submit business listings, special offers, events or news stories to Love Ashford for free promotion on its website and social media channels.

Love Ashford is also heavily involved in organising events that drive visitors from elsewhere in the borough and the county. For example, the highly popular Ashford Snowdogs art trail, the arts festival Create Platform and community events such as The Great British Bark Off.

For more information, visit the Love Ashford website.

Economic Impact

Whilst the majority of UK towns are noticing a clear decline in town centre footfall, Ashford has been bucking the trend, with increased footfall and reduced vacancy rates thanks to proactive actions by the Council.

Introducing free parking in certain car parks after 3pm and on weekends, organising events and experiences in the town centre and developing a clear strategy for the Park Mall shopping centre have all benefited the Ashford high street over the last couple of years:

  • Footfall increased 5.8% in 2018 compared to 2017, and has been increasing since, with an 18.9% increase in 2019, compared to 2018.
  • The Council reported a total of 287,000 visitors in the town centre in April 2019.
  • Vacancy rates have been clearly reduced in 2018.

These increased numbers of visitors have had a positive impact for independent retailers, who have noticed a 17% increase in trading figures in 2018 compared to 2017. Made in Ashford, a craft shop ran by local creatives, has even reported a 30% increase in trading figures for the same year.

County Square, one of Ashford’s premier shopping destination have also benefited from this and reported a 3.1% increase in visitors in 2018, taking their total number of shoppers for the year to 6.2 million.

The strategies and actions put in place by Ashford Borough Council have been highly commended by the Government, who have since developed a similar model to help high streets across the UK.

Key retail and restaurant locations in Ashford:

One of the most vibrant towns in the South East, Ashford offers a unique location for retailers and food and drink businesses thanks to a growing population (10% growth expected by 2025).

With quick access to London, commuters have chosen Ashford as a place to settle with their family. This is visible in the local average income being 14% higher than the national average.

Ashford town centre has also benefited from over £520 million investment, which have resulted in new office blocks which in turn has attracted more highly-skilled employees and businesses, alongside new leisure destinations.

Discover the key locations in the town centre:

High Street

The Ashford high street boasts uniqueness with many independent retailers taking up vacant units, alongside some upcoming national brands. Brands and retailers will benefit from events put on by the Council in the high street on a regular basis.

Elwick Place

A 100,000 sq. ft. development located next to County Square and the International station, Elwick Place is a new leisure complex. It is already home to a six-screen Picturehouse cinema, a 58-bed Travelodge hotel and Macknade’s new all-day dining experience.

Located next to a 282-space car park, it is the perfect destination for a new café or restaurant.

For more information on this development, visit the Elwick Place website.

Park Mall

Owned by Ashford Borough Council, Park Mall is a key example of the council’s belief that independent shops should be at the heart of town centre regeneration. It offers residents and visitors a unique place to shop and meet, with many independent retailers and cafes on site, alongside national brands.

To encourage independent retailers to open a shop, the council offers them attractive renting terms, from free rent for up to a year to access to adjusted rents based on their revenue streams. Made in Ashford and Emporia Fabric and Craft have benefited from this unique location and have seen a clear increase in their footfall and trading figures.

To find out more about Park Mall, contact our Town Centre Regeneration manager.

County Square

Home to some of the UK’s most popular brands, from JD Sports and Deichmann to Metro Bank and the Entertainer, County Square is a thriving shopping centre.

With a growing number of visitors every year (up 3.1% in 2018 from 2017), it is the perfect location for national brands to set up and benefit from an amazing location, in the heart of the town centre and next to two car parks.

For more information about available space in County Square, get in touch with their team here.

Property Agents in Ashford

If you would like to find out more about Ashford as a retail and restaurant destination, you can get in touch with local property agents:

Ashford town centre in the press

Thanks to the council’s innovative approach, the Ashford town centre has made the headlines in many national and international papers, including The Economist, The Guardian, The Daily Mirror, Arte TV, RICS Property Journal, The New York Times and The Telegraph Business.

For more information on the Ashford town centre, get in touch with our Town Centre Regeneration manager.