Planning Approval granted for Newtown Works

Posted on 23 April 2020

Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee granted planning approval for Newtown Works, an ambitious £250m film studio-led regeneration of a derelict railway works in Ashford, Kent.

The project, led by master developer Quinn Estates, alongside funding partner U+I, operator The Creative District Improvement Company and award-winning architects Hollaway, will put the borough on the map as a key UK hub for the creative industries and support the creation of 2,000 jobs in town.

CGI of Newtown Works film studios in Ashford
Planning approval was granted on April 22 for Newtown Works

Newtown Works will include:

  • 240,000 sq. Ft. Of dedicated production space across four new build film studios equipped with the highest acoustic and lighting specifications.

  • A 120-bed hotel.

  • Workshops and 300 apartments in the Grade II listed locomotive sheds.

  • Space for a new Kent Film School, in partnership with local universities and colleges.

  • 383-space multi-storey car park.

  • A roof-top restaurant.

CGI of Newtown Works Film Studios in Ashford
Newtown Works will create 2,000 jobs in Ashford

Work will begin immediately with a target date of 2022 set for the launch of Ashford International Studios and a formal bidding process for studio space will be launched following the decision. A number of leading production companies have shown interest and are expected to be bidding for space.

Not only will this development put Ashford on the map nationally and internationally, it will also create sought after film studio space, provide thousands of jobs and make the town a hub for the creative arts industry.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “This development will be one of the most important economic drivers for the borough in the next few years and demonstrates the confidence that investors continue to have in Ashford.

“These exciting proposals involve finding a new use for one of the longest listed buildings in the country, which is of significant historical value but have been left to decay. This development will sensitively ensure our proud railway heritage is recognised, while transforming a brownfield site which has laid dormant for many years into a Film and TV Studio hub together with a hotel, serviced apartments, conferencing facility and a health club

“Not only will this development put Ashford on the map nationally and internationally, it will also create sought after film studio space, provide thousands of jobs and make the town a hub for the creative arts industry, which is set to grow significantly in the future.”

CGI of Newtown Works Film Studios in Ashford
Newtown Works will include four new film studios.

Mark Quinn, CEO, Quinn Estates, said: “The decision by Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee to approve Newtown Works is fantastic news, both for the town of Ashford and the broader South-East region.

“Their backing means we can collectively start to rebuild the industry, jobs and momentum temporarily lost as a result of what has been happening globally, building on the investment in the town that has already been made to deliver an exciting new era for Ashford.

“The demand for studio space has never been higher, and the coronavirus pandemic has not changed that. We are also at an exciting stage in the process of attracting a number of private equity and institution backed funds to invest in the site.

“This decision will mean we will be able to confirm with leading production companies that the studios will be open for business in 2022. This will allow them to, at last, start the formal process of bidding to occupy our space at Ashford International Studios. Both companies are scheduling production up to three years ahead, and will therefore be able to commit, before we are even in the ground. Quinn Estates would like to acknowledge the council for recognising the value that Newtown Works will bring to the district and its residents.”

We will be able to confirm with leading production companies that the studios will be open in 2022. This will allow them to start the formal process of bidding to occupy our space at Ashford International Studios.

Mark Quinn, CEO, Quinn Estates

Richard Upton, Chief Development Officer at regeneration specialist U+I, commented: “Newtown Works will be a jewel in the crown of the UK’s entertainment industry, enlivening and rejuvenating this previously underused part of Ashford with a creative new community.

“The scheme demonstrates how, through collaboration and creativity, the property industry can work together to deliver homes, generate jobs and create meaningful places even during challenging times.”

The scheme demonstrates how, through collaboration and creativity, the property industry can work together to deliver homes, generate jobs and create meaningful places even during challenging times.

Richard Upton, Chief Development Officer, U+I

Guy Hollaway, from Folkestone-based Hollaway, which has worked closely with Quinn Estates on the design of the scheme, added: “We are incredibly proud to be the architects of Newtown Works, this is a significant opportunity for Ashford to embrace a new creative industry and resurrect these disused listed buildings, and we look forward to helping to realise this ambition.”

This is a significant opportunity for Ashford to embrace a new creative industry and resurrect these disused listed buildings.

Guy Hollaway, Hollaway

Piers Read and Jeremy Rainbird, founders of The Creative District Improvement Co. said: “Amidst this current global pandemic, it is extremely exciting to be given the go-ahead by the council to start work on what will become one of the UK’s biggest creative hubs. 

“Global streaming giants have already expressed interest in the scheme as demand for their services booms and before there is a huge backlog in production, as people stay at home and burn through original content at record levels.

“We have the ability to create thousands of jobs for people which is crucial at this time and we will also be able to ensure creative talent and skills are harnessed and nurtured through our planned education centre. We are thrilled that the council recognise the importance of Ashford International Studios and have given consent to this development which will deliver huge opportunities through its massive expansion of the industry in the UK.”

We have the ability to create thousands of jobs for people which is crucial at this time and we will also be able to ensure creative talent and skills are harnessed and nurtured through our planned education centre.

Piers Read and Jeremy Rainbird, Founders of The Creative District Improvement Co.

Gavin Cleary, CEO for Locate in Kent, said: “I see Ashford International Studios as a game changer for the creative and digital sector in Kent. A lot of work has gone into bringing this site to the attention of leading production companies and we look forward to hearing more on this, now that planning approval is in place. 

 ”Over the past five years, there has been an explosion in the number of creative businesses across Kent and Medway, with projects like Creative Estuary and the broader Thames Estuary Production Corridor supporting efforts to bring all that creative talent together and put the region on the map. Newtown Works is a key part of that story.

“In addition to the thousands of jobs that the film studios will create, the prospect of a Kent Film School also bodes extremely well for the growth of the creative industries in Kent.”

For more information on Newtown Works visit https://www.quinn-estates.com/property/newtown-works/