Cllr Gerry Clarkson announced at last week’s planning committee that a new cinema could be built on vacant land off Elwick Road.
Although it is not clear which chain is interested in investing in the town, the council leader said the new cinema complex could be built on a site opposite the Debenhams department store.
He said: “We’re very hopeful that a cinema and other activities will come to the town. With the added number of residents who will be located there, this will only help to invigorate the town centre.
“We have plans to develop the Elwick Road area.”
As well as a cinema it is understood the development – on the former Ashford livestock market site – would also include restaurants and shops.
It is one of half a dozen major projects (known as the‘big six’) that Ashford council leaders identified in the autumn as being crucial to Ashford’s growth and economic development.
Ashford Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson
It is unclear at this stage whether the new cinema would be built and run by Cineworld, the company which owns Ashford’s existing 12-screen cinema at the Eureka Leisure Park, or a rival.
Cllr Clarkson’s surprise announcement was made during the planning meeting (December 18) where councillors approved plans for a major housing development on the Kent Wool Growers’ site in Tannery Lane.
The council leader also revealed that plans to expand the Designer Outlet would see it meet up with the edge of the town centre.
He said: “The Designer Outlet will come right up to the town centre.
“We’re expecting the planning application for the Designer Outlet and Elwick Road to be submitted in early 2014.
“This is a very exciting time for the town.”
Plans to double the size of the Kimberley Way shopping centre were confirmed in November by the bosses at the McArthurGlen group.
The scheme would see the shopping mall add another 150,000 sq ft of retail space to its current 183,000 sq ft.
If approved work could begin in late 2014 and completed by the end of 2016.