Published: 13:50, 10 December 2020
| Updated: 18:30, 10 December 2020
Ashford Borough Council has bought the Park Mall car park amid a newly revealed town centre overhaul.
The two-storey site will come under the ownership of the authority after purchasing it from Chariot Investment Holdings.
The price is not yet known, with a council spokesman saying: “It can’t be disclosed at the moment due to commercial sensitivity.
“A report is due to be presented to cabinet in December.
“By purchasing the leasehold interest in the car park it will generate a revenue return which will assist in closing the council’s budget gap caused by this year’s pandemic.”
Operated by NCP, the company will continue to run the 304-bay facility when the site has been fully transferred to council ownership as a leasehold.
Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson (Con) confirmed the purchase during a cabinet meeting discussion of the Ashford town centre reset plan, which will aim to rejuvenate Bank Street and Elwick Road.
Cllr Clarkson said during last month's session: “I just wanted to mention that in the last day or two, we’ve been successful in purchasing the NCP car park.
“We own Park Mall now and we wanted to acquire that, and we’ve used the opportunity of all that’s going on to achieve it.
“It’ll give us return in the interim but it will be very necessary for us in the longer term in terms of the town centre redevelopment.”
As part of the new strategy, Park Mall could be converted to residential use with current occupiers moving to premises in Bank Street.
Immediately after the announcement, Labour’s Cllr Charles Suddards said: “The thing that springs to mind from this initially is that it’s apparent the council is continuing with its flatted development of the town centre, allowing for greater development of single and two-bedroom flats.
“Yet there seems to be scant reference to additional car parking for individuals, which is already incredibly difficult for residents of the town centre - many of whom are unable to get permits or have anywhere to park their cars.”
The car park was due to go to auction this month before ABC stepped in.