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Former B&Q and HomePlus store faces imminent demolition for 'Ashford Shard' scheme

Demolition of a former homeware store is expected to start soon after contractors began removing asbestos from the site.

Ashford Borough Council’s own property company, A Better Choice for Property Ltd, bought the ex-HomePlus site in Beaver Road from the Southern Housing Group in 2019.

The ex-HomePlus site has now been cordoned off ahead of demolition to make way for the 'Ashford Shard' scheme
The ex-HomePlus site has now been cordoned off ahead of demolition to make way for the 'Ashford Shard' scheme

It revealed plans to redevelop the spot last year, but its controversial 16-storey ‘Ashford Shard’ scheme was sent back to the drawing board last month by ABC’s planning committee.

In a statement, a spokesman for A Better Choice for Property Ltd said the company was disappointed the council’s planning committee – which deferred the scheme – could not agree with the recommendation to permit the development.

He said the company would now “consider options for taking the scheme forward”.

He added: “In the meantime demolition of the existing building has started with the removal of asbestos by specialist contractors which will then be followed by complete demolition and site clearance.

“The company remains firmly convinced that it is an exciting landmark scheme in a prominent gateway site and the plans have been subject to detailed scrutiny during 12 months of consultation.

The 'Ashford Shard' scheme features 214 apartments in two blocks as well as nine houses
The 'Ashford Shard' scheme features 214 apartments in two blocks as well as nine houses
B&Q previously occupied the store before HomePlus moved in, as this photo from November 1982 shows. Picture: Steve Salter
B&Q previously occupied the store before HomePlus moved in, as this photo from November 1982 shows. Picture: Steve Salter

“During this time the applicant has listened carefully to suggestions by the design review panel and others, and have adapted and reworked their proposals to satisfy any concerns raised.”

ABC set up the A Better Choice for Property company in 2014.

Chiefs say the company helps to generate new income to pay for council services.

When permission to bulldoze the shop was gained in June, the ‘Ashford Shard’ scheme had not yet been discussed by the planning committee, but bosses said they wanted to demolish the shop so the site “can be safely cleared and made ready for redevelopment ahead of a decision being taken”.

The land is now surrounded by temporary fencing and signs have been put up around the spot warning people not to enter as ‘demolition work is in progress’.

How the 'Ashford Shard' development could look
How the 'Ashford Shard' development could look
Last month, HomePlus Furniture opened its new town centre store inside the former Argos
Last month, HomePlus Furniture opened its new town centre store inside the former Argos

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