Published: 14:00, 10 April 2014
Details of where and how the Ashford Designer Outlet will be expanded have been revealed.
The ambitions plans would see the shopping centre come within 500 metres of Ashford’s town centre.
The proposal includes plans to expand at either end of the existing shopping mall – almost doubling it in size.
Although no formal planning application has yet to be submitted to Ashford council, the details of the proposed expansion were included in a report from agents Peter Brett Associations, on behalf of the McArthurGlen Group, which owns the shopping centre.
Plans north of the existing centre – towards the town centre – would see the expansion work take in the overflow car park (car park D) in Newtown Road, as well as a small piece of land above the car park, and the area that is currently used as the bus and coach drop-off area, near the Newtown Road roundabout.
It is understood the new retail space will be created above the car park at ground level matching Romney Marsh Road, while around 400 new car parking spaces would sit underneath, in the existing car park.
The southern extension, in the direction of Hamstreet, would see the overflow car park near Asda, in Kimberley Way, extended into part of the field between Romney Marsh Road and Bad Munstereifel Road.
As well as extending north and south of the centre, there are also plans to add extra retail space within the middle of the current shopping centre, near the food court.
The development would see an additional 1,200 parking spaces – 800 at the southern end in a ground-level car park and 400 spaces in the underground car park near Romney Marsh Road.
In total, an extra 165,000 sq ft of retail space would be added to the current 183,000 sq ft.
The number of additional shops would be around 80, bringing the centre’s total to 165, creating hundreds of extra jobs.
Head of planning and development at Ashford council Richard Alderton said: “They’re proposing to build on top of car park D, which is off Newtown Road.
"They would need to include some form of traffic calming over Newtown Road so that people could walk from one site to another.
“There are also plans to build where the existing coach drop-off point is, and add some retail space inside the existing centre, near the food court.
“Their hope is that shoppers will be able to walk through all sections quite seamlessly.
“The designs are at a very early stage, however, and are still being worked on. They need to get it right.”
If approved, the development could be carried out in several phases, the first concentrating on changes to the existing shopping centre, while the second will look at the expansion.
The proposal also suggests that enhancements would be made to the vehicle and pedestrian routes, including improving access between the Outlet, Ashford International station and the town centre.
Bosses at McArthurGlen revealed last year that they plan to keep the appearance of the extension similar to the current style.
It is not known when a formal planning application will be submitted to Ashford council, but it is expected some time this year.
If approved, construction could start at the end of the year.
A spokesman from the McArthurGlen Group said: “Ashford Designer Outlet is due to submit a planning application later this year to double the size of the centre, building on the success of the outlet and providing the opportunity for more aspirational brands to open in Ashford.
“The expansion of the centre will not only create additional jobs, but will also further establish Ashford as a key shopping destination in the South East, benefiting the local economy, as well as attracting tourism from domestic and international visitors.
“We look forward to announcing more details on the project once planning is submitted.”
“The expansion of the centre will not only create additional jobs, but will also further establish Ashford as a key shopping destination in the South East" - McArthurGlen spokesman
Leader of Ashford Borough Council, Cllr Gerry Clarkson said: “The whole idea is to bring the Outlet right up to the town centre, so that we will have increased footfall in the town.
“If it goes ahead it will be one of the best Outlet centres in Europe.
“I think it is very exciting. It shows Ashford is the place to be.
“There is more going on here than any other borough in the county. Plus we are the only international town in the UK.”