Published: 12:10, 04 January 2018
Building work to almost double the size of the Ashford McArthurGlen Designer Outlet is set to begin on Monday.
McArthurGlen first announced plans to expand the centre in 2014, and secured planning approval from Ashford Borough Council in September 2015. This will be the outlet's first extension since opening in 2000.
McLaren Construction has been appointed on the much anticipated 100,000 sq ft extension to the centre, which will go through the original food court and the overflow car park.
Centre manager Peter Corr said: “After four years of planning we’re incredibly excited to confirm that building works on the new extension will commence.
"Over the next 18 months we will be investing £90 million into the centre to elevate the whole shopping experience for our guests, while also working hard to ensure our visitor experience remains memorable and enjoyable during this time.
"Once the extension is complete Ashford Designer Outlet will become one of the UK’s flagship fashion, food and homeware destinations, with over 130 stores, restaurants and cafes.“
With plans to open in Autumn 2019, the extension will house an additional 50 premium and luxury brands - some of which have already been signed up to join the centre - a new food piazza, 725 further parking spaces as well as a new events space and redesigned children’s play area.
The expansion will also include the installation of Europe’s largest living wall structure and many of the stores in the new phase will be clad in tens of thousands of plants, all stacked vertically.
Mr Corr continued: “While it’s too early to reveal any names, we are committed to expanding the extensive range of brands already on offer.
"In the past three years alone we’ve introduced highly sought-after brands including Calvin Klein, All Saints, Diesel, Cath Kidston, Osprey London, Jack Wills, Timberland and Abercrombie & Fitch.”
Generating over 500 jobs, the expansion will also include a complimentary shuttle bus linking the Ashford Designer Outlet to the town centre and the international train station at peak weekends and during the school holidays.
McArthurGlen is also providing funds for the enhancement of pedestrian and cycle routes from the station.
The expansion of Ashford Designer Outlet is one of eight major projects highlighted by Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council as key employment and economic drivers in the development of the area.
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are pleased to hear McArthurGlen announce its building contractor and confirm that building works will commence shortly.
"The expansion of the Designer Outlet will transform it into one of the UK’s premier outlet centres, enhancing the shopping experience and providing a complementary offer to our town centre.
"This news illustrates the confidence that major investors have in Ashford and the borough’s future.
"It is clear that we are gaining a growing reputation as a town attracting inward investment and high-calibre, quality brands.”