Published: 15:00, 11 April 2019
| Updated: 15:24, 11 April 2019
Work has begun on a £1.5 million plant installation which will prove the centrepiece of a shopping centre's expansion.
As part of the £90 million Ashford Designer Outlet project, a 'living wall' will be erected alongside 50 new retail units.
The display will feature about 120,000 plants, making it the largest living wall in Europe.
A leading company in the field - Biotecture - is designing, growing and installing the greenery, which will stretch to the length of 60 double-decker buses.
Being raised in the firm's West Sussex nurseries, amongst the species will be Fortune Spindles, Boxleaf Honeysuckles, Ivy and Violas.
The selection has been hand-picked to shine all year round, and to bloom with the whole colour spectrum.
According to Biotecture, green wall systems can improve viewers' moods, reduce air pollution and aid biodiversity.
Richard Sabin, Biotecture's managing director, said: “This is a fabulous project.
"We are working with McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford’s construction partner, McLaren, and landscape architects, Applied Landscape Design, to deliver the living wall and have taken on additional nursery space to accommodate the 8,000 or so hydroponic growing panels.”
Peter Corr, centre manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford said: "We’re thrilled to announce that the thousands of plants that will make up our £1.5 million living wall are currently growing and maturing in Biotecture’s nursery.
"The first portion of the wall will be installed in the coming weeks, with the entire 2300 sq. metre living wall ready for guests to enjoy when our £90 million expansion launches in autumn 2019."
The 100,000 sq. ft scheme - one of Ashford Borough Council's 'Big 8' - is expected to create 500 jobs and has already garnered interest from top brands.
New facilities including an events space, food piazza, a £400,000 interactive children’s play area and 725 new car parking spaces will also be delivered.