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Quinn Estates reveals plan for builders' merchant on former Houchin site in Ashford

A prolific developer is hoping to demolish the site of an historic aviation manufacturer which has been unused in six years.

Houchin's Ashford workshop stopped operations in December 2014, forcing the loss of 47 jobs.

The site closed in 2014
The site closed in 2014

Many of those had worked there for their entire careers, but were left unemployed when the global company's only UK site shut its doors in March 2015 - ending more than 70 years at the Hilton Road site on the Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate site.

Now Quinn Estates hopes to demolish the structure and replace it with a 1,458 sq metre builders' merchant.

Alongside the main building - which will act as open storage for materials as well as an HGV parking and turning area - will be smaller buildings for offices and a ground floor warehouse.

Amongst these buildings will be a trading counter for smaller goods like nails and hand tools.

The proposal also features 24 standard parking spaces, four longer parking bays and storage racks for 10 bikes.

How the site could look under Quinn Estates' plan
How the site could look under Quinn Estates' plan

In a planning application submitted to Ashford Borough Council, the developer notes the builders’ merchant will be operated by a "national operator".

One document attached to the application says: "Many customers will take their vehicles to the item being collected rather than park in a designated parking area and have the material brought to them.

"Therefore, the health and safety of visitors has to be an important consideration in the layout of the yard.

"A unit of this size will employ 15 staff; eight will be “outside” staff and seven people will work in the office.

"Finally, the replacement of existing low-quality buildings with new buildings that will be more energy efficient is a sustainability benefit that counts in favour of the proposed development."

A previous planning application for the site, approved in 2017, never came to fruition
A previous planning application for the site, approved in 2017, never came to fruition
The site is on the Cobbs Wood estate
The site is on the Cobbs Wood estate

Customers are stated as large companies, smaller construction jobs and members of the public.

Working in the developers' favour is an application for the site from 2017, which was approved with a use and size similar to the new proposed business.

Quinn Estates was also behind that scheme, but the development of new storage and retail units never went ahead.

To view the new application, search 20/00365/AS on Ashford Borough Council's planning portal.

Houchin had occupied the site since 1945
Houchin had occupied the site since 1945
The Houchin site will be demolished if the plan gets the green light
The Houchin site will be demolished if the plan gets the green light

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