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Hotel plans revealed for Ashford town centre as six shops face demolition

Bold plans have emerged for a 92-bed hotel, bar and restaurant in Ashford town centre.

Developers want to demolish a row of shops in New Rents and construct a four-storey building in their place.

The operator of the hotel is not yet known, but six shops will be demolished to make way for it
The operator of the hotel is not yet known, but six shops will be demolished to make way for it

Six shops are set to go to make way for the scheme, including the HomePlus Furniture site which only opened in the former Argos unit last month.

Game, PDSA, Betfred and British Heart Foundation are also earmarked for demolition, as well as the former Pet Essentials store.

The operator of the hotel is not yet known, but it will offer three to four-star accommodation.

Ten flats are also included in the development, which will be accessed via Drum Lane.

Parking will not be provided on site for hotel guests, but bosses say there is an agreement in place with the operators of the County Square car park which will allow visitors to use that facility.

Six shops in New Rents - from HomePlus to Game next to the former M&S - face demolition
Six shops in New Rents - from HomePlus to Game next to the former M&S - face demolition

Twelve parking spaces are proposed on the site for residents living in the flats.

Architect Guy Hollaway - who designed the scheme on behalf of applicant SPPF Ltd - says the development will "complement the high street".

"It was a great shame when Argos closed," he told KentOnline.

"But the whole nature of the high street is changing now and we are having to think very carefully about how we can change it for the future.

"And if we can create a new hotel for the centre of Ashford, then that would be amazing.

How the site looked earlier this year before HomePlus moved into the former Argos
How the site looked earlier this year before HomePlus moved into the former Argos
How the new 92-bed hotel in Ashford town centre could look from the high street
How the new 92-bed hotel in Ashford town centre could look from the high street

"It would encourage people to stay in the centre of Ashford, enhancing its historical core and creating jobs."

Developers say the ground floor of the building will form the reception area for the hotel as well as the bar and restaurant.

The first and second floors of the unit will be exclusively for hotel use, with the third floor earmarked for mixed hotel and residential, and the fourth floor exclusively for residential use.

A health spa and one "quality retail unit" have also been included in the scheme to "further diversify the offer".

The bar and restaurant will be open for the "core business hours" and into the evening, providing a "quality family restaurant".

HomePlus Furniture opened its New Rents store for the first time last month
HomePlus Furniture opened its New Rents store for the first time last month
An artist's impression of the planned development
An artist's impression of the planned development

Mr Hollaway has already designed scores of developments in Ashford, including the Elwick Place scheme and Curious Brewery.

"This is very different to what we have done in Ashford before," he added.

"It is referencing more of the historical aspects of the town - the opposite to a lot of the other schemes.

"I think it will be really interesting to create something that people can go to and enjoy - they won't have to stay at the hotel to go to the destination restaurant."

The former Pet Essentials store is one of the shops facing demolition
The former Pet Essentials store is one of the shops facing demolition
Inside the new HomePlus store, which is facing demolition
Inside the new HomePlus store, which is facing demolition

Elsewhere in Ashford, a 120-room Hampton by Hilton hotel is being constructed in Victoria Road.

Demolition has already started on the previous HomePlus site in Beaver Road, which has been bought by Ashford Borough Council's property company.

To view the application which has been submitted to Ashford Borough Council, visit www.ashford.gov.uk and search for the 20/00947/AS reference.

The deadline for public comments is Friday, August 21.

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