Published: 10:07, 19 July 2018
| Updated: 10:12, 19 July 2018
A new multi-storey car park offering 500 spaces over five floors could be built in the town centre.
Ashford Borough Council (ABC) wants to build the structure on the existing Station Road car park behind the bowling alley.
Council bosses need to find more capacity as parking spaces have already been lost in Dover Place and the temporary Elwick Place car park opposite the Ashford College is earmarked for development.
The authority's cabinet has now agreed to release £190,000 so the council can help move the Station Road project forward.
Cabinet member Cllr Brad Bradford, portfolio holder for community safety and wellbeing, said: "People often associate a multi-storey car park with thick concrete walls, but this new one will be modern, well-ventilated and a nice place.
"We need the extra space as we are going to lose parking at Dover Place and Elwick Road.
"We are not going to stick a lump of concrete there - it will be nice and modern."
Cllr Bradford has visited a newly built multi-storey car park in West London and says the Station Road site will be colourful.
He added: "I am really pleased we went to see the car park.
"Our one won't be a concrete bunker as when you clad car parks, it is very easy to put a design on it.
"We have the ability to put whatever we want on the side of the car park; I will be encouraging something that looks brilliant.
"I fully support the necessary preparatory work being undertaken to turn this proposal into reality."
The existing Station Road car park offers 108 spaces, but Cllr Bradford expects the multi-storey to go over five storeys with about 500 spaces.
A feasibility study aimed at maximising the number of spaces at the site will now be carried out by ABC.
The council says the number of spaces the building could accommodate may be restricted due to "insufficient traffic capacity being available at the exiting Station Road junction".
But Cllr Graham Galpin, portfolio holder for corporate property, added: “This is a vital piece in the jigsaw of Ashford’s revitalisation and regeneration.
"New parking provision is needed to accommodate new residents, visitors and businesses as the town continues to transform.
"A multi-storey car park also gives flexibility for the next phases of regeneration.”
The Elwick Road temporary car park currently offers 110 spaces, while Dover Place has 180.
Dover Place has already had its capacity reduced following the construction of the first Commercial Quarter phase, and it is earmarked for further development "as the market matures", according to ABC.
The temporary Elwick Road car park will be built on as part of the development in the road.
In a report prepared for last week's cabinet meeting, ABC officers said: "A multi-storey car park has the potential to grow car parking capacity within the town centre and will offset against the potential loss of circa 290 spaces over the next few years.
"The need to start planning for replacement parking was recognised last year and the council engaged the services of design consultants to look at potential sites in and around the town centre, on which a multi-storey car park could be constructed.
"The resulting report identified the existing Station Road car park as the most suitably located and economical option."
Full story in this week's Kentish Express, out today.
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