Published: 06:00, 09 May 2020
Film studios being built in Ashford and eyed up by the likes of Netflix and Amazon could be a boon for the town’s house prices, an estate agent has suggested.
The bold Ashford International Studios, approved last month, will see four film studios built on the site of the former Newtown rail works.
Hobbs Parker, based on the Orbital Park in Sevington, has issued its house price predictions in a blog post but - due to the unknown impact of the coronavirus - has showed caution.
The firm’s CEO Roger Lightfoot wrote: “I’ve lived in the Ashford area for almost all of my 56 years and I can say with confidence that I think this is the most exciting thing to happen to our borough in all of those years.
“If I were a gambling man, I’d say that in five years time property prices in and around Ashford will be higher than they are today.
“Although it may be a very uncertain and bumpy road for the next year or two.
“What I can say with certainty, is those good properties in and around Ashford will always be in strong demand.”
However, Alex Davies the managing director of the firm’s estate agent branch, showed more caution in his forecast.
He believes “it is the wider perception that will regenerate so much more than just our old railway works”.
Bosses behind the £250m scheme say Netflix and Amazon are interested in the studios, which will be built alongside flats and a tower featuring a hotel.
At 18 storeys high, the hotel is set to become Ashford’s tallest building.
The project is a joint venture between Quinn Estates, The Creative District Improvement Company and funding partner U+I.
The scheme is estimated to add £100 million a year to Ashford’s economy as well as more than 2,000 full-time jobs.
Mr Davies said: “For decades people have been quick to dismiss Ashford as yet another failed market town but HS1 attracts a new audience who will judge it for what it can offer as a forward-thinking, vibrant and creative town with a strong link to the film industry.”
The studio plan - according to Mr Davies - should in normal times “have a meaningful impact on demand for properties in and around Ashford”, with the thousands of jobs created offering salaries that “are typically above the national average”.
He added: “I would anticipate this would drive demand for the new higher-end developments in Ashford itself as well as for traditional property in the surrounding villages.
“You would expect property prices to rise above the regional average.
“However, these are not normal times, and it will be a brave, foolhardy even, estate agent that claimed he or she could predict future property prices.
“I’m not going to be drawn yet.”
One development that could take advantage of this is the Klondyke Works development of 93 flats, for which the groundwork has begun opposite the Newtown rail works.
In response to Hobbs Parker’s prediction, Matthew Harris, of Samuel Peto Way close to the former rail works, expressed concern for existing residents in the Newtown area.
He said: “The development of the train shed into flats and the film studio may well have a positive impact on the house prices in the older part of the Newtown works development, which as a home owner is good news.
“However, I am aware that many of my neighbours are either part owners or renters, who will most likely be hit with an increased level of rent and could be priced out of the area.
“I also think the hotel tower will be so oversized and imposing that it will potentially have a detrimental impact on house prices in the older part of Newtown near the station.
“The long forgotten residents of Newtown and South Willesborough are left in the literal shadows, either forced to move due to rent increases or forced to stay in an unsellable house.”
More by this authorCharlie Harman