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Elwick Place office plan underneath Picturehouse cinema in Ashford falls through

A developer has rescinded plans to set up an office in a controversial leisure complex.

Elwick Place houses a hotel, Ashford's only town centre cinema and eight units which were originally earmarked for cafés and restaurants.

The unit next to the Picturehouse entrance was set to become an office in a plan that's now been withdrawn
The unit next to the Picturehouse entrance was set to become an office in a plan that's now been withdrawn

Built by developer Stanhope PLC in partnership with Ashford Borough Council, only one eatery and a gym have joined Travelodge and Picturehouse since its launch in December 2018.

Such lack of interest has resulted in it being called a "white elephant" by the ward councillor.

A planning application was submitted in April seeking to use a unit adjoining the Picturehouse entrance as an office.

The change of use, which was set to be discussed at a council planning meeting last Wednesday, would have allowed the unit to be converted into a café or restaurant quickly if space for one was requested.

A report published ahead of the committee's convening recommended permission be granted for the additional use.

Elwick Place opened in late 2018, featuring a cinema and hotel
Elwick Place opened in late 2018, featuring a cinema and hotel

However the plan was withdrawn shortly before the meeting took place, suggesting an office may not be on the cards for Elwick Place.

The site has been effectively shut since March 24, when the Covid-19 lockdown began.

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants were specifically mentioned by Boris Johnson as needing to shut up shop temporarily.

Macknade, which joined the complex in February, has announced it will welcome customers on Wednesday.

Macknade's Elwick Place branch will reopen on Wednesday
Macknade's Elwick Place branch will reopen on Wednesday

It is not known when Snap Fitness, which opened in January, is reopening.

Elwick Place's final tenant, the Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre (AIMREC), pre-emptively closed on March 11 citing the age and health conditions of its volunteers.

It is not known when AIMREC will be reopening.

Although it is yet to open, Afro-Caribbean restaurant Dansaki is set to fill one of the units under the Travelodge.

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