Published: 10:11, 28 November 2019
| Updated: 10:52, 28 November 2019
As work to transform a group of derelict buildings in Ashford draws to an end, we take a look back at how the site has been developed ahead of the official launch next weekend.
Plans for a mixed-use campus, containing a food, leisure and business hub surfaced last year, as Ashford Borough Council (ABC) announced plans for its Coachworks project in Dover Place.
The scheme involved renovating three disused buildings - which were once home to Ashford Youth Theatre and Croford Coachbuilders - at a cost of £850,000.
Council bosses had previously said the development would only have a five-year lifespan as the land is due to become the second phase of the Commercial Quarter in later years, but the time period could be extended if it is a success.
Designed by Carl Turner Architects, the development has a number of quirky features including street food stalls in shipping containers, co-working office space for start-up businesses and a bar which transforms into a lantern at night.
Construction workers have been busily working on the the disused coach-building workshop over the course of the year - with The Event Yard being the first to welcome visitors in the summer.
The outdoor entertainment area is used for vintage clothes sales, food markets, acoustic music events, council-run functions and cinema and live sports screenings.
Months later, bosses announced that The Platform had been completed.
Freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses moved into newly-built office space last month.
The business hub is billed as offering flexible, co-working space, offices and meeting rooms for up to 200 people - which bosses say is the first of its kind in Ashford.
Work to convert The Hot House has now been completed, and an eye-catching mezzanine level has been installed inside the 5,5000 sq ft building.
The roof which sheltered the former Ashford Youth Theatre has been dismantled and replaced with translucent cladding - to enable the building to transform into a lantern at night.
The opening of the mixed-use leisure complex was originally planned for Halloween, but work to construct The Hot House food and drink destination was delayed.
All three hubs are now set to officially launch on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 to coincide with the council's Illuminites event.
An ABC spokesman said: "The Hothouse will be open in time to serve a range of food and drink to Ashfordians packing into Dover Place to enjoy the dazzling Illuminites spectacle.
"On Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December, people will be able to enjoy a five minute digital mapping projection on the side of International House, celebrating Ashford’s rich heritage and history.
"The shows will be at 4.30, 5.30 and 6.30pm on both days.
"The car park at Dover Place will be closed for people to watch safely."
Coachworks bosses plan to open The Hot House bar from 6pm tomorrow to ensure everything is running smoothly ahead of the launch next weekend.
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