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Ashford: The Range set to open next to John Lewis after Bunnings plan falls through

By Georgia Woolf

The Range is set to open a new store after plans for a huge Bunnings DIY shop were abandoned.

Bosses hope to build the 35,000 sq ft homeware store on land next to John Lewis in Ashford at the so-called Drovers Retail Park.

Developer Castle City Estates had submitted plans for the country's first purpose-built Bunnings store in March, but replaced the Australian firm with The Range when Bunnings bosses pulled out of the UK market.

The Range store will be Ashford's first
The Range store will be Ashford's first

A drive-thru Costa Coffee, vets and five other shops are now proposed on the estate, which will be built close to the Drovers roundabout off Fougères Way if approved.

In a planning application submitted to Ashford Borough Council (ABC), bosses say The Range will offer homeware at affordable prices.

On behalf of applicant Castle City Estates, agent Indigo Planning said: "Given the uncertainty over the potential DIY unit with Bunnings, the applicants have agreed terms with The Range.

A map of the site
A map of the site

"It is a national comparison goods retailer with more than 140 stores nationwide, selling predominantly bulky goods and focussing primarily on home furniture and homewares.

"The Range is a mid-price home and garden products store, drawing together everything that could be needed for the home at affordable prices.

How the retail park could look
How the retail park could look

"It has been described as the ‘working man’s John Lewis’."

ABC's planning committee is set to wave through the scheme when it meets next Wednesday after the plan was recommended for approval by council officers.

The applicants - who say the developemt will become a homewares hub if built - added: "The Range does not have any town centre store because of the retailer’s space requirements mean that there are very few appropriate opportunities.

The proposed site is next to John Lewis
The proposed site is next to John Lewis

"In reality, The Range is probably a better fit with the proposed homewares hub than Bunnings.

"The impact of replacing Bunnings with The Range and a further bulky goods unit is not significant."

Access to the site would be from the existing traffic light controlled junction off Fougères Way, which currently leads to John Lewis.

How the Bunnings store would have looked
How the Bunnings store would have looked
Six shops are planned - plus a vets and Costa Coffee
Six shops are planned - plus a vets and Costa Coffee

The land was previously earmarked for a park and ride, but the plan never materialised.

Does Ashford need a new homeware store? Leave your comments below.

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