Published: 13:33, 21 September 2021
| Updated: 08:17, 22 September 2021
A car park in Ashford is set to suddenly close tomorrow.
The Park Mall car park will permanently shut from 5pm on Wednesday, after its running agent decided to cease operations on the site.
The news was broken to users via a sign taped to parking machines on both floors overnight, asking that all vehicles be removed by 4.59pm, with the NCP County Square car park listed as the nearest alternative.
An Ashford Borough Council (ABC) spokesman said: “Following a financial restructuring of its car park portfolio, NCP has decided that it no longer intends to run the Park Mall shopping centre car parking facilities.
“We are currently in discussions with NCP and we will be able to give further details shortly.”
This comes less than a year after the 300-space car park was snapped up by Ashford Borough Council (ABC), passing from the care of Chariot Investment Holdings for an undisclosed fee in December 2020.
Along with the rest of the shopping centre, it had been earmarked for redevelopment in a council plan the month before.
The council-run Edinburgh Road car park next door to the centre remains open.
It has a total of 289 spaces including 24 disabled bays. The hourly rate is £1.20, with a £5.50 charge for over four hours.
The hourly rate at the closing Park Mall car park is £1.60, with four to 24 hours costing £5.60.
Also run by NCP, the County Square car park charges £2.50 an hour, with six to 24 hours costing £10.
The "reset" plan released in the wake of the pandemic highlighted an "investment corridor" stretching from the International station to Park Mall.
It included plans to "transform" Bank Street, and the continued redevelopment of Elwick Place.
In the document, town centre regeneration manager Hannah Clayton-Peck mentioned "suggested plans" that the Mall will "one day become a new residential community within the heart of the town".
"In this instance, independent businesses will be offered opportunities to move to the Bank Street area," she said.
"The residential offer will house a variety of different people and become key footfall generators in their own right which will, in turn, will support the transformed Bank Street area and beyond.
"At Park Mall, the provision of a new multi-storey car park or utilising the existing one will be explored as a means of providing more footfall generation and to help anchor and deliver the aspirations surrounding the Bank Street area."
Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson had previously said that the car park would "give us return in the interim, but will be very necessary for us in the longer term in terms of the town centre redevelopment".