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Kent Wool Growers site in Ashford sold for £3m

By Dan Wright

The former Kent Wool Growers site in Ashford is set to be turned into 160 homes after developers bought the prominent spot for £3m.

London-based regeneration specialists U&I signed a deal for the Tannery Lane land late last month – acquiring the warehouses, shop and office building previously used by the adminstration-hit farming retailer.

Outline planning permission to transform the 2.9-acre spot into 155 apartments and four town houses was granted by Ashford Borough Council three years ago.

The former Kent Wool Growers site has been bought
The former Kent Wool Growers site has been bought

Chartered surveyor Matthew Rothery, who works for Savills and completed the sale, says the land attracted a lot of interest from developers.

“We had a number of firms bidding to us trying to get it,” he said.

“It was very close but U&I came out on top.

How the site could look
How the site could look

“The interest shows there is a significant demand for land in that area of Ashford and people are realising that the whole area will lift in the next two to five years.”

In 2015, councillors gave the green light to an outline hybrid application submitted by AXA-REIM and DMI Properties Ltd to demolish all of the existing buildings except the Grade II listed Whist House.

They wanted to build 155 apartments over three to six-and-a-half storeys as well as four town houses on the site.

Whist House will be retained
Whist House will be retained
The Grade II listed Whist House
The Grade II listed Whist House

The planning permission – which was granted in February 2015 – expires this month but it is expected U&I will submit a fresh application based on a similar number of homes.

The 2015 scheme included plans to install a bridge close to Whist House over the river.

Mr Rothery added: “The land had a guide price of £2.5m, but it went over that and sold for about £3m. It will be interesting to see what U&I do with the whole site, as it could be a lovely spot right by the river.

160 homes are proposed
160 homes are proposed

“The Grade II listed residential building could also be made really nice.”

KWG, the farmer-owned co-operative, went into administration last August following a downturn in trading . It was set up in Ashford in 1920 with 73 members but had expanded to support more than 4,000.

The company, which employed 48 staff, offered a variety of services to farmers and the countryside, selling clothing, footwear, shooting accessories and vet medicines.

The 2.9-acre plot
The 2.9-acre plot

Three businesses – Greensleeves County Clothing, Ashford Gun Room and the British Wool Board – are still trading at the site next to the Royal Mail sorting office, but will be moving soon.

Andy Neshet, who owns Greensleeves, will open at the Evegate Business Park in Smeeth on Monday, March 5.

He said: “It is sad that KWG shut and we always knew something was going to happen with the site, but I want to continue supplying the area with quality clothing.

The buildings from the river
The buildings from the river

“Ashford is one of those developing areas and development of land like the KWG site was always going to happen.

“I was clothing manager at KWG for 10 years and I’m looking forward to going to Evegate.”

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