Published: 06:00, 30 July 2020
| Updated: 12:08, 30 July 2020
Bosses behind an ambitious film studios scheme say they have reached a “brilliant moment” after preparatory works started on the site.
Quinn Estates gained planning permission in April for its huge project on the former Newtown railway works in Ashford.
Diggers have moved onto the 12-acre spot as contractors gear up for the start of the main construction programme next year.
When built, Netflix, Amazon and HBO could take on the studios, which are expected to open in 2022.
Mark Quinn, chief executive at Quinn Estates, says the preparatory works currently being completed will give his team a “big head start” when building work begins in earnest next year.
“It is a brilliant moment,” he told the KentOnline this week.
“For us as a developer, it is a dream project as it involves so many different facets of construction and so many different industries which pushes you to get better.
“We are making it easier for ourselves next year by getting the geotechnical work out of the way now.
“It is preliminary work so we can then get off to a flying start next year.”
Mr Quinn says residents will probably see “five or 10 people” on the site while geotechnical engineers investigate what is beneath the ground’s surface.
“I think the scheme is a game-changer for the town,” he added.
“I think it will change a lot of lives massively for the better and it will create a lot of jobs at a time when people will need them.
“If we start building it next year, it could be in the middle of a recession and it could create up to 1,000 construction jobs.”
The £250m scheme is a joint venture between Quinn Estates, The Creative District Improvement Company (TCDI Co) and funding partner U+I.
Dubbed the Ashford International Studios, a 120-bed hotel is set to be built in an 18-storey tower alongside the four studios.
Quinn Estates will also redevelop the Grade II-listed locomotive sheds for mixed commercial and residential use, including workshops and 300 flats with space for a new Kent Film School.
A rooftop restaurant and a 383-space multi-storey car park are also included in the development, which has been more than three years in the making.
The historic clock tower close to the Newtown railway bridge will be retained at the site, which has been abandoned since the 1980s.