Designer Outlet confirm construction will begin in January
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford have confirmed that McLaren Construction has been appointed on the much anticipated 100,000 sq ft. extension to the centre ahead of building works commencing later this month. This will be Ashford Designer Outlet's first extension since opening in 2000.
Since announcing plans to expand in 2014, the centre’s popularity has continued to soar now welcoming over 3.6 million guests every year, with increasing numbers of London visitors and European and international tourists. Scheduled to open in Autumn 2019, the extension will deliver up to 50 additional premium and luxury brands, a new food piazza, 725 further parking spaces as well as a new events space and redesigned children’s play area.
Generating over 500 jobs, the expansion will also include a complimentary shuttle bus linking the Ashford Designer Outlet, the town centre and the international train station at peak weekends and during the school holidays. McArthurGlen is also providing funds for the enhancement of pedestrian and cycle routes from the station.
Peter Corr, Centre Manager at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford, said:
“After four years of meticulous planning we’re incredibly excited to confirm that building works on the new extension will commence this January.
“Over the next 18 months we will be investing £90 million into the centre to elevate the whole shopping experience for our guests, while also working hard to ensure our visitor experience remains memorable and enjoyable during this time.
“Once the extension is complete Ashford Designer Outlet will become one of the UK’s flagship fashion, food and homeware destinations, with over 130 stores, restaurants and cafes.“
The expansion will also include the installation of Europe’s largest living wall structure and many of the stores in the new phase will be clad in tens of thousands of plants, all stacked vertically.
Several new and exciting premium and luxury brands are already signed up to join Ashford Designer Outlet when it opens next year. Peter Corr said: “While it’s too early to reveal any names, we are committed to expanding the extensive range of brands already on offer.
“In the past three years alone we’ve introduced highly sought-after brands including Calvin Klein, All Saints, Diesel, Cath Kidston, Osprey London, Jack Wills, Timberland and Abercrombie & Fitch.”
The expansion of Ashford Designer Outlet is one of eight major projects highlighted by Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council as key employment and economic drivers in the development of the area.
Work starts on Ashford International platforms for new international trains
Work has begun to prepare Ashford International’s high-speed platforms for new international trains, including e320 Eurostar trains, which will safeguard direct high-speed international services from Ashford.
Network Rail is already installing new signalling equipment to allow Eurostar’s e320 trains - and potentially any other operator’s next generation high speed trains - to access the station. Now the firm’s engineers are updating the international platforms to match European-width trains.
The work is part of a £10m project being delivered by Network Rail and backed by Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council, with funding coming from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund.
Network Rail’s senior commercial scheme sponsor, Mark Ellerby, said: “When Ashford International was rebuilt in the 1990s, the platforms used by international trains were not built to full European standards, because the Eurostars of that era ran on normal GB tracks.
“The work we are doing with new signalling equipment and the platforms will future-proof the town’s station and preserve its status as part of Europe’s high speed network – one of only four stations in the country to have that honour.
“High speed rail and links to Europe have given Ashford a huge boost over the past 21 years and we are pleased to be working with Eurostar and local authorities to keep that going.”
The first of Eurostar’s new e320 trains is set to call at Ashford from April, using the amended platforms and the signalling system.
Mary Walsh, Director of Communications, Eurostar, said: “The upgrades at Ashford International will allow even more of our customers to benefit from the comfort and style of our e320 trains. With more spacious surroundings, free wi-fi and over 300 hours of entertainment available through the Eurostar app, our e320 trains transform the on board experience.”