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Ashford ‘meanwhile’ regeneration scheme gets green light

Planning approval has been granted for a council-owned regeneration project called The Coachworks in Ashford.

Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee last night (16 January) gave the green light to project which will provide a co-working space aimed at start-up businesses, indoor and outdoor event space and a food and drink destination.

The Coachworks scheme is termed a ‘meanwhile’ development and it’s expected that it will have a five-year lifespan, with the long-term plan for the site yet to be decided.

The authority purchased the site in 2014 when it acquired the nearby International House and they say the cost of delivering the project is set at £650,000. In a statement, the council says the site would remain undeveloped without them stepping in.

Carl Turner Architects has been picked by the council to design, deliver and manage the project, which will focus on several derelict industrial buildings in Dover Place, close to the town’s train station.

Stewart Smith, senior development and regeneration manager at Ashford Borough Council said: ‘Drawing on Ashford’s rich history as a centre of trade, these proposals provide a platform for the next generation of cultural and creative innovators. The mixed-use campus provides a variety of work, performance and leisure space for people to enjoy.

‘There is nothing else like this in Ashford and across the region and I’m confident that The Coachworks is going to prove hugely popular and draw people into the town from far and wide.’

The inspiration for The Coachworks name comes from a firm of coachbuilders who were based there for 30 years from the 1960s; Crofords Carriages counted the Royal household and Harrods among its customers and the company still operates from Ashford today.

The Coachworks could be open before the end of 2019. 

NewStart recently reported on the burgeoning trend of ‘meanwhile use’ of properties in London, which experts say can be an agile and low-cost form of development for an area if it’s done well.

Is ‘meanwhile use’ in London a lifeline for creatives or trojan horse for gentrification?

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