McArthurGlen, Europe’s leading designer outlets group, today received planning approval from Ashford Borough Council for an expansion of its Ashford Designer Outlet to create one of the UK’s flagship fashion and homeware destinations offering shoppers year-round savings.
The centre, which is within walking distance of Ashford International rail station in Kent and just a 37 minute train ride from London, plans to open its new extension in 2018.
This second phase of construction will enable McArthurGlen to add 38 new luxury and premium brands to the existing 80 names– including Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger -already trading in the famous tented shopping centre designed by Sir Richard Rogers.
An additional 500 jobs will be created to bring Ashford Designer Outlet’s total workforce to 1,500. In order to realise the new extension, 170 construction staff will also be employed.
McArthurGlen has committed to the Council that it will fund a shuttle bus linking the outlet, the town centre and the international train station at weekends and during the school holidays. The company is also providing funds for the enhancement of pedestrian and cycle routes from the station.
Gary Bond, McArthurGlen’s Managing Director of Development, said: “With many major brands wanting to open at Ashford Designer Outlet, we are delighted to have obtained the support of Ashford Borough Council to deliver an even more compelling shopping experience to our customers in the Kent and London areas and the substantial number of tourists who visit.
“We are hugely excited about the opportunities that Ashford Phase 2 will bring to the town and to the wider county. We are now focused on the final stages required to enable building works to start next year.”
Further enhancing Ashford Designer Outlet customers’ experience, McArthurGlen is planning to install six new restaurants and cafes in the centre together with a new events space and children’s play area. A new car park will be built to provide 725 more parking spaces.
Befitting Kent’s reputation as the ‘Garden of England’, huge vertical green walls will feature in the new centre’s modern, airy design that will take Ashford Designer Outlet’s retail space to a total of 285,000 square feet.
The expansion of Ashford Designer Outlet is one of eight major projects recently highlighted by Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council as key employment and economic drivers in the development of the area.
McArthurGlen developed and manages Ashford Designer Outlet, which it originally opened in 2000.
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are pleased to approve plans for the Designer Outlet expansion, which will transform it into one of the UK’s premier outlet centres. The expansion will bring nearly 40 stores including more of the best names in luxury, premium and designer fashion as well as creating a further 700 jobs, enhancing the whole shopping experience and providing stronger links with the town centre.
Clarkson adds, “At the same time we are working hard to make sure that our town centre prospers. The construction of Ashford College, which is now underway, and the recent planning application for the new cinema, restaurants and hotel at Elwick Place are two good indications of the progress we are making as part of a wider set of plans to see a renaissance of our town centre, which will benefit the whole borough.”