Ashford Borough Council have granted consent for the €286.5m (£250m) Ashford International Film Studios. According to the developers behind the scheme, the ambitious regeneration of a derelict railway works will put the town on the map as a key UK hub for the creative industries, boosted further by fast connections to London and Europe from the adjacent international station - with Amazon and Netflix among a number of global streaming giants poised to back the scheme.
Cllr Neil Shorter, portfolio holder for planning, said: “I would like to thank members of the Planning Committee and council officers for ensuring last night’s ground breaking meeting went smoothly. I know that a great deal of effort has gone into testing the processes and the technology so I am grateful to everyone working together to make this happen. There was a long and detailed debate on the merits of the proposals, which is right and proper, given the significant nature of the application and I am pleased that the committee decided to permit them. The TV and film studios will bring significant benefits to Ashford in terms of investment and job creation and will play a key role in our economy’s future recovery.”
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “This development will be one of the most important economic drivers for the borough in the next few years and demonstrates the confidence that investors continue to have in Ashford. These exciting proposals involve finding a new use for one of the longest listed buildings in the country, which is of significant historical value but have been left to decay. This development will sensitively ensure our proud railway heritage is recognised, while transforming a brownfield site which has laid dormant for many years into a Film and TV Studio hub together with a hotel, serviced apartments, conferencing facility and a health club. Not only will this development put Ashford on the map nationally and internationally, it will also create sought after film studio space, provide thousands of jobs and make the town a hub for the creative arts industry, which is set to grow significantly in the future.”
The developers hope to deliver 240,000ft² of dedicated production space within two years, with a target date of 2022 set for the launch of Ashford International Studios, supporting the creation of 2,000 jobs and a major new creative hub for the UK. Four new build film studios will be equipped with the highest acoustic and lighting specifications. The project’s master developer Quinn Estates, working with its funding partner U+I, and operator The Creative District Improvement Company, alongside award-winning architects Hollaway, have spent more than three years developing the project.
Quinn Estates will also deliver a 120-bed hotel and repurpose Grade II listed locomotive sheds for mixed commercial and residential use, including workshops and 300 apartments with space for a new Kent Film School, in partnership with local universities and colleges. A roof-top restaurant and a 383-space multi-storey car park are also incorporated into the development.