A remarkable transformation

Ashford Borough Council buys former Kent Wool Growers site and vows to breathe new life into the historic location

Prepare for a remarkable transformation as Ashford Borough Council’s Housing development team unveils its latest venture – the acquisition of the iconic former Kent Wool Growers site. Bursting with potential, this historical gem, perfectly situated between the bustling town centre and the vibrant railway station, is set to be reborn.

Envisioned as a pulsating hub at the town’s gateway, the 1.2-hectare site has captured the council’s imagination. Brace yourself for an innovative tapestry of mixed-use homes, buzzing commercial spaces, a dynamic community hub, and abundant green sanctuaries. Bordered by the great Stour river to the east, this space is seamlessly woven into the thriving Commercial Quarter, home to the Connect 38 office building, International House and The Platform at The Coachworks.

This site is more than a piece of land; it’s a slice of Ashford’s vibrant history. With roots stretching back to the 17th Century, when it was known as the Tanyard, this site has weathered the ages, mirroring the town’s evolution. Once graced by Kent Wool Growers, who operated there for nearly a century, the site now awaits rejuvenation after a fire destroyed several of its buildings.

As Cllr Bill Barrett, Portfolio Holder for Homes and Homelessness, puts it, “We are proud of our track record in bringing forward high quality and well-designed social housing developments for the benefit of our residents. The bar has been set high and this scheme delivering much needed housing is going to push those standards even higher.”

The council is partnering with On Architecture, to weave a vision with resounding “green credentials.” Anticipation mounts as the details of this targeted sustainable marvel are poised to be unveiled in the near future.

A director from On Architecture said: “We are looking to create a distinctive architectural style in line with the aims of the local plan to create a gateway to Ashford. We are working with the council to create a sense of identity and are very excited to deliver this placemaking vision and deliver much needed housing at the Tanyard.”

The scheme is proposed to include a mixed-use scheme that also comprises of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments harmonising with luxurious four-bedroom townhouses. Concealed in under crofts beneath the gardens, concealed parking bays await, while communal courtyards and a cultural hub beckon. The exact number of homes remains to be finalised, but it’s certain to be fewer than the previously approved 254 units.

U+I’s approved plans for the site included building three blocks of between six-eight storeys high and a 14 storey residential tower.

A public consultation will be held in early 2024, paving the way for a planning application early in the year. The countdown has begun, and Ashford Borough Council is on a quest to redefine urban living, blending history, innovation, and community.