Council Talk - By Ashford Borough Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson

As has been reported recently the town’s transformation is now gathering momentum with, not one or two, but a handful of significant projects moving forward at a pace. 

Ashford’s Commercial Quarter, which is set to become an important business location not only for Ashford but for the south east, will see the first new office block being started in the next few months, with a number of others likely to come forward thereafter. The Commercial Quarter is just behind International House, opposite Ashford International Station, and will include office space and adequate parking provision. 

I am of course pleased to see so many projects, which have been talked about for some time, now getting underway and I know that this is what makes people sit up and notice. We can however, be quite engrossed in delivering these new projects, but there is also a real need to also ensure that other extremely important matters also receive our serious attention.

One such matter is healthcare in our area and it is imperative that we ensure that our A & E provision at the William Harvey Hospital is not only kept here in our growing Ashford, but is developed and improved.  Our wonderful National Health Service, which is often under so much pressure, needs to be nurtured and cherished. 

I am also pleased to welcome a £30 million private hospital offering state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, which opens in Ashford on 18 February 2016. More than 90 jobs have been created at “One Ashford Hospital”, which is located next to the William Harvey Hospital. This new hospital will have 10 consulting rooms, four operating theatres, four treatment rooms and an MRI imaging suite.  

We are also very conscious of the increased level and frequency of flooding, that has affected many areas across our country in recent times. Our planning policy approach to new development addresses the need for effective and sustainable surface drainage arrangements. This has been most effective and for many years now, new housing developments have been largely unaffected by serious flooding. We will continue to review these policies and will be making even more allowances for the effective handling of increased frequency and level of rainfall.

Other important matters such as affordable housing, superfast broadband for the entire borough, HGV parking in inappropriate locations, protection of our countryside and enforcement against unregulated and unlawful development are just some of the challenges that we have to address and about which I will comment further in the coming months.

So there is significant development and investment coming forward, but with much work to be done. Let’s work together to keep that momentum.