​As the new year begins to officially set in, we take a look back at our top stories from last year and just some of the reasons why 2016 will be such a great time for Ashford.

As foot fall reports continue to see growing numbers of people visiting Ashford each day, more and more business are choosing to set up shop in Ashford town.

2015 welcomed some friendly new faces to our High Street, including independent businesses Tots Unlimited & Buttons & Beaus and also MC Personnel who opened their third recruitment branch. Kelly Andrews Hair opened a shiny new salon and S&L Lite Bites opened their doors to hungry customers on Bank Street.

The County Square Shopping Centre welcomed new businesses such as The Works and The Floor Store and we’ve also seen Ashford businesses move from their premises to larger units within the town centre, including Emporia Fabric & Crafts & Bombay Street, who grew from a street-food and snack stop to a family-run restaurant.

Last year the Council introduced a free parking scheme to Ashford town centre, helping boost afternoon and Sunday trade within the town. The scheme included select Council car parks and ran throughout the year with further incentives put in place for shoppers over the Easter and Christmas periods.

Click here to find out how you can take advantage of the free parking scheme.

Since securing the purchase of the Park Mall Shopping Centre back in June last year, regeneration plans to revive the centre and fill empty units were evidently in full swing.

Cosmetic improvements were made to the overall look of the centre and empty units were quickly filled with independent traders, including the Made In Ashford collective, Revelation St Mary’s, Emporia Fabric & Crafts, Happy & Glorious, Glam R Us Accessories and Recursive Media, who made the move from Brighton to Ashford at the end of last year.

To read more about the changes the Park Mall has undergone in recent months, read the blog Park Mall Improvements & Where We Are Now.

Despite it being a rather wet and windy day, last Summer’s 20th Create Festival hosted four stages which showcased music from Revelation St Mary’s, Right Track Music School and other local artists, with 80’s star Adam Ant headlining the main stage.

The Create Festival will be back in 2016 with a bang on the 24th July, full line-up to be confirmed closer to the date.

To see more from the day, take a look at the festival in pictures.

​Ashford College has been delivering successful programmes for years but the buildings have needed updating for a long time. This year saw the start of visible progress on the new campus site on the corner of Station Road and Elwick Road.

Demolition of some of the old buildings marked the beginning of the work to develop the site into a modern and contemporary working space for over a thousand students and staff.

Take a look at our documentation of the demolition works to the new college campus site.

The former Ashford quarry turned country park, located next to the Julie Rose Stadium, now offers a restored picturesque space for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The park welcomed visitors to its official launch back in September and now offers water-based activities for the whole family and beautiful accessible county trails.

Click here to see more from the official open day.

News of the exciting and ambitions plans for a state-of-the-art brewery in Ashford was welcomed with open arms by the Council and local people last year. 2016 will see further developments on this project and hopes to see this unique proposal from Curious Drinks become a reality.

Read more about the proposals on the blog.

The exciting plans to develop the old cattle market location on Elwick Road were unanimously approved in December by the Ashford Borough Council planning committee.

The proposals included a six screen cinema, a family hotel and space for new restaurants and bars. The second phase for the development, which will incorporate up to 200 new residential apartments, will be taken to planning committee early this year.

To find out more about the proposals for Elwick Place, have a read of the latest blog here on loveashford.

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​<b>Business reaches new highs in Ashford Town Centre.<b>

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