Since securing the purchase of the Park Mall Shopping Centre back in June 2015, the regeneration team at Ashford Borough Council have been working hard to revitalise the once popular shopping destination.
The purchase was made with the hope of filling empty units within the centre with interesting and independent retailers; encouraging shoppers back in to Park Mall with a new offer not seen before on Ashford's high street.
Significant changes have already taken place around the centre and a new identity has taken shape.
Much needed cosmetic work was implemented by the Town Centre Action Team (T-CAT), including the painting of the public benches, access gates and attention to the flower beds and baskets. A significant amount of work was also carried out to the interiors of some of the units that had been empty for years and where in great need of TLC.
Six out of the then eleven empty units were filled in the first few months with new independent traders, including Emporia Fabric & Craft, the collective Made In Ashford and Revelation Ashford who relocated their main office from St Mary’s Church to office space above Emporia.
Since the opening of Made In Ashford in late October 2015, other independent traders have joined the centre; The Record Store, who have recently expanded from the kiosks outside of Wilko to a larger unit nearby, and Recursive Media, who relocated to Ashford from their office based in Brighton, East Sussex.
In early July this year the once busy corner-cafe which was left empty for a number of years was taken over by family-run business The Little Teapot. The opening of the new tea room bought back a much needed buzz, serving cream teas & homemade cakes to shoppers increasing footfall and dwell time in the centre.
Want to keep reading? Read about the latest business venture to join the independent-led centre.