Ashford Borough Council has launched a contest to design a £650,000 food hub and start-up office space
The competition invites ‘insightful and creative architect-led teams’ to submit applications for the commission, which will transform a prominent 1,288m² plot next to Ashford International Station.
The land, known as the Island Site, currently contains a four-storey disused corn mill and a large steel portal framed building – formerly home to the Ashford Youth Theatre. This will be converted into a serviced shell and core suitable for a café, bar, food market or delicatessen.
The mill, meanwhile, will be transformed into managed, start-up office space featuring co-working areas, small private offices and meeting areas. The space between the two structures is expected to become a new public garden and events area.
The interim project is part of Ashford’s wider Commercial Quarter regeneration zone. Three shortlisted teams will each receive an honorarium of £1,000 to draw up concept designs following an open-expressions-of-interest round.
According to the brief: ‘The success of the Commercial Quarter is dependent on the council delivering on its promise to establish a place that is well connected and where people will want to come to work and live. While delivery options for the next major phase of development within the Commercial Quarter are being explored, the decision has been taken to deliver an “interim use” for part of the Island Site in the short to medium term of four to five years.
‘The interim proposal is seen as key to simultaneously ensuring the success of Phase 1 of the Commercial Quarter and the council retaining the flexibility it requires to deliver longer-term development which will maximise both the economic benefit and financial return to the borough.’
Ashford is a major communications and retail hub in the centre of Kent. Over the past decade it has witnessed a 14.9 per cent increase in its population, linked to the creation of a new high-speed rail link to London St Pancras.
The Commercial Quarter project aims to revitalise the area surrounding Ashford International Station and includes a new home for Ashford College by HNW Architects, an expansion of RSHP’s Ashford Designer Outlet by Chapman Taylor and a new retail hub named Elwick Place by Guy Holloway Architects.
First round submissions for the latest project should include a completed questionnaire, a short statement of interest and relevant experience, and examples of three relevant projects. Applications from local teams are encouraged and a winner will be announced in early April.
The deadline for applications has been extended to 2.30pm on 23 January.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
Ashford Borough Council
Tel: 01233 330605