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MICA wins Ashford Vicarage Lane contest

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MICA Architects has won a competition for a major mixed-use town centre regeneration project in Ashford, Kent

The London practice – working with specialist developer Milligan and project manager AECOM – was chosen from an undisclosed shortlist to take on the estimated £850,000 contract.

The project for Ashford Borough Council will regenerate a former bingo hall and car park located on Vicarage Lane close to St Mary the Virgin Church in the centre of the town.

The scheme will part-demolish the building to open up a view of the neighbouring church and create a new 120-capacity events venue; a public square and footpath; 61 residential units, and shops, restaurants and cafés. Initial proposals for the scheme have already been developed to RIBA Stage 2 by Ash Sakula Architects.

Paul Clokie, Ashford Borough Council councillor and portfolio holder for corporate property, said: ‘We believe this scheme will help rejuvenate Ashford, enhance our cultural offer, create significant employment opportunities and help attract inward investment for the benefit of local communities.

‘High Streets were facing challenging times even before the coronavirus pandemic sent our town centres into lockdown.

‘As we emerge from lockdown there is an even more compelling need for our High Streets to reinvent themselves and what they offer. The council is committed to revitalising Ashford’s town centre and I’m confident that this specialist team will help us take this exciting scheme forward.’

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 the HS1 rail link to London St Pancras.

Last year Carl Turner Architects won a competition to design a £650,000 food hub and business centre in the town. The project has transformed a prominent 1,288m² plot next to Ashford International Station and a short distance from the bingo hall on Vicarage Lane.

The latest project, planned to complete in 2023, aims to transform the town centre into a ‘thriving’ environment with enjoyable experiences for residents and visitors at ‘daytime, evening and at night’. Bids were evaluated 70 per cent on quality and 30 per cent on price.

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