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Milligan to create cultural visitor boost for Ashford town centre

Earlier proposal by Ash Sakula Architects for creating a new public square for Ashford on the footprint of the Odeon cinema

Ashford Borough Council has appointed specialist developer, Milligan to help deliver the ambitious Vicarage Lane town centre redevelopment project including MICA as part of the team.

The scheme, which includes the former Mecca bingo hall in the Lower High Street is a proposed mixed use development aiming to deliver quality homes, cultural and performance space, food and drink outlets and workspace to complement the market town's history and heritage.

The council's proposals include the part demolition of the rear of the former bingo hall to reveal an uninterrupted view to the Grade 1 listed St Mary's Church, while retaining the high street frontage of the building to create a multi-use indoor event space.

Explaining why they had chosen to bring in Milligan, Cllr Paul Clokie, Ashford Borough Council's portfolio holder for corporate property, said it had been looking for 'a stand-out performer who was passionate about using the Vicarage lane scheme as a catalyst for town centre regeneration'.

He added:

'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. As we emerge from lock-down 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 am confident that this specialist team will help us take this exciting scheme forward.'

Developer Milligan has a rich pedigree of developing mixed-use projects with inspiring retail and leisure at their heart. It has developed asset-managed or partnered on properties valued at more than £5 billion and has developed over 3 million square feet in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Barcelona and Bilbao as well as operating the retail and leisure at Camden Lock Market.

MICA will lead the design team and provide architectural design services, building on the existing master planning work carried out by Ash Sakula architects and bringing regeneration and planning expertise to evolve the concept design through to a successful planning application.

Director Stuart Cade said:

'MICA is delighted to be selected by the council for the mixed use redevelopment of its historic Vicarage Field. The site and brief provides an extraordinary opportunity to weave a unique development into the town's fabric, reinforcing the Lower High Street.'

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