Ashford's A Portas Pilot

Ashford has been chosen as one of 15 new 'Portas Pilot' areas which will get a share of £1.5million to reinvigorate their town centres.

They were among 370 which applied for the cash following a report by retail expert Mary Portas into the state of the country's high street.

Margate and Dartford were announced as part of the scheme in the first round of bids earlier this year.

Ashford's bid was highlighted for its innovative proposals and the way it embraced new technology as well as providing a good case study for other towns to follow.

Plans for the area include using more innovative ideas to revitalise the market and make it a destination point for shoppers, developing a virtual high street and smartphone app to guide shoppers through the town, and creating stronger links between the town centre and the popular Ashford Designer Outlet.
Leader of Ashford Borough Council Cllr Peter Wood said: "This is excellent news, and we are delighted and proud that Ashford has been selected as a Portas Pilot town.
"Our town is bursting with potential, and our hard-working businesses and residents deserve the support – and the national recognition – that this scheme will bring.

The bid was accompanied by 50 letters of support from local businesses, and a petition backing the bid signed by 165 town centre retailers. The bid’s Facebook page has 306 likes, and Ashford’s YouTube video received more than 1,800 views.

Ashford MP Damian Green said: "This is great news for Ashford and shows what we can do when the whole town pulls together. We must use this as a springboard to take the town centre to a new level."