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Newtown Works in Ashford, Kent

A mixed-use town centre regeneration project offering world-class film studios, apartments and commercial space at a heritage site next to Ashford International Station.

This scheme regenerates a former railway yard into 302 residential apartments, film studios, a hotel, retail and commercial space, and repurposes a number of heritage buildings. The opportunity is suitable for a land purchase, turnkey product, build to rent or equity investors with an appetite for the mixed-use property development.

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Location:

Ashford, Kent

Investment type:

Capital investment - real estate

Sector:

(Greener buildings, Real estate, Mixed use, Residential, Offices, Retail, leisure & creative)

Project promoter:

Quinn Estates

Scale:

£190 million

Planning status:

Full planning consent

Time to Final Investment Decision (FID):

0-6 months

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Simon Sweetinburgh

Senior Investment Specialist

Contact the opportunity lead

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Sector and market opportunity

The Newtown Works proposals support the UK government’s policies to restore and repurpose heritage assets, and to provide additional film and tv studio spaces in the UK.

The project includes:

  • 302 residential units in converted engine sheds
  • 20,000 m2 (200,000 square feet) purpose-built film and TV studio complex
  • 9,000 m2 (90,000 square feet) of commercial space
  • a media village for supply chain or other media businesses
  • a 120-bed hotel with conferencing and event space
  • 62 serviced apartments
  • multi-storey car park
  • restaurants and retail

Location

The site is in the centre of Ashford in Kent, a town that has already undergone significant regeneration. Newtown Works will sit next to the international railway station and the successful McArthur Glen retail outlet.

With commercial and residential property values around two thirds that of London, but fast and easy access to the capital, Kent has long attracted talent supporting the film and TV sector The proposed mix of uses for this development reflects this.

Connectivity

Ashford is less than 40 minutes from London via high-speed train and 2 hours from Paris using Eurostar.

Kent is serviced by 3 major motorways – the M2, M25 and M20 - with more miles of motorway than any other county in the UK. This provides easy access to London and its international airports.

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing will further ease traffic flow between London and Kent.

Ashford and the surrounding areas offer film and TV creatives a diverse choice of filming locations.

Local talent and skills

Over 6,000 businesses with skills to support the film and TV sectors are within 90 minutes of Ashford. These include pre-production, production, post-production and distribution companies.  The area has the largest concentration of Film & TV businesses outside of London. 

The wider Kent area is home to a diverse, high-quality film and television supply chain. This includes special effects masters like ER Productions and model manufacturing experts like Total Machining Solutions.

Maidstone TV studios is the UK’s largest independent high-definition TV broadcast facility. It’s located within a 30-minute drive of Newtown Works.

Research and expertise

Institutions which are currently active in the area and will be available to support the opportunity once it is realised include: The Creative District Improvement Company  The University of Creative Arts, providing illustration and animation and TV production courses  Canterbury Christ Church, providing drama and performing arts courses  University of Kent, providing drama, theatre and script writing courses  * Jasmin Vardimon Company, an Ashford-based education programme across varied dance and theatrical skills

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) highlights

For community sustainability and economic regeneration, the project offers:

  • 2,035 direct and 900 indirect jobs
  • £190 million of direct and £120 million of indirect gross value added (GVA)
  • a catalyst for regeneration
  • an opportunity to diversify local industry and develop the skill base

For improvement of the built environment, the project includes:

  • the repurposing of several listed buildings
  • sustainable building design
  • a 40% reduction in water consumption
  • greater energy efficiency, with solar PV panels planned for the roof of the film studios

Promoters and partnerships

Quinn Estates is a mixed-use developer that operates across South East England. It is currently providing approximately 200 homes per year, with more than 15,000 homes in the planning system.

The company was founded in the late 1990s and has delivered award-winning strategic planning consents, heritage restorations, community sports facilities, and 2 million square feet of commercial space.

Local and national government support

The project has the full support of Ashford Borough Council, who provided full planning consent for the scheme. This will result in the restoration and repurposing of significant heritage assets on the site and will provide new employment opportunities for the town.

The project is also supported by the county’s inward investment agency Locate In Kent.

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