Ash Sakula were appointed by Ashford Borough Council to carry out a study to design a preferred development approach to a complex site just south of Ashford’s Lower High Street. The site is currently occupied by a former Odeon cinema, now a bingo hall, a large shoppers' car park and a former burial ground, now a public green space.

The relocation of the car park and imminent closure of the bingo hall has created an opportunity to bring new homes into the town centre, to restore the dominance of the adjacent St Mary's Church tower, to form a new, more direct pedestrian route from station to town centre, and to create a new public square, bringing new life and commercial opportunities to a high street under threat from online and edge-of-town retail.

We developed a proposal to create 61 new homes with residents parking, a new public square and exciting, buzzy events space, commercial and retail opportunities and a multi-purpose indoor performance space seating 120.

An aerial view of the proposals, looking south from Ashford's Lower High Street.

An early sketch, showing how the project links Ashford's town centre with Ashford International Railway Station.

This sketch shows how the new public square is formed on the footprint of the old cinema auditorium.

A view across the new public square, Odeon Square, looking north towards the High Street. Its cinema heritage will be continued with open air screenings.

The new quarter creates new walking routes from the station into the town centre, and also links with St Mary's churchyard.

A view of the proposals from Station Road, looking north west across Vicarage Field.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos

Client: Ashford Borough Council

Project start:  2018

The site of the project is occupied by a large shoppers' car park, a bingo hall, formerly a cinema, and a former burial ground.

Ashford's new Odeon Cinema on opening night in 1932.

Removing the tent-like shed of the old cinema auditorium will reveal the tower of St Mary's Church, just visible in this view.

Approaching the new public square by day...

...and by night.