Redwood Consulting supported Stanhope Plc and Ashford Borough Council with the opening of Elwick Place, Ashford’s new leisure quarter located on the site of the former cattle market.

The opening ceremony for the long-awaited development took place on Saturday 15 December as the new six-screen Picturehouse Cinema also opened its doors for business. Along with the new Travelodge hotel, which opened on Wednesday 19 December, the Picturehouse opening topped off the official launch of phase one of the development.

The Elwick Place community event featured a series of festivities and attractions to mark the opening of the site, which was officially handed over from developer Stanhope PLC to Ashford Borough Council as part of the ceremony. It was the second event to take place at the site during the same week, following an earlier unveiling of the statue of Queen Marie of Romania.

Assisting in the ceremony was five-year old Ashfordian Henry Rowles, who helped to open the development. Speeches from the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Mrs Jessamy Blanford, and the Leader of Ashford Borough Council, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, helped underline how Elwick Place will benefit Ashford and the wider area, catering to growing demand for leisure facilities and helping to attract visitors to the town.

Saturday also saw the first public appearance of the Elwick Etchings, a public arts initiative commissioned by Stanhope and delivered by Kent public arts company, Strange Cargo, which comprises more than 100 memories from local residents of all ages. To establish a longstanding legacy within the local community, the memories have been engraved into paving slabs located throughout the site.

The original gateposts were also unveiled as part of the ceremony, having been restored to their former glory by Stanhope. The opening ceremony was then followed by live music from the Folkestone Community Swing Band and children’s arts and crafts activities.

Gary Bourne, Development Director at Stanhope PLC, said: “Saturday was a proud day for us as we saw the culmination of the first phase of a project that has been more than a decade in the making. We hope that Elwick Place will become an important part of the future of Ashford as a whole, while celebrating its unique heritage and importance to the people of Ashford. This is just the first phase of the development and we look forward to sharing more news and updates in the coming months.”

Cllr Clarkson said: “I believe that Elwick Place will be a game-changer for the town centre’s night-time economy. This development is leading the way in reshaping Ashford’s skyline and is a huge source of pride for myself, the Borough Council and the people of Ashford.

“The Council has forward funded the construction of the project on land that we own and in partnership with Stanhope. In delivering the project on time and on budget we have brought back into use a disused brownfield site, creating jobs and contributing significantly to the local economy.”