Less than one year to go until McArthurglen Designer Outlet Ashford opens the doors of its £90 million expansion

There’s less than a year to go until McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford opens its doors to reveal its much-anticipated, £90 million, 100,000 sq ft expansion. While the centre remains open for business as usual, the team today released exclusive footage from behind the hoardings, where significant progress has been made in delivering 50 new premium and luxury brands, restaurants and a range of exciting guest facilities.

Since construction work began back in January, the team has successfully navigated March’s Beast from the East, as well as the UK’s longest heatwave since 1976, to keep the expansion on track to open in autumn next year.

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford Extension (Fly-through)

To date, the project has seen:

  • the opening of a new 725-space car park that has improved accessibility to the centre and enhanced the experience for guests traveling by car
  • the dismantling of the old children’s playground, with the parts donated to nearby Wingham Wildlife Park
  • the unveiling of designs for a new digitally-enhanced play area, which will feature one the UK’s tallest open space Robinia towers
  • the removal of a small portion of the tent to make way for the introduction of 50 globally renowned brands
  • the completion of groundworks that pave the way for the new food piazza

With the 12-month countdown on, the centre will be delivering the final features of the expansion throughout 2019. An exciting new ‘Garden of England’-themed playground with Hans Christian Andersen augmented reality play experiences will be introduced first, followed by the opening of the new food piazza with a range of delicious dining options, a dedicated events space and a Changing Places facility.

At its launch, the tent was the largest of its type and, fittingly, a new living green wall will be the largest of its type in Europe, being composed of thousands of individual plants. This new addition, conceived by Chapman Taylor and McArthurGlen to reflect Kent's status as 'the garden of England', highlights Ashford’s openness to, and appreciation for, forward-thinking and innovative design.

Christmas has also arrived at the centre, with a 36ft Christmas Tree decorated in over 1,100 metres of energy-efficient lights, bringing extra festive cheer.

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford Extension (Under construction)

Peter Corr, Centre Manager at Ashford Designer Outlet said: “We’re thrilled that there’s now less than a year to go until we open the doors to our £90 million expansion and offer our customers an even greater selection of the world’s most sought-after brands. Our behind-the-scenes footage reveals just how busy our construction partners have been as we work around the clock to deliver a flagship retail destination that not only generates an additional 500 jobs for the community, but improves Ashford’s infrastructure for years to come. While construction progresses, we’re open as usual and continue to provide a full programme of exciting events and promotions to ensure guests enjoy an exceptional day out when they visit us.”

Standing as one of Ashford’s most iconic buildings since it was developed in 2000, the centre remains Europe’s largest tented retail structure. Commenting on the design of the new extension, Chapman Taylor Associate Director Lucy Flintoff said: “We’re very proud to have been involved in the 100,000 sq ft extension of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford. Richard Rogers, the architect behind the centre’s original tented structure, highlighted that the design of the tent allowed for future flexibility, with the retail outlets capable of being easily relocated and reconfigured, as required. The success and popularity of the centre means that its design needed to evolve and, consequently, Chapman Taylor’s architectural design has respectfully removed a small element of the tent to allow the new phase to join seamlessly with the existing centre.”

Anja Haubold, based in the Bristol Studio, now leads Chapman Taylors Executive Team, working with the McLaren Group to turn the initial design, developed by Darren Buist, into a reality.

Lucy Flintoff (BA(hons), BArch, MA, ARB, RIBA)

Associate Director, London

Lucy joined Chapman Taylor in 2010 and has an established track record having worked on a number of award-winning high profile projects from concept to delivery.

Having played a key role in our London studio’s Senior Architect group, Sustainability Group and the Technical Panel, Lucy became an Associate Director in 2017 and has strong expertise in leading and managing large design teams on major projects.

Areas of expertise:

Retail / Mixed-use / Leisure / Delivery

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