In the next five years, more than £500 million will energise the centre of Ashford, the booming town southeast of London.

Prime among the new projects is a six-screen cinema, hotel, restaurant and café complex spanning two hectares, known as Elwick Place. Built on the site of a former cattle market, the development is scheduled to open by the end of 2018, attracting thousands of residents and visitors to enjoy its facilities.

“This marks a big milestone,” said council leader Gerry Clarkson. Elwick Place is among the projects which are “transforming the borough’s fortunes,” he added.

The town is currently bidding for a £3.2 million Heritage Lottery Fund award for Victoria Park in Ashford. “With great play spaces, interesting ecology and quiet places to relax, there is already something for everyone, but the extra funding gives us scope to develop this even further,” said Councillor Mike Bennett. “Future plans for the park could include improving the play areas, more outdoor activities for volunteers, improvements for wildlife and refurbishment of the fountain.”

Nearby residential project Riverside Park, with 235 apartments and 26 waterfront houses, is another such bonus for Ashford. Developed by GRE Assets in partnership with Quinn Estates, Riverside Park employed the same design team – Guy Hollaway Architects – as Elwick Place.

The scheme has also drawn praise from Ashford Borough Council: “The buildings have added to the Ashford skyline,” said Tracey Kerly at the council. “Ashford continues to be a real draw for the very best commercial enterprises and remains the obvious choice for expanding, thriving and established businesses.”

Ashford International station is on the HS1 Eurostar rail link between London, Paris, Brussels and onwards into Europe.