Building one of the world's greenest shopping centres.

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford has become one of the world’s greenest shopping centres following a £90 million extension that includes Europe’s largest living green wall. In addition to this, 50 new stores, an events space, food piazza, interactive children’s play area and 725 new car parking spaces were built. The project also included the construction of kiosks, management suite facilities, public toilets, retail storage, a visitor information centre, and associated service yards.

This new expansion makes the Ashford Designer Outlet one of the South of England’s biggest outlets. The official opening was in November 2019, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by centre manager, Peter Corr, and MP, Damian Green.

This is one of several major projects instigated by Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council as key employment and economic drivers in the development of the town. It has created approximately 500 jobs within Ashford’s local community.

Working in a live environment while minimising disruption

Main construction works were carried out in a live retail environment, with the demolition and section 278 roadworks built into an innovative out-of-hours work schedule, minimising disruption to shoppers and residents.

 

The largest living wall

McLaren worked with the environmental design company, Biotecture, to build the £1.5 million living green wall. Made up of 120,000 plants, the 25,000 sq. ft installation creates a striking atmosphere in the centre, with beautiful vertical gardens covering the walls of the entrance promenade, walkways and many of the new stores. The green wall is not just lovely to look at, it also reduces air pollution and aids biodiversity.

Throughout the construction phase, nearby wildlife was protected. Aylesford Stream is home to several protected animal species, such as water voles and newts. Working closely with the Environment Agency, the team developed a plan to safeguard the stream dynamics, endangered species were relocated and then released back into new habitats around the designer outlet during the summer of 2019.

Peter Corr, Centre Manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford, commented: “As South East England’s leading designer outlet, and just over 30 minutes from London, our centre has seen 18 years of growth and evolution. We welcome over 3.6 million visitors every year and in response to market demand, this autumn we are launching a new phase that will elevate the whole shopping experience for our guests and the retail environment for our brand partners. This spectacular living wall installation is a key feature of this exciting expansion that will attract new shoppers locally, from London and also internationally.”

Jay NewmanRegional Managing Director, South

Living walls are proven to help uplift people’s mood, reduce air pollution and aid biodiversity – this installation creates a calming atmosphere at the focal point of the new shopping space, with beautiful vertical gardens covering the walls and providing new habitats for local wildlife. The overall design of this project has created an outstanding, environmentally friendly retail destination in a great location. We are proud to have been a part of McArthurGlen’s vision for modern shopping in Kent.