Key Facts

Ashford is the fastest growing town between London and continental Europe, which is expected to double by 2031. It has a flexible and motivated workforce of around 46,000 and 5,000 businesses.

Ashford is fast becoming a thriving economic and commercial centre drawing commuters from a catchment population of 1.2 million within a 60-minute drive.

As an area, the Gross Value Added is over £1.5 million.  Ashford enjoys a strategic position, being at the hub of the High Speed 1 (HS1) rail link to London with excellent European road and sea connections.

Growing industries include wholesale and retail, construction, transport and distribution and business services. Combined with an impressive multi-million pound investment in infrastructure and public facilities, Ashford is attracting a strong trend of business development.

The table below provides key facts on Ashford's current position.




111,000 (2005)

Population change (1981-2003) 21.8%



Economic activity rate 83%

Access to potential employees within a drive time distance

20 minutes – 70,000

40 minutes – 534,000

60 minutes – 1.2 million


1.5% (Jan 2007)

Labour costs

20% less than London

10% lower than the rest of the South East

Headline companies

Brakes, Coty Rimmel UK Ltd, Eurostar, Givaudan (formerly Quest International UK Ltd), Hitachi.

Number of companies


Key sectors

Wholesale and retail, construction, transport and distribution and business services.

Education (schools)

50 (+ 3 specialist)

Golf courses / shopping

Chart Hills

Ashford Designer Outlet (3 million visitors)

County Square (£65 million extension)

Travel road times to airports

93 minutes to Heathrow, around one hour to Gatwick.

Air fact

Two Kent airports at Lydd (London Ashford Airport) and Manston (Kent International Airport).

CTRL fact (freight)

Carries 110 to 120 million tonnes per year of operation.

Eurostar fact (passenger)

57 minutes to Lille

37 Minutes to London (2009)

Port fact (freight)

2.3 million freight vehicles a year (Dover)

Port fact (passenger)

Over 13 million passengers a year and two cruise terminals.

Access time to universities

5 within one hour

Consumer access to London / Europe

360 million

Property fact (office rents)

68% less than London