It took just under three and a half hours for Ashford Borough Council to decide on the planning application for Ashford International Studios (pictured), in April 2020, which will be used by Netflix, Disney and HBO
It’ll create 2,000 jobs, 300 plus homes, 18,845 sq m of Film/TV Studios with post-production offices, workshops and a media village. Plus 7,185 sq m of additional flexible commercial floorspace and a 120 bed hotel and 62 serviced apartments, according to the leveling up bid made by Ashford Borough Council. This is welcome news indeed for Ashford. The project is estimated to substantially be delivered within 3 years.
However, there is another story behind the successful £14.7 million leveling up bid made by ABC.
Alexander Prisyazhnyuk (pictured) is not a name you are probably familiar with. He holds dual nationality, British & Russian. He is the Chairman of the Audit Committee of the LSR Group, which is a Russian real estate development, construction and building materials company, one of the leaders in the real estate and building materials in Russia. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg. In January 2018, Andrey Molchanov, Mr Prisyazhnyuk boss, and previous major shareholder of the LSR Group was placed on the United States Department of Treasury “Oligarchs List” of persons who are close to Vladimir Putin.
According to the Companies House, the controversial developer Mr Mark Quinn [substantial Tory Donor], sits in Quinn Estates Newtown Works Ltd with Alexander Prisyazhnyuk. And according to the land register Mr Prisyazhnyuk, was one of the lenders to Quinn Estates Newtown Ltd along with U And I Finance Plc and PP Property Finance Bridging Limited.
Quinn Estates Newton Works bought the Old Railway Works for a reputed £5 million from Kier Property Developments Ltd. Mr Prisyazhnyuk investment is reputed to be in the region of £1.25m. What with planning permission and the Netflix, Disney HBO deal, Mr Prisyazhnyuk investment, as well as Mr Quinn’s, means the value of the site will have risen considerably. That said, any profit from the site, could according to a variety of well placed sources, take up to ten years to materialize.
Recently, Ashford Borough Council applied for and succeeded in receiving £14.7 million from the leveling up fund. We note the URL for this link states:
The 14.7m is intended to kick start the project known as Ashford International Studio, based on the site owned by Mr Quinn & Mr Prisyazhnyuk. They will NOT receive a penny of this money, as it will be used for “infrastructure” on the site.
ABC have said
Ashford Borough Council has been successful in bidding for a share of the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The council’s bid and our allocation of £14.7m from this fund, aims to support the Ashford International Studios / Newtown Works project.
This will regenerate a 4.8 hectare brownfield site with five grade II listed buildings in the heart of Ashford town, into a dynamic Ashford International Film Studios along with commercial and residential development.
This of course means the developer, Quinn Estates Newton Works Ltd, no longer has to pay for any “infrastructure” of the site. In the leveling up bid made by Ashord-abc-quinn – and supported by Ashford MP Damian Green, it states:
High abnormal costs related to site remediation, demolition works, enabling infrastructure and the additional costs of restoration of the listed buildings. This development would see the reclamation of this 4.8 hectare (12 acre) site, with 37,179 m2 (400,182 sq ft) of Grade II Listed buildings that need restoration and refurbishment. This adds £[redacted] abnormal costs for the scheme, adding to the scheme being assessed as unviable. This acts as a barrier to the realisation of the whole site, not just those properties themselves, preventing both housing and economic outputs being achieved.
In plain English, the site is not viable, says the developer and ABC’s bespoke advice from Strutt & Parker. This is a cry we all so often here from developers, even though they all so often go onto realize a rise in value for the site.
As has been reported on numerous occasions, Mr Quinn and/or his companies have been substantial donors to the Conservatives, both at local level and national level.
Mr Quinn is adamant that none of his donations have helped sway any decision regarding the Ashford International Studios. Evidence from the Electoral Commission donation page, shows Mr Quinn has never paid any donations to the Ashford Conservatives.
He also is adamant that all monies poured into the project by Mr Prisyazhnyuk has been his own money, NOT Russian money. However, there is no evidence to substantiate that claim.
Wherever Mr Quinn develops, more often than not controversy is not far behind. But as always we’ll leave you to make up your own mind.
The Shepway Vox Team
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