20th Kent Property Market Report Video Review

Click on the image above to watch Steve Loader’s report filmed at Northdown 2, Eureka Business Park, Ashford. There are also video interviews with Paul Carter and Kevin Lynes from Kent County Council and Alison Owen from Cluttons at the bottom of this report.

Launched at the 26,000ft2 Northdown 2 at Eureka Business Park, Ashford, the county’s most recently spec-built office complex, the Kent Property Market Report, written by Kent County Council and property consultants Cluttons, is produced by investment promotion agency Locate in Kent, supported by law firm Thomson, Snell and Passmore.

It reviews property performance and major deals in Kent from summer 2010 to summer 2011 and provides insight on Kent’s commercial, retail, tourism, rural and residential property markets, and its regeneration programmes.

The agricultural, office, industrial and residential sectors have all performed well when compared to regional averages, while significant regeneration projects and growth areas in the Thames Gateway, Ashford and the coastal and principal towns are well advanced, opening up some of the most significant investment opportunities in the South East. The number of companies looking to locate in the county also remains healthy.

Significant highlights include the opening of Turner Contemporary in Margate, which attracted 100,000 visits in five weeks (two thirds of its first year forecast) and as a result businesses in the harbour are thriving with new retailers attracted to the Old Town and lower High Street.

The gallery recently received national recognition at the Regeneration and Renewal Awards for the greatest contribution of Arts and Culture to Regeneration. In Canterbury, the new Marlowe Theatre opened on October 4.

Meanwhile in Ashford, significant infrastructure projects completed in 2011 include improvements to the M20 Junction 9 and Drovers Roundabout and the landmark M20 footbridge linking the town centre and Eureka business and leisure parks.

In East Kent, Phase II improvements to the A256 (East Kent Access) are underway with completion early in 2012, greatly improving access to East Kent Opportunities’ sites and Manston airport.

While Pfizer is to leave its research and development facility at Sandwich by the end of 2012, it will leave more than 350 staff on site, the area, now called Discovery Park, has been designated as an Enterprise Zone and CB Richard Ellis is actively marketing the site, as are Locate in Kent and UK Trade and Investment.

The report also finds that the housing market in the South East is showing tentative signs of recovery, buoyed by London’s outperformance, with prices up 0.7% during Q2 compared to 0.2% for the rest of the UK. Land Registry figures suggest that Kent has delivered a more robust performance relative to the national average.

Towns benefiting from the upturn in the financial and business services sector, such as Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells, have delivered stronger growth. To the end of Q2, prices in other parts of Kent were flat, while in East Kent they fell by 2%.

Mid, West and North-West Kent and Kings Hill continue to attract interest from regional developers such as Hillreed as well as national developers, with land values holding firm in part due to some historic planning consents with lower affordable housing requirements.

With businesses across the county benefiting from High Speed Rail services to London via HS1, coupled with good road links, companies are still finding Kent an attractive proposition.

Locate in Kent, Kent and Medway’s investment promotion agency, logged 213 new projects in 2010/11. 186 had property or land requirements (compared with 188 in 2009-10). 91 were industrial, 88 offices and seven for land. At the end of June 2011, there were 312 active projects. 273 had a potential requirement for property or land.

By the end of 2010-11, 73 companies had been assisted to invest in Kent and Medway; 58 had a new or additional property requirement. The total area of property occupied was 53,244m2 (573,116ft2).

During the first quarter of 2011-2012, a further 3,139m2 (33,784ft2) were occupied (12 companies – nine office, two industrial and one retail) with industrial take-up dominating at 62%.

Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “These are tough times and we need to do all we can to get the Kent economy moving faster.

“We have the housing and development sites, but housing completions have fallen in Kent and across the country. We need to overcome the obstacles that are stopping housing being built and do all we can to generate new business growth and new local jobs.

“The Kent Property Market story over the last 20 years is a good one. In tough economic times, we must ensure Kent remains the place to do business.”

Kevin Lynes, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said: “This is the 20th year of this annual Report and it has been a tough year, but due to the diversity of the Kent property market, there has been a minor overall improvement.

“In addition, we have a number of positive changes that will help unlock investment. These include the new Discovery Park Enterprise Zone in Sandwich, improved transport connections with High Speed One and continued interest from outside investors. Hopefully these improvements will lend confidence to the market and build on the successes of the last 20 years as a sound foundation for future growth.”

Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said the report showed that Kent was well placed to lead the recovery in the South East.

“Looking back over the major infrastructure investments in the county over the 20 years of the Kent Property Market Report, it is clear to see that those initiatives have put us in a strong position to weather the current climate and grow when the time is right,” he said.

“Excellent transport links, first class office and industrial accommodation and a strong cultural heritage make Kent an extremely attractive proposition to companies looking to either set up in the UK or relocate from elsewhere in the country.

“All those who have contributed to the development of the county over the last 20 years have much to be proud of and those doing business here now have every reason to feel confident going forward.”

Alison Owen, partner, Cluttons said: “There is no doubt in our mind that Kent remains an attractive location to both investors and developers. While the county is experiencing mixed fortunes in the current economic climate, some residential schemes can command higher values than pre-recession.

“On the commercial side, Cluttons is still seeing the acquisition of sites for a limited amount of speculative and specific end-user developments in Kent, unlike most other South East markets. The vast majority of Kent investments on the market continue to be very well received, with supply struggling to meet demand.

“Backed by its strong infrastructure framework, we see Kent being well-placed to continue attracting business and investment into the region.”

The report is available to view online via www.kentpropertymarket.com.

Watch video interviews below.

Interview with Alison Owen, Partner, Cluttons

Interview with Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council

Interview with Kevin Lynes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, Kent County Council

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