On Tuesday 10th December, Kent was on show at JLL’s Warwick Street offices for the London launch of the 2019 Kent Property Market Report (KPMR), which Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, the report author and headline sponsor, publish annually in conjunction with Kent County Council and Locate In Kent.
Andy Harding of JLL welcomed 60 London property professionals to the launch, including representatives from Savills, Cushman Wakefield, CBRE, Commercial Estates Group along with other agents, investors and developers. Opening proceedings, he said that Kent is now on the map for its land availability, access to staff and ‘value for money’ land and property prices.
The main findings of the research were then presented by Sue Foxley, from Caxtons.
In brief, they showed 2019 has seen Kent’s property and land values rise across a number of sectors, with both local and inward investors seeking and obtaining a variety of commercial and residential property prospects, including industrial, office and development options.
Two of the main reasons for Kent’s property resilience were its relative affordability when compared other parts of the South East and its ease of access to London, Europe and beyond.
Despite national developers now active across Kent, the market is frustrated by a shortage of stock in the industrial and distribution market. However, there has still been an 11% increase in average prime rents over the past 12-months. This is brought into sharp focus by Medway, which has seen a remarkable 67% increase in prime industrial rents during the last 3 years.
Office to residential conversions over recent years have depleted the town centre office stock in many towns across the county. The supply shortages have driven rental growth resulting in a 35% increase in average prime rents over the past five years. Gravesend is a case in point with prime office rents across the last three years seeing an 85% increase. A growing representation of knowledge-based and creative businesses is taking space in the county’s town centres, attracted by increasingly dynamic urban environments and excellent transport accessibility, which supports flexible working practices.
The growth in the highly skilled scientific and technical sectors is particularly prevalent on Kent’s business parks. The impact of this is seen in economic performance – the economic output of Kent’s ICT sector has grown by 118% over the last two decades.
Guests were then updated by Andrew Osborne of Ashford Borough Council on Newtown Works, a proposed mixed-use development of TV and film studios with up to 2,000 film related jobs, commercial space, apartments, restaurants and a 125-bed hotel. The proposal is currently out to Public Consultation with a decision expected in Spring 2020.
This was followed by Ian Piper, Chief Executive Officer of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) who briefed on progress at Ebbsfleet. The latest news is that EDC has purchased 125 hectares around Ebbsfleet International Station. Initial plans comprise up to 3,500 homes, 1-2m sq ft of commercial space, civic centre uses with supporting retail and leisure uses. Currently it is in the early stages of planning, but EDC is already seeking developer and occupier interest.
Finally, Dawn Hudd from Medway Council informed guests about winning government funding for road, rail and green infrastructure on the Hoo Peninsula. This will facilitate up to 10,600 homes and significant areas of commercial space.