Brighter times are ahead for the Gatwick Diamond region but fallout from the pandemic is still taking its toll, says the regional boss of a major property consultancy.
Danny George, Gatwick Regional Managing Partner at Vail Williams LLP, says ongoing recovery at Gatwick Airport, the region’s biggest employer, is key to kick-starting 2022 economic growth across the area.
The Gatwick Diamond, a dynamic and innovative business location in West Sussex and East Surrey, remains one of the strongest regional economies in the UK and home to many global companies.
Danny, in position now for a year as head of one of multi-office firm Vail Williams’ five regions, said the area undoubtedly continued to face fallout from the pandemic, with the largest single source of employment, Gatwick Airport, severely impacted over the past 12 months.
He said: “The longer it takes for this key economic driver in the region to fully recover, the further the impact on the many businesses that work directly or indirectly with the airport will be.
“In the core Gatwick and Crawley area, the longer-term expansion at Gatwick and the potential additional of the southern runway still hangs in the balance, and this uncertainty continues to impact the land supply due to safeguarding.
“With demand and supply in the warehouse and distribution market such as it is, wider strategic development is needed across the region, but the market needs to continue to recognise that Crawley is a key location.”
However, business rates specialist Danny said there was hope on the horizon that the challenges experienced at Gatwick Airport owing to the pandemic might well be short-lived with the airport showing signs of recovery.
He added: “Wider infrastructure delivery is on the rise, with Growth Fund and Towns Fund projects in Crawley and right across the Gatwick Diamond area.
“This, together with the great strength in partnership working that we have seen from regional stakeholders over the past 18 months, is giving our clients confidence in the evolving market as it responds to new pressures.
“Whilst the wider Gatwick region continues to struggle with the effects of property demand, supply, land allocation and delays to local plans, as well as competition between residential and commercial developers, we believe exciting times lie ahead.
“The emerging Science & Technology Park at Burgess Hill is moving one step closer as we work on securing a land allocation for which the inspector has just given the green light. We look forward to seeing how this project progresses in 2022, as the scheme will provide a vital economic injection for the region over the coming years.
“Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, we expect to see occupiers of commercial property think a lot more strategically about their occupation, as property values and cost increases together with an increased focus on energy efficiency, continue.
“This will result in the delivery of more sustainable buildings by developers and landlords, not just in Gatwick but nationally too, as occupiers seek to reduce energy costs and improve carbon emissions in line with Government targets.
“Our housebuilders clients also remain positive despite the supply chain challenges they have faced, and our planning and development teams look forward to assisting with the re-shaping of our region through several key residential schemes.