2016 KENT PROPERTY MARKET | The annual guide to investment & development in kent

Welcome to the 25th edition of the Kent Property Market Report, produced by Kent County Council's Economic Development Division, Caxtons and Locate in Kent.

This year's report reviews property deals and activity throughout 2015-16. It also covers major initiatives to support growth and economic development as well as showcasing regeneration projects already completed or on-going across the county.

The UK property market delivered a total return of 13.1% (MSCI) in 2015, while down on 2014 stood ahead of other types of investment. The newly developed Caxtons' prime rent and yield series show Kent's occupational and investment performing well. The county's business park sector has shown particularly robust levels of occupier demand. Significantly these lettings are focussed on high value sectors such as life sciences, technology and financial services. The Caxtons' average prime rent stands at an all-time high, with rents at all parks sitting ahead of their pre-recession peak.

The Economic Outlook reports that the past few years have seen steady growth in the UK. While this has slowed recently, the economy is forecast to expand by 1.6% in 2016. Britain's decision in June 2016 to leave the European Union has led to considerable policy uncertainty and this is likely to persist for some time as the nature of the UK's exit is worked out and may impact on investment decisions. Kent is a favourable business location, with relatively more affordable business and residential property than other parts of the South East. It will remain a vital gateway to continental Europe, regardless of the impact of Brexit.

Improved business confidence during 2015 spurred office demand in the South East mirrored in Kent with leasing activity remaining buoyant despite the EU referendum. Household spending is showing greater caution and we have seen some big name losses on the high street. However, active expansion by other retailers is absorbing units in Kent with marked improvements across the county's town centres.

Kent's residential market has seen strong average price growth over the last year. However, there have been challenges with Stamp Duty changes on second homes creating a short term distortion in the market. The supply of homes for sale remains mute, which will continue to place pressure on prices despite post-Brexit uncertainty. New and exciting schemes across the county will help to provide much needed homes over the coming years.

In terms of inward investment, at the end of June 2016 Locate in Kent had a pipeline of 274 projects looking to start up, expand or relocate to Kent. The report also looks in detail at Kent's industrial & distribution performance, rural property, tourism and the provision of green infrastructure.

The Economic Development section features current and planned developments across Kent and Medway. It focusses particularly on Kent's growth areas, the continuing regeneration of Kent's coastal towns and the new Kent Innovation Corridor which stretches from Dartford to Sandwich and includes Kent's second Enterprise Zone (North Kent Enterprise Zone) as well as the existing and successful Enterprise Zone at Discovery Park.

This year's report also includes an update on the Kent and Medway Growth and Infrastructure Framework (GIF) developed by Kent County Council, in collaboration with Medway Council, the County's 12 district authorities, and health and utility sectors, to provide a clear picture of housing and economic growth to 2031 and the infrastructure needed to support this growth. This infrastructure includes everything from roads and rail, to education, green infrastructure and community facilities.

Winner of the 'Excellence in the Planning to Deliver Infrastructure' category of the Royal Town Planning Institute Southeast Planning Awards 2016, the GIF was recognised for the innovative approach not only in creating the evidence base, but in how it is now being used to shape the infrastructure agenda. In a strong field the Judging Panel said they were particularly impressed with the "boldness of the County" in the approach taken and the actions to tackle barriers to infrastructure delivery.

The Transport section highlights the significant government investment in transport schemes across Kent through the Local Growth Fund. In addition, improvements to the rail infrastructure are outlined as well as progress with the Government's proposals for a Lower Thames Crossing and an overnight lorry park in connection with Operation Stack.

The Strategic Developments pages feature a comprehensive list of commercial sites and developments throughout Kent, as well as providing planning information, useful contact details and location map.

If you would like further information on any of the developments or projects featured please do not hesitate to contact us. For contact details please our contact page

Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, established in 1990, is one of the largest independent property practices in the South East offering a full range of agency, management, professional and surveying services across all property sectors.

Kent County Council's Economic Development Division works with public, private and voluntary sectors to support Kent's economic growth by encouraging and supporting businesses to promote growth and find new ways of funding business critical infrastructure and to unlock key development sites.

Locate in Kent provides a confidential and free business relocation and advisory service for all companies looking to relocate to, or expand in Kent and Medway.

The producers of the report would also like to thank the following for their sponsorship and contributions to this year's report: Clague Architects, Cripps LLP, DHA Planning, Mitchell Design & Construction, Kreston Reeves and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

We hope you find the report useful and informative.

Mark Dance

Cabinet Member for Economic Development
Kent County Council

Ron Roser

Chairman
Caxtons

Paul Wookey

Chief Executive
Locate in Kent Ltd