THE ANNUAL GUIDE
TO INVESTMENT &
DEVELOPMENT IN KENT
Published by Ashford Borough Council in association with Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, the inaugural report builds upon the Kent Property Market Report 2018, and includes new research.
The report, launched at Connect 38 located within Ashford’s Commercial Quarter, highlights how the borough has fared throughout 2018-19. It provides an insight into current trends and future opportunities in Ashford – one of the fastest growing towns in the South East.
The spotlight was on developments which are shaping Kent’s number one business location and changing the local property market, by attracting both investors and businesses. It also highlights the major initiatives and projects that have come to fruition over the last year, as well as looking at the challenges ahead.
Ashford Borough Council’s Chief Executive, Tracey Kerly, said: “I’m delighted to launch the first Ashford Property Market Report, which highlights our incredible borough and the many jewels that it has to offer. Ashford is experiencing high levels of investment and regeneration, and I’m truly proud to be leading such a great team of officers who work tirelessly to promote the borough.
“As the first council in Kent to produce our very own borough-specific version of the ‘Kent Property Market Report’, we really are emphasising why Ashford is the number one business location of choice.”
Ron Roser, Chairman of Caxtons, added: “Caxtons is delighted to have provided the unique and up-to-date property research which shows how well Ashford has fared over the last year, compared to Kent as a whole.
“Caxtons attribute this success story to a range of factors. There is no doubt, and you only have to look around the town centre to see it, that Ashford, after several false starts, is finally seeing its day. This is helped by hi-speed rail services to London in 38 minutes, and the Council’s positive hands-on attitude to property investment and keenness to work in partnership with private developers.
“Current and projected population growth has also played its part and will give Ashford the critical mass to support the numerous developments delivered over the last year or so, and to be delivered over the next few.”
Over the last year, the Ashford property market has performed well, with prime office rents rising by 11%, compared with only 4% across Kent as a whole, making Ashford more attractive to property investors of which there have been no shortage.
Prime industrial rents have grown 38% over the last five years compared with only 24% in Kent. Over the same period, residential values in the town centre have increased by almost 26%.
Town centres are having a difficult time everywhere, yet retail rents have risen 11% over the last year in Ashford compared with a drop of 3% across Kent as a whole.
These figures are being driven by key developments taking shape such as the Commercial Quarter, featuring Connect 38, the biggest office block to be built in Kent for 20 years and The Coachworks, a collaboration with Carl Turner Architects to transform disused industrial buildings into a mixed-use campus providing a co-working space aimed at start-up firms, flexible event space and a food and drink destination.
When the Curious Brewery opens in April 2019, it will enable owner Chapel Down to grow its domestic and international distribution and contribute to the area’s increasingly strong tourism offer.
Nearby is Victoria Point, where a 120-bed hotel, 216 apartments and retail units are being built. Also next to Ashford International train station (with its links to Paris and Brussels), is McArthurGlen’s 100,000 sq. ft. expansion of the Ashford Designer Outlet, which will add 50 new stores including six restaurants and cafes.
Looking ahead, connectivity is at the heart of economic expansion, with High Speed 1 already enabling 38-minute journey times to London. Building on this, Ashford is the first council to include a policy in the Local Plan compelling developers to ensure fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband connections in most new developments.
Developers are queuing up to invest in innovative mixed-use schemes – for example, Quinn Estates in partnership with regeneration specialist U+I, has bought a former railway works and is drawing up plans for a TV and film studios, a hotel, retail and leisure complex, upmarket homes and extensive green space and public realm.
The delivery of Junction 10a of the M20, which is due to open to traffic later in 2019, provides substantial opportunity for increased commercial and residential property development through the Waterbrook, Stour Park and Finberry developments.