KENT’S PROPERTY MARKET SHOWS STRONG RESILIENCE
Partner Tom Lumsden, who is based within our Corporate and Commercial team, where he focuses on Commercial Property, acting for developers, landowners and investors, attended the launch of The Kent Property Market Report 2018 at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone on Thursday 11 November.
The event included a welcome from Ron Roser, chairman of Caxtons, and presentations from Sue Foxley from Caxtons, Paul Carter and Mark Dance from Kent County Council, as well as guest speaker Trevor Minter from Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company.
Tom Lumsden said afterwards: “Opinion at the launch suggested that Kent’s commercial and residential property markets are showing strong resilience compared with the rest of the UK, despite a dip in confidence due to Brexit.”
Now in its 27th edition, the Kent Property Market Report provides an invaluable insight and analysis of the performance of the area’s property by sector and the key projects supporting the county’s growth and economic development. It is produced by the Economic Development Division of Kent County Council in partnership with Caxtons Chartered Surveyors and Locate in Kent.
The report concludes that while the county’s property market echoes the weaknesses seen nationally and caused by economic uncertainty and global trade wars, there are many positive stories to be told.
One of these success stories is on the county’s high streets where the report states that regeneration projects, active management strategies, and increased housing in town centres have added to their vitality, which is reflected in a fall in vacancy rates contrary to the national trend.
This is despite the clear challenges facing the retail sector which has seen big name failures. In Kent, the resultant fall in prime rents has aided a structural change on the high street, promoting a greater mix of occupiers such as independent retailers, small format gyms, escape room venues and coffee shops. However, towns at the upper end of the rental scale are still struggling as affordability dampens the market.
Although conversion of offices to residential use has made space harder to come by (Durlings noted earlier in the year in a report complied for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council that some 22% of office space has been lost in Tunbridge Wells since May 2013), the office sector in Kent and Medway is generally positive for occupiers and investors.
The county’s offices are cost effective compared with the wider South East and so are attractive to companies that are cost sensitive.
Rental growth has been contained at 2% over the 12 months to the end of Q1 in 2018. Average prime rents stand 13% ahead of the pre-financial crisis peak and the sector has seen 28.4% average prime rental growth over the last five years.
In 2017/18, 7,800 new homes were completed in the county, up 7.3% on 2016/17 and just 4.6% down on the pre-financial crisis peak, and with a sharp upturn in the number of units with planning consent or in the planning pipeline.
Ron Roser, Chairman of Caxtons, said: “What really comes through in this year’s report is just how commercial property activity is being driven by the needs of micro and small businesses rather than large corporations. It’s also good to see more space being occupied by companies moving into the area.”
KCC Cabinet Member for Economic Development Mark Dance said: “I believe Kent remains resilient with a business environment seen as favourable to investment with major initiatives and projects to support growth and economic development in our county in the coming year.”
To download a copy of the 2018 Kent Property Market Report, visit kentpropertymarket.com
If you’ve got any questions on the commercial property market, please do call Tom Lumsden on tel: 01892 515022 or email him on: firstname.lastname@example.org