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Kent commercial property market to weather Brexit uncertainty says report

By Chris Price

Kent’s commercial property market is in a good position to weather the uncertainty created by the decision to leave the EU, according to a new report.

Large numbers of high-value industries, affordable business space and close proximity to Europe mean the outlook remains positive for the county, said the Kent Property Market Report 2016.

The research by Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, based in Gravesend, said an upturn in demand is boosting rents, which are exceeding pre-recession peaks at the county’s major business parks.

The commercial property market in Kent is in a good position says a new report

It said a number of the county’s town centre office markets enjoyed record rents, with regeneration schemes expected to drive further increases.

The report – also produced by Kent County Council and Locate in Kent – was unveiled at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel this morning.

“Our location, despite the unknown effects of Brexit, will remain a vital gateway to continental Europe and the county an attractive place for both domestic and international business...” - Cllr Mark Dance, Kent County Council

It showed rent in the industrial and distribution sector increased nearly 7%, with greater demand from more technical sectors.

Meanwhile, the report detailed that the retail sector has seen slight increases in average prime rent, with levels in Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Dartford ahead of their pre-recession peaks.

An extract from the report said: “The county’s retail sector will not be immune to economic uncertainty, although Kent’s historic and coastal towns are well placed to benefit from the sudden sharp depreciation of sterling attracting more tourist spending.”

It concluded: “Our new relationship with Europe undoubtedly creates uncertainty over future business fortunes.

“Certainly, the recent upturn in business investment in the UK, which is so important to the commercial property market, may be threatened.

“However, Kent is well-placed to attract activity as maturing business clusters sustain vibrancy, delivering a virtuous circle of demand and economic activity.”

Ron Roser, chairman of Caxtons, said: “Kent has outstripped London with house price rises at 13% and there has been a substantial increase in prime industrial rents. “Compared to other areas across the South East the cost of business space is still competitive, which is attractive to relocating businesses.”

Kent County Council’s economic development chief Cllr Mark Dance said: “The year ahead will undoubtedly be challenging and there remain uncertainties, particularly with major elections in the USA, France and Germany.

“But this report shows us that, with substantial planned investment and developments, Kent and Medway offers some of the most exciting economic growth prospects in the South East.

“Our location, despite the unknown effects of Brexit, will remain a vital gateway to continental Europe and the county an attractive place for both domestic and international business.”

Locate in Kent, an agency which tries to encourage firms to move to the county, helped 46 companies set up, move to or expand in Kent last year, creating 1,386 jobs and retaining 1,085.

Chief executive Paul Wookey said: “While the Brexit process is likely to cause uncertainty in the future, what this year’s Kent Property Market Report shows is that Kent and Medway has a thriving and vibrant economy, which – coupled with its connectivity to the Channel Ports, airports and London and the rest of the country – make it an attractive proposition to companies looking to set up or relocate their operations.”

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