For the fifth time in six years, Caxtons is delighted to have won the coveted property industry award 'EGi Deals Winner Kent' in 2016.
This award is based on the number of completed commercial property sales and lettings achieved in the preceding twelve-month period.
James Roberts, Caxtons' commercial agency manager in Canterbury said, "Once again, this strengthens our position in the commercial property market place and demonstrates that we consistently outperform our competitors.
"While property in general has produced improving returns in recent years, the commercial market proved to be less attractive as an investment. The lack of certain types of property has been difficult, and speculative development is still viewed as a risk. However, of late, commercial property has regained the ground it lost during the recession and prices have reached their peak of 2008."This improvement in the commercial market may reflect changes to stamp duty and the withdrawal of tax relief on mortgage interest rates due to impact the residential buy to let market."
Against all the odds, Caxtons improved on the high level of activity it was able to achieve in 2015, and the Caxtons'
Estates Gazette is the well respected, leading national property publication and its EGi website attracts more people seeking business premises than any of its competitors.
Statistics released by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard show improved footfall for retailers during January 2016, with a 1.2% increase on 2015 figures.
After a dreary December, which reflected a 2.2% fall in numbers on the previous year, this has brought hope to landlords and retailers who had been feeling the effect.
"The increase in footfall across all retail destination types, the first since December 2011, alongside the rise in spending in January, finally demonstrates what is well known - that bricks and mortar shopping environments are still important to consumers", said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.
And Caxtons' Commercial Agency office in Canterbury can confirm that new and independent retailers are once again opening up on 'the high street'.
With competition such as St James, a new retail development in Dover, attracting major high street brands such as Marks & Spencer, Next, Travelodge, Bella Italia, Nandos and Cineworld, it could leave traditional busy shopping and leisure areas neglected.
However, the good news is that this means vacant shop premises are available for independent traders to occupy, something they could not have envisaged when in
As a consequence, in the past two months Caxtons has agreed the letting of two Dover shops on new leases with a further two premises under offer.
Beverley Smallman from commercial agency said, "This is very positive news for a sector that has valiantly been fighting the effects of internet shopping, depleted numbers of customers and market share. It has seemed a desperate battle for the smaller independent traders, but now they are coming back to high street locations all over Kent and adding variety and interest to the shopping experience.
"At Caxtons we are getting many more enquiries from retailers wanting and needing a physical outlet, rather than the anonymity of a web based store. Of course, this does not preclude them from having and maintaining both platforms, and many of our tenants do. But it is really nice to see positive activity back on the high street once again."
For further information about commercial property stock contact Caxtons' commercial agency offices in Canterbury on 01227 788088, Maidstone on 01622 234886 and Crossways on 01474 567666.
With the upturn in business investment and employment growth, Kent and Medway's commercial property market is witnessing the return of rental growth, according to the Kent Property Market Report 2015.
Produced by Caxtons, Locate in Kent and Kent County Council, the report was launched at the Mecure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel on November 5, along with a new KCC-led initiative to ensure vital infrastructure is in place to support predicted growth in commercial and residential development.
The report is encouraging news for the office sector with the return of rental growth for the first time since the global financial crisis hit in 2008. While rental growth in the county is still slightly behind the national and south east averages, the report describes the upturn as significant.
Additionally, it states that the recent past has left rents in the county relatively affordable when compared to the rest of the south east, making Kent an attractive proposition for relocating and expanding businesses.
The county's key business parks of Crossways, Discovery Park, Gillingham Business Park, Kings Hill and Kent Science Park, all recorded important deals and investment announcements.
Kent's town centre office markets followed the national trend with many offices being converted to residential units thanks to the Permitted Development Rights legislation.
Elsewhere, rental growth in the county's warehouse sector of 0.2% outperformed UK and regional averages, while the retail sector also saw growth after five years of falling rents. With demand steady, and supply low, Kent has seen speculative industrial and distribution developments, including Ashford, Aylesford and Kingsnorth.
Caxtons' Chairman Ron Roser said that as main sponsor and contributor to the Kent Property Market Report, the firm was especially pleased to see that the continued improvement in the property sector is reflected in this year's research findings.
"Kent has mirrored other occupational office and industrial markets outside London in demand and rental growth. In turn, this has sustained investor interest, and when strong assets do come to the market there is increased interest and competition.
"Consumer confidence has fuelled the residential market with a promise of almost 27,000 new homes for the county. There is marked activity on development sites across the county. This buoyancy has proved to be an impetus to major regeneration schemes with a strong residential component.
"There is comparatively slower growth in the retail sector with limited rental improvement but business parks are experiencing a resurgence and in many cases, old office and dated office stock has been refreshed and converted to much needed residential dwellings.
"In general, improving infrastructure and on-going regeneration has positively and directly benefitted Kent, presenting us with many more opportunities than in the recent past. This year's Report reflects the buoyancy across the industry and it is welcomed by all."
A clear indication of the growth in demand in the county has come from Locate in Kent, the county's investment promotion agency, which helped 46 companies, 16 of them from overseas, to set up in the county in 2014/15, bringing with them 2,612 jobs.
"The Kent Property Market Report reflects the level of growth across the county, which is at its highest for many years," said Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent.
"As property demand rises we have to ensure that we are attracting high quality developers to invest and bring new product to the market, whether they are new offices, retail development, warehousing or industrial space.
"We are fortunate that here in Kent, there are tremendous opportunities for those developers to deliver that space with support from local authorities, national Government and agencies such as ourselves."
In addition KCC leader Paul Carter unveiled a new initiative, the Kent and Medway Growth and Infrastructure Framework (GIF), which has been developed in collaboration with Medway Council, the 12 district authorities and health and utility sectors.
The GIF highlights the significant growth anticipated in Kent over the next 16 years and identifies £6.74bn of infrastructure developments required to support it. It also recognises a funding gap of £2.01bn which, if not addressed will impede the county's growth.
However, Kent County Council is taking action to address this and find innovative solutions, working with Medway and the Kent districts, Government, utilities companies and private sector, engaging with Government and other partners, including private sector investors, to meet that significant funding gap.
Commenting on the GIF initiative, Paul Carter said: "The GIF is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to set the terms of the agenda for infrastructure in Kent and Medway with Government and the private sector. It tells a sobering story about the challenge we face in delivering the growth to which the 12 districts aspire, but it also gives us a unique chance to do something about it.
"The growth challenge we face in Kent and Medway is significant – to deliver the approximately 160,000 homes and over 135,000 jobs that local authorities are planning across the area to 2031, there is a £6.74bn bill for infrastructure, of which £2bn is unfunded.
"The resulting infrastructure challenge is one that we face collectively across local authorities, the development industry, our communities and national Government.
"The solution to this challenge will not come from the public sector alone, nor can we simply expect to get all of this from the industry; rather we need real innovation in how we work with the private sector and Government to get the most out of the resources we have, whilst introducing new ways of leveraging funding and capturing value from development.
"With the GIF and our 10 point action plan, we will be working with industry, public sector and communities to create the best opportunity for quality communities across Kent and Medway into the future."
The Kent Property Market Report is also supported by DHA Planning, Kreston Reeves, Cripps and RICS.