Radio House John Wilson Business Park (credit: George Wilson Holdings)
Where office sector uncertainty is concerned, Kent has mirrored the rest of the UK
While business parks have seen some significant lettings, there has been limited take-up in Kent’s town centre office sector with most demand for floorplates of less than 3,000 sq ft. However, a shortage of quality office space means it is still at a premium, keeping rental values steady. The result is a five-year annualised average growth rate of more than 3% across the county.
Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Dartford and Maidstone are driving rental growth, and demand in Gravesend continues to rise resulting in an 85% increase in the average prime office rent across the last 5 years.
Many businesses are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach, rather than committing to office space. If appropriate, and a mix of homeworking / office commute becomes the norm, the focus may be quality rather than size, in order to aid collaboration, creativity, training and underpin the culture of organisations.
Serviced offices provide ideal co-working facilities
Serviced offices such as BizSpace’s mix of co-working includes hot desking and private offices, and is a welcome addition in both Maidstone and Ashford and fits the bill for many businesses – at least for now.
Refurbishment of the former Customs House in Gravesend includes around 9,000 sq ft of high spec office space with views out over the Thames.
A recent survey revealed 50 co-working facilities currently operating across the county, boasting more than 60% occupancy for hot desking and 80% private offices. In addition, there are another ten such facilities in the pipeline.
The arts on the move
Office space in the pipeline and under construction includes a film studio complex and business space in the Grade II Listed former engine sheds by Ashford International Station - given a £14.7m boost in the Autumn budget - and Tunbridge Wells BC has granted outline planning consent to U+I to provide 74,000 m2 of warehouse and offices at Kingstanding Way, on the edge of the town.
Cultural and creative production is at heart of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor where the vision is to develop a world-class hub for this specialist sector of the arts. Whilst it has been difficult to operate during the pandemic, this area of business is identified as a high growth sector over the coming 10 years, with the added
While there is uncertainty, investment sales proceed with substantial deals in Dover and Tonbridge completing. The office sector is identified as a high growth area over the next decade where quality of stock will be paramount.
Whitehall Place Biz Centre, ex Customs House (credit: Gravesham Borough Council)
For more detailed information follow this link to the Office sector data extract from this year’s Kent Property Market.
Caxtons recently won the EGi Most Active Agent in Kent award for commercial property transactions.
Across the UK the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors have all suffered extensively from both the pandemic and its associated effects.
While much of the retail sector remained open during the second and third (autumn and winter) lockdowns, leisure facilities were closed until July ‘21*.
In April BRC-LDV Vacancy Monitor reported the overall retail vacancy rate across the UK had increased to 14.1% in Q1 of 2021, which was 1.9% ahead of the same point last year.
By June, retail sales values had reached 10.6% more than pre-pandemic levels. Over the summer months the return to ‘experiential’ shopping was slower than online sales, which remain substantially higher than before the crisis - 40% ahead of February 2020 levels – and now represent over a quarter by value of retail sales.
The consequences of the pandemic have hastened a decade long shift in consumer behaviour and are clear across Kent’s high streets and retail parks.
Over the year, major brands disappeared, pushing up the number of vacancies. With the pre-pandemic shift to online shopping accelerating, and a limited return to physical retail, all Kent towns experienced an increase in vacancies resulting in lower rents and greater lease flexibility.
There is more evidence of enhanced landlord incentives, flexibility on lease lengths and terms and a growing number of retailers agreeing rents paid monthly in arears*. ‘Covid clauses’ are becoming commonplace, with agreed rent reductions if the store is forced to close.
Ground floor retail space at 1887 The Pantiles, the new unique landmark development in Tunbridge Wells.
Average prime Zone A high street rent in Kent has fallen 15% over the last 12 months, driven primarily by the
Gail’s Bakery at Bligh’s Meadow, Sevenoaks
larger retail centres, which felt the loss of national retail brands more acutely.
Tunbridge Wells prime Zone A retail rents are the highest in the county at £111.50 per sq ft (£1,200 per m2), but still reflect the sharpest fall in the county of 30% over the past 12 months.
There were a number of notable investment transactions in Kent
New lettings reflect a shift towards local shopping and experience, including a number of gyms and hospitality lettings. The latter is best illustrated by The Light leisure complex, an eight-screen cinema, nine-lane bowling alley, retro arcade, diner and three bars, which opened at the Spirit of Sittingbourne regeneration scheme in May.
Supermarkets survived relatively unscathed with more developments planned in Maidstone, Ashford and Kings Hill, as well as a new Sainsbury’s that opened in Staplehurst in March.
The out of town market is difficult, though there have been some lettings with Sofology, Decathlon (a first for Kent) and Hobbycraft all opening new stores. Ashford Designer Outlet has seen a strong return to their outdoor environment and has almost fully let its new extension. Bluewater has been hit with many occupiers retaining a presence, but downsizing units. However, there have been some significant lettings too including Zara Concept Store; ProCook, Sleep8, Moyenne and Amazon who recently opened a 3,500 sq ft unit.
Neil Chatterton, Managing Director of Caxtons was keen
to point out that while high streets across the county are changing, they are still worth investing in.
“We have seen continued interest in investment opportunities. In January, we completed on the investment sale / purchase of 21 High Street Broadstairs (3,410 sq ft) from Mojon Investments Ltd to Nilacraft Ltd for £423,000 and in February a private individual agreed the sale of 61/61a Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Bexleyheath to Kova Workplace Ltd for £305,000.
“Investment has remained active across the Kent retail market and the largest was by Realty Income Corporation who paid £44.95m for the Gillingham Asda superstore at Pier Approach*.
“Although the past year has been challenging for the retail sector, continued investment reflects the long view, and while high streets of the future may look and feel different, there remains a belief that it’s still worth investing in.”
For more detailed information click here for the retail sector performance data and narrative.
Caxtons recently won the EGi Most Active Agent in Kent award for commercial property transactions.
*For further information, please refer to the retail section of the Report.
The Powerhouse, Dartford (credit: Bericote Properties)
The industrial and logistics sector in Kent experienced record highs during 2020, and it is gratifying to note that – according to this year’s Kent Property Market Report - 2021 is repeating that pattern. Much of the growth is outside the M25 and deeper into the county, which is welcome and hopefully a trend for future years.
Kent has enjoyed a 9% increase in average annualised prime industrial rent over the past three years with a total increase of 48% over the past five-years.
Mark Coxon, Head of Commercial at Caxtons said “Anyone with a knowledge of the Industrial and Logistics sector in Kent can confirm, the 2021 Report findings are correct in that ...continued expansion and upgrading of facilities by retailers, parcel delivery operators and third party logistics businesses has driven the pace of growth.
“An increased demand for storage - exaggerated by an exponential expansion in online shopping, plus the pandemic and a recent shortage of HGV drivers across the UK, Europe and beyond – means that any new large Grade A floorplate is gone almost before it reaches the open market.”
Even though there has been an increase in stock in Kent over the past couple of years, that new industrial and
distribution space is going to pre-lets and there is a squeeze on supply. Strong demand has helped to maintain rental growth.
Recent additions to the county and its economy include Amazon’s Distribution Centre, which began operating in the summer at Bericote’s The Powerhouse near Dartford – previously the Littlebrook Power Station - and at 215,000m2, it is their biggest centre in Europe.
On the same site and with practical completion in October, Ikea has pre-let 41,821m2.
M2 City Link, Medway City Estate and Trilogy in Sittingbourne were also beneficiaries of high demand and experienced major lettings on all three sites.
There have been a number of corporate manufacturer lettings too, most notably at the Arc, Snodland and Orbital Park, Ashford.
With new space pre-let, this leaves little choice for others locating in Kent. However, there is new speculative development due, with a 22,184 m2 site at Crossways in Dartford and others in Snodland, Gravesend, at the Medway City Estate and in Wrotham.
Developer Panattoni has been granted permission for 176.580 m2 of quality warehousing and distribution space on the old Aylesford Newsprint site alongside the M20. It is expected to complete and be occupied by 2024.
The Kingsnorth Power Station site at Hoo Peninsular is subject of a planning application – MedwayOne - submitted in March, for a mix of industrial and distribution floorspace, data centres and energy uses.
So, interest in speculative development abounds, with current activity in Kent providing exciting prospects and the promise of more to come.
With a view to sales, even though there are some strong contenders on the market relatively few established sites
Lack of activity cannot be blamed on investors whose appetite remains strong – but they are looking for the right prospect.
The multi-let investment sales market has seen activity with an example of this in Sittingbourne where the 38,217 m2 Trinity Trading Estate was sold by Orchard Street to Arax Properties for £55m. The competition for this and similar prospects has resulted in driving yields inwards, as illustrated by the 10,219m2 Aylesford Commercial Park, which sold at a sub 2.85%.
When compared with the rest of the south east and wider M25 market, Kent is still benefitting from its relative ‘affordability’ but the gap is narrowing.
For more detailed information click here for a link to the Industrial and Distribution sector data and narrative.
To view the full report visit Caxtons 2021 Kent Market Property Report or download a pdf version here.
Mark Coxon, Head of Commercial
Rishi makes allowance for businesses
Business Rates made an appearance at last week’s budget with welcome news for many, still suffering from the aftermath of Covid.
With the promise of a fairer system and revaluations every three years yet to come (2023), The Chancellor handed an immediate 50% business rate relief to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for the coming 12 months. While this relief is capped to a maximum of £110,000, the cut is worth some £1.78bn he said. “Together with Small Business Rates Relief, this means that over 90% of all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will see a discount of at least 50%.”
He announced that while headline business rates would remain the same, the whole package, including a new green investment relief, and the cancellation of next year’s planned increase in the business rate multiplier “...would cut business rates by £7bn.” (This is the total of all business rate cuts when combined and viewed over the next five years).
Neil Chatterton, Managing Director of Caxtons said: “The budget announcement on business rates has come as a relief, in more ways than one for our small tenants.
However, with a maximum relief up to £110,000, it means that many bigger businesses will miss out. Add to that the confirmed increase in the National Minimum Wage, supply chain issues, staff shortages and the consequences of Brexit, the benefits may be outweighed by rising costs.
“The cancellation of the usual annual increase in the ‘multiplier’ – which determines the actual rates payable on a commercial property – is a shrewd move which will go down well with business occupiers.”
Neil concluded saying “The Chancellor and the Treasury had an unenviable task with this year’s budget. Their focus, rightly, had to be on repaying an unwanted debt accrued during Covid while still keeping the country’s hopes up. On the whole, there were some positives for business and it wasn’t the total doom and gloom disaster that some had predicted.
Whilst the short-term measures will generally be welcomed, the Chancellor appeared to rule out the root and branch reform of business rates as has been demanded by many occupiers for a considerable time. He suggested that to abolish business rates altogether would be irresponsible as it is a major source of revenue. However, this somewhat misses the point as generally what has been demanded is for business rates to be replaced with a fairer form of business tax, not for it to be abolished without replacement.
The Treasury also published its review of business rates on 27th October, Budget Day.
Innovators of a small, but beautifully presented student development in the World Heritage city of Canterbury are pleased that their Queningate accommodation has been well received.
They have busted many of the hackneyed misconceptions that surround student property including: student accommodation is detrimental to an area; builders cram in as many student units as possible; builders pay no heed to local community opinions; the over-riding objective is to achieve maximum return on income at the cost of aesthetics.
Queningate Mews and Queningate Court in Havelock Street were designed and built by Paul Roberts Canterbury and Abbott Construction respectively – a well-established partnership – whose focus was on consideration of the history of the area, communicating and consulting with the Havelock Street Society, local community and local authority, and taking on board all concerns before finalising their plans.
Through a policy of positive communications, they overcame hurdles along the way and worked with all concerned to arrive at what could be an award winning blueprint for the future.
During the build, local residents were high on the priority list and everything possible was done to mitigate disruption. Direct communication links were established with neighbours and when problems arose they were soon dealt with.
One local resident said “I was apprehensive about the plan to build a student residence close to my house and in our street. I am pleased to say that we were consulted throughout the process of construction, which involved only minimal disruption. The resulting building is a pleasing addition to the street, and the occupants have given us no problems.”
Originally a brownfield site, the new builds were designed to be sympathetic to the area in and around Havelock Street and blend in with their surroundings. Consequently, great attention has been paid to finishes both inside and out, to create a sense of pride and responsibility from tenants.
The properties sit quietly and unobtrusively – a result of the build in honey coloured Flemish bond. Inside their contemporary finishes emphasise the clean lines, laminate flooring and strong colour contrast in shower rooms.
Each of the 42 one double bedroom flats are wi-fi enabled with full fibre broadband, ample USB sockets and each is fully furnished, using modern stylish touches. There is a variety of layout options, but all flats have an open plan reception room with well defined sitting, dining and kitchen areas, and all are well equipped.
Every flat has a double bed and wardrobe; a desk and chair to work from; all kitchens are fully fitted with fridge freezer, 4 ring hob, electric oven, microwave, washer dryer and dishwasher; and generous shower rooms are the norm.
The properties are a one-minute walk to Christ Church University and five-minutes from the bus station and main shopping area, restaurants, hostelries and museums in the City Centre.
Caxtons Student Lettings department is delighted to have been appointed sole agents for the properties, which are already letting well and say that single tenants or couples are welcome. Video tours can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lddCaOn1EB0
Rishi Sunak’s second budget has received recognition for being generous, shrewd and pragmatic. The many pre-released and predictable initiatives were there, yet he still managed to pull some rabbits out of his hat.
There were positive announcements for businesses and house movers and the budget was welcomed by the Office for Budget Responsibility who forecast a more sustained and swifter recovery than predicted in November, with UK GDP recovering to pre-Covid levels by the middle of 2022, six months earlier than expected.
The Budget headlines that stood out for us were the variety of packages directed at the residential and property sector, and the businesses and individuals affected. In particular: an extension to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday until the end of June on properties up to £500,000, then reducing to exempt properties up to £250,000 from SDLT until September, then reverting to the norm; furlough support extended until September; and next month, a new initiative to help businesses re-open delivering loans and grants to replace current schemes. Due to re-open first, non-essential retail grants of up to £6,000 per premises will be available; hospitality and leisure – including hair and beauty salons and gymns – may be restricted in their re-opening, so could claim more generous grants of up to £18,000. All of these measures will assist our clients and tenants alike.
While there was little that will directly impact Caxtons, if Covid is kept under control by vaccination, test and trace, and other precautions we have become all too used to, the measures will help some of our commercial tenants in particular, and possibly landlords who wish to expand their property portfolios.
Graham Mitchell, Caxtons FD said: “I feel that it was on the whole a good balance between continued support where needed, investment in infrastructure projects and
“The hike in corporation tax from 19% to 25% in two years’ time was hardly unexpected. It will affect the pockets of directors and investors across the country, but collectively, we all have to do our bit to start repaying the enormous Covid debt.”
On the plus side, approximately 1.4 million businesses with profits of £50,000 or less will continue to pay corporation tax at the current rate of 19%. Thereafter, there will be an escalating rate on profits up to a maximum of £250,000, resulting in only the largest companies paying the full 25%.
“A top rate of 25% would mean that the UK is (currently) still positioned below many countries in the OECD including USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Australia and France. “
In order to embed his Covid recovery plans, the Chancellor also introduced additional business grants; for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors an extension to the business rates holiday until June this year with a 66% reduction until 31st March 2022; and VAT reductions for the hospitality and tourism sectors until the end of the tax year.
Graham continued: “I also hope that high street businesses across the county will take advantage of the new £5bn grant scheme to enable non-essential businesses to re-open (up to £6,000 per premises).”
One surprise ‘rabbit’ was that any corporate investment in plant and machinery made during the next two years will attract a reduction in tax liability equivalent to 130%. So, speculate to accumulate was definitely the message.
The Chancellor confirmed there will be eight new
freeports across England with one on our doorstep in the Thames Estuary.
As well as by means of the new Corporation Tax rates, the Treasury will claw back tax by holding personal allowances at £12,570 and the higher rate threshold at £50,270 until 2026 – so any pay increases during that time will all be subject to tax.
There were no changes to income tax, national insurance or VAT rates.
“We hope that this budget will bring more certainty, more positivity, enabling our clients to plan for the future and our tenants to experience restored job security. This is a budget designed to open the door to Covid recovery – a long way off, but a beginning. We shouldn’t be under any illusions that it will be easy or quick, but hopefully it will be successful in the long-run.”
If you would like to know more about how the 2021 Budget may impact your property needs please contact us on 01474 537733.
In recent years, 1SAGA was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, non-public sector employer in Kent. Its impact on the county and employment has been huge. Now it is restructuring and is selling 3 of its 4 Kent based offices – the 164,000 sq ft SAGA Contact Centre in Broadstairs, as well as Bouverie House and Cheriton Park House in Folkestone. Together the sites make up more than 10 acres. It is retaining its SAGA flagship HQ in Sandgate.
Speculation is rife on how the three properties will be used and who will acquire them. With ‘working from home’ becoming a new norm that is gathering momentum - lockdown by lockdown - the question for the future is not whether offices will be needed in such quantity, but how to re-purpose any existing redundant stock.
Conversation abounds. Will a potential developer convert Bouverie House into residential using permitted development rights (PDR), which would fulfil some of Folkestone’s housing requirement?
Working from home has encouraged an exodus from London, with some enlightened people heading for the Kentish coast where Folkestone has the added attraction
Could any or all of the buildings be retained as offices? Perhaps so, but maybe not with one large employer taking on whole buildings. Demand for office space across Kent has changed of late with enquiries mounting for small flexible space – possibly to be used by those who have no space or no desire to work from home. This solution, combined with other ‘mixed use’ could breathe new life into these and similar large office properties to stop them becoming abandoned relics of the past.
Alternatively, one or all 3 sites could be bought and levelled and redeveloped, subject to approval, and in close consultation with the two District Councils involved.
With all 3 properties now actively being marketed it will be interesting for property professionals and commentators, in Kent and beyond, to see what sort of interest they generate, who the investors are and what their intentions for any future use or development may be.
If available, progress regarding the sale and future plans for the buildings will be included in the 2021 Kent
1Sidney de Haan founded SAGA in 1951, a travel company exclusively for retirees. On his retirement, his son Roger continued to develop and expand the business.
Appointed as a CBE, Sir Roger de Haan left SAGA in 2004. He is a respected philanthropist and investor in Kent, and Folkestone in particular. He is well-known for his innovative vision and ongoing development of the seafront in Folkestone.
December 2020 was disheartening for the hospitality sector who faced further Covid-19 restrictions, so Caxtons was pleased to complete on a new lease for the iconic Green Room in the centre of Maidstone for one happy 'hospitality' tenant.
The building, previously a Pizza Express, which closed due to the pandemic, occupies a prestigious position directly opposite the Hazlitt Theatre at 32-34 Earl Street in the town centre.
Caxtons jointly marketed the property and Managing Director Neil Chatterton says he “...was really pleased when Richie Carrera, Managing Partner of Unity Parties Ltd1 and a well-known dj, and events and promotions manager showed interest.
The Unity group comprises Richie, Daniel Adams, Matt Shead and Chris Ansell, and they have agreed a new 10-year lease from landlords, The Gravesend and District Real Estate Company Limited.
“Richie was born in Leeds, but is now a devoted resident of Maidstone and has been for the past 15-years. He and his partners have great ambitions for the Green Room and plans for an Easter weekend opening – all being well and bearing in mind Covid restrictions. We are delighted that we were able to agree terms with Richie and his team, and that the letting happened so fast, which was thanks to both parties working closely together.”
The imposing Italianate style Grade II listed building is arranged over four floors, including basement, and has a total gross internal area of approximately 8,930 sq ft. A Premises Licence is already in place and, when let, the building had a variety of customer, staff and administrative areas. When marketed, on its first, second and third floors, the property featured a reception area,
However, Richie has exciting plans to reinvigorate and make use of the whole building, which include:
• a Whiskey & Gin Bar – for which sponsorship has already be agreed with Bullet Bourbon, and Richie is in talks with Maidstone Gin, which they hope to stock
• Back Yard restaurant, serving Napoli Pizza – making great use of the pizza oven
• The 80s Den – inspired by the 80s with a pool table, 80's arcade games & its own unique bar & seating.
• Deep Routed Wax – a vinyl record shop
• the old Jazz Club will remain and be used as an events space
• and on the top floor will be a Members Only club - the Sky Lounge – serving champagne and cocktails, which will have a limited membership of 200, by invitation
Richie and the team are currently decorating and fitting out the property in readiness for the forthcoming opening and are already offering a takeaway service.
Richie’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his successful track record bodes well for the future. He says his biggest claim to fame was being the promoter to convince Idris Elba into a full DJ set at EGG London. In addition, Richie was promotions manager for We Are FSTVL for 2-years and he’s run his own successful events company for many years.
If you are a tenant, landlord or owner and are interested in finding out more about the property
1Unity Parties Ltd : partners
Daniel Adams - Runs his own successful tech company, building apps and web sites
Chris Ansell – joint owner of Signs & More, the ever growing sign company based in Aylesford
Matt Shead - is Manager of the family owned & run Brookside Garden Centre in Paddock Wood
Whether you are a tenant or an owner occupier, in cold weather it can be difficult to avoid condensation and the tell-tale rivulets of water running down the inside of windows or walls, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.
Condensation is usually the result of occupancy, when even breathing will deposit damp vapour into the atmosphere, although occasionally it can be the outcome of a damp wall or similar issue in the building.
At its worse, condensation, or a build-up of moisture in the air, can lead to mould – a living organism or fungus made up of spores, that can be detrimental to health, possessions and even the fabric of a building. So, it is vital to keep on top of any issues arising from condensation, and treat as soon as you become aware that there is a problem.
Moisture is always in the air, even if you cannot see it. When there is a difference of temperature – say between rooms, or inside and out – the air cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water form. This is condensation. You notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over in the bathroom.
It can appear on cold surfaces and in places where there is little movement of air. Look for it in corners, on or near windows or on walls behind furniture. In bad cases it can also occur inside cupboards and wardrobes. The problem can be worst on north-facing walls, and on walls exposed to the prevailing wind (because these are typically colder). Black mould often starts to form if there is a persistent problem.
Obvious causes of condensation can be as simple as a lack of ventilation and changes in temperature, although sometimes other problems are present and will need to be investigated. Condensation is often characterised by mildew and by areas of black mould, particularly in colder areas.
You will need to take appropriate and the correct steps to deal with the causes of condensation, but you can start immediately to reduce the problem:
Begin with wiping down the windows and sills every morning and then wring out the cloth rather than drying it on a radiator. You can also try to ensure that steam from the bathroom and kitchen doesn't spread round the property. Close internal doors and open windows to let any steam out.
Condensation channels and sponge strips can be bought at DIY shops. They are fitted to windows to collect the condensation and thus help prevent window frames from rotting and avoid damp forming under sills. Care must be taken to fit these devices properly.
First treat any mould already in your property. If you then deal with the basic causes of condensation, mould should not re-appear.
To kill and remove mould, wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash which carries a Health and Safety Executive 'approval number', following the manufacturers' instructions precisely. Dry-clean any clothes affected by mildewed, and shampoo carpets. Disturbing mould by brushing or vacuum cleaning can increase the risk of respiratory problems as it disperses the spores that make up the mould.
After treatment, redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint to help prevent future mould growth. Note that this paint is not effective if overlaid with ordinary paints or wallpaper.
How to avoid Condensation
These four steps will help you reduce the condensation in your home:
1. Produce less moisture
Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture quickly.
2. Ventilate to remove the moisture
You can ventilate your home without making draughts.
Some ventilation is needed to get rid of moisture that is being produced all the time, much of which comes from breathing so keep a small window or a trickle-ventilator open when anyone is in the room.
You need much more ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom when cooking, washing up, bathing or drying clothes. This means opening windows wider using a humidistat-controlled electric fan (these come on automatically when the air becomes humid, and are cheap to run).
Close kitchen and bathroom doors when these rooms are in use, even if your kitchen or bathroom has an extractor fan. A door-closer is advisable. Doing this will help stop the moisture reaching other rooms, especially bedrooms, which are often colder and more likely to suffer condensation.
Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes. Avoid putting too much in them as that stops air circulating. Subject to ownership (whether you are a tenant or owner), cut a ventilation slot in the back of each shelf or use slatted shelves; cut 'breather' holes in doors and in the back of wardrobes. Leave space between the back of the wardrobe and the wall; put floor-mounted furniture on blocks to allow air underneath. Where possible, position wardrobes and furniture against internal walls (walls which have a room on both sides) rather than against outside walls.
If you replace window units at any time, make sure that the new frames incorporate trickle-ventilators. You should also ensure that some openable part of each window is at the top so as to avoid 'dead-spaces' that will not get adequate ventilation.
3. Insulate and draughtproof
Loft, cavity wall insulation and draughtproofing of windows and outside doors will help keep your home warm and you will have lower fuel bills too. When the whole home is warm, condensation is less likely.
In a house or bungalow, insulating the loft is a cost-effective way of cutting heating costs. Remember to draughtproof the loft-hatch but do not block the opening under the eaves.
Cavity-wall insulation is an effective way of cutting heating costs. However, before deciding on this route, talk to your local building inspector as building regulations approval is needed.
Secondary or double glazing windows reduces heat-loss and draughts, but ensure that there is sufficient ventilation. However warm a building is, locking all moisture inside it will cause high humidity and potential problems.
4. Heat your home a little more
In cold weather, keep rooms warm enough to avoid condensation by maintaining low background heating all day, even when no one is at home. This is very important in flats and bungalows and other dwellings where bedrooms are not above a warm living room. So, if possible, install a small heater with a thermostat in each bedroom (but do not use a paraffin or flueless bottled gas heater for this purpose). The thermostat will help control heating and costs.
Dehumidifiers help dry out damp in newly built houses and can also help reduce condensation in warm rooms with a lot of moisture, but they are of little use in cold damp rooms.
Points to remember
Produce less moisture:
Ventilate to remove moisture:
Insulate and draughtproof:
Heat your home a little more:
With the worst of the winter weather yet to come and many people working from home it is more important than ever to inspect your property and be prepared.
Planning for an ‘unexpected’ event may appear unrealistic, but with good management and forethought it is possible to avoid some, and manage other unforeseen scenarios before they become crises. For instance:
Many weather conditions such as rain, ice, snow, wind and freezing temperatures, can cause damage, but will generally only result in a major problem if a property is not in good repair.
Undertaking a winter health check on your property is important and should include inspecting the guttering, roofs and water pipes, confirm the heating system is in good working order, and most importantly, ensure you have adequate insurance cover and meet all the policy conditions. If all these boxes are ticked, you should be fully covered if you do ever have to make a claim.
In addition, it is advisable to check entrances and exits and consider whether you should have sand, grit or salt available to reduce the possibility of anyone falling at or on your property. Claims for injury can be expensive, so do everything you can to protect yourself and visitors. If you own business premises and staff are working on site it is more important than ever to undertake a Risk Assessment and adhere to this advice.
Make sure everyone is aware of what you have planned and where the sand is kept – in an easily accessible place – otherwise your best intentions and preparation may all fall apart!
Everyone living in a flood risk area should be aware and do everything they can to prevent ingress of water. However, sometimes it is impossible.
In that eventuality it is vital to know what to do and to proceed with great care in case of contamination, electrocution or other risk.
If flooded, the policyholder must contact their insurer or broker as soon as possible so that the claim can be dealt with swiftly.
The policyholder should:
The insurer or broker should inform the policyholder of the clean-up process to:
It is important to check that you have is adequate cover.
Underinsurance was estimated at 79% in a report released earlier this year by Rebuild Cost Assessment. And based on claims made in 2015/16, Zurich believe that the cost of reinstatement following a flooding incident is between £24,000 and £46,000 – a good yardstick by which to assess whether you are fully covered.
The National Audit Office has recently revealed that flood defence funding has fallen in deprived areas, so this could cause extreme hardship.
Morag Keohane, Head of Insurance at Caxtons says “Whilst we would normally expect to be able to include flood cover in the insurance policies we arrange, this does depend on claims history and property location. However, we are always more than happy to provide quotes for consideration, so it pays to ask the question.”
Industrial and distribution property sector flourishes in Kent
The 29th Kent Property Market Report (KPMR) reveals in excess of 500,000 sq m new industrial and distribution space is either under construction or has been granted planning permission across the county, with one particularly exciting 177,000 sq m project for Panattoni, the privately-owned industrial developer, in the pipeline.
This is a welcome boost to the local economy, property sector and hopefully, an indicator of jobs to come.
Launched on Wednesday 4th at a virtual event, Caxtons Chartered Surveyors researched and compiled the Report, which was produced in partnership with Kent County Council and Locate in Kent. Invited guests dialled in to watch the launch, amongst them property professionals, investors and sector specialists.
With the end of the Brexit transition period in sight, Caxtons’ Sue Foxley presented statistics that underpin how developers, speculators and businesses have all been preparing for a new way of operating, and why Kent has found itself benefitting from its location, just 20 miles from Europe.
Coronavirus has added to the chaos and caused global disruption to trade routes and worldwide economies alike. So, a double whammy of Brexit and coronavirus on future supply chain security has been at the forefront of this increased activity, bringing welcome investment in the county and sector.
Industrial / distribution space has always been at a premium in Kent, but more so in the past year. This has driven rental growth up by 14% in the space of 12-months.
Mark Coxon, Director and Head of Commercial Agency at Caxtons said “We are encouraged by the level of activity across the industrial and distribution sector, especially in relation to what is coming on stream.
“The pandemic and lockdown has brought about a 180 degree change in consumption habits, which together with Brexit, has resulted in a greater demand and a rush to secure premises.”
In summary Ron Roser, Chairman of Caxtons, was sanguine saying there was reason for optimism “...with investor confidence in logistics and distribution, healthcare and life sciences – all these industries are bucking the trend in Kent and beyond.”
by Morag Keohane Dip CII, Head of Insurance
A recently released report from Rebuild Cost Assessment based on 11,000 property assessments during the past 12-months warns that buildings' underinsurance continues to be endemic. It identifies a significant problem for business premises and the private rental sector (PRS), where there is a ‘massive shortfall’ in cover.
New regulations and tax rules have challenged investment property owners, residential management companies and residential landlords, who have seen returns on assets diminish. Consequently, some may think an easy way to recoup loss could be by reducing their insurance outlay. Covid-19 has been the final straw for many, but neglecting adequate buildings insurance cover is a false economy and could prove incredibly expensive.
In the face of a disaster, the last thing anyone wants is an insurer not to pay a claim in full because the policy holder is not suitably covered.
Understanding how insurers arrive at a policy premium for a building may be helpful:
Risk = £cover
There are several factors that can affect how much insurance a buyer needs, and if there is any uncertainty, this is where the advice from an insurance broker can be invaluable.
If the level of cover proves to be too low, the insured could face large financial losses when making a claim.
What will affect cost and cover:
One shocking statistic highlighted in the report suggests that the shortfall in insurance cover for PRS properties across the UK could be as much as £315 billion and could equate to 79% of buildings being underinsured.
Most buildings insurance policies include an average clause that penalises the insured by reducing the claim by the same % that the property is underinsured. And at the time of the loss this will be devastating.
Last year, a leading firm of property valuation experts found that over 50% of the properties they valued were underinsured. The re-valuations that were carried out required an approximate uplift of between 50-55% in reinstatement costs.
Usually, the first time a property owner is aware they have a problem is when they want to make a claim.
At best, policy holders end up in unnecessary and lengthy negotiations with insurers to find a mutually acceptable conclusion to a claim. More often than not this will involve a reduction in the claim and, in some cases, where underinsurance is found to be deliberate, no settlement.
True value at risk £1,000,000
Sum insured £900,000
Amount of claim £100,000
Settlement figure £90,000
Insuring for the correct amount and paying a small difference in annual premium will avoid having to find a £10,000 shortfall towards a £100,000 loss should disaster ever strike.
If a reinstatement cost assessment (RCA) is carried out every three years by a qualified RICS surveyor, the condition of average is waived under Caxtons’ bespoke policy wording.
What to do:
According to the latest Plimsoll Analysis, Caxtons has been rated as ‘strong’ – their highest category rating - against 366 (estate) agents in the UK who are considered to be in the ‘danger’ zone, with a further 220 companies rated ‘caution’ and 136 ‘mediocre’.
Plimsoll reviewed 2,400 of the top UK (estate) agents in the sector, using specific criteria to determine an overall financial position. In order to achieve this analysis, it reviews and rates each company and provides relevant information by which others can determine the strength of a business when compared to direct competitors.
Following individual analysis, whilst Caxtons achieved its rating and is considered to have a strong financial base, companies given a ‘danger’ rating are categorised as ‘must improve or will fail’.
The analysis takes in to consideration the difficulties that businesses have faced during 2020 and concludes that with so much uncertainty its findings are more important than ever - presumably in the face of a global economy in decline and a pandemic once again gaining strength.
Caxtons is delighted to learn that others consider its position in the market is as strong as ever.
by Neil Chatterton : Managing Director, Caxtons Chartered Surveyors*
Eurostar has announced it will operate a non-stop service from Europe to London St Pancrass and will not reinstate the Ashford and Ebbsfleet International station stops en route until at least 2022. This has dismayed me, and all my colleagues at Caxtons.
Eurostar removed these stations from its schedule back in March, but attributed their recent decision to extend to 2022 due to a 90% fall-off in bookings since Covid-19 and lockdown. Travellers will still be able to reach destinations in Kent, but not without effort and lost time, using High Speed-1 (HS1) trains to Ebbsfleet and Ashford.
A primary and obvious victim is tourist traffic, especially with quarantine restrictions already a major disincentive for travel to the UK.
However, another casualty of Eurostar’s decision will be towns such as Ashford and Ebbsfleet Garden City that have been particularly pro-active in marketing themselves as ideally located for both the UK and Europe and have attracted businesses and investment because of that.
Eurostar’s by-passing these destinations, albeit temporarily, may make them less attractive for inward investors.
Both areas, trail blazers in Kent, are served by Eurostar and HS1 and have, when compared to other regions in the country, enjoyed relatively sustained and buoyant commercial and residential property markets - even
The recently launched Ashford Property Market Report (APMR) highlights that prior to the pandemic, Ashford had seen a positive retail environment with rental growth of 5% despite significant structural change in the sector.
The town’s office market was also benefiting from the fast access to London and the continent. Recent years has seen the arrival of a number of tech and professional services companies specifically noting transport connectivity as a factor in their decision-making. This has driven rental growth. Prime office rents have grown 25% during the past five years. The loss of this connectivity is
Neil Chatterton (r)
Ashford has also seen robust growth in industrial rents, rising 38% over the last five years.
Reflecting the growing appeal of the location as a business centre, residential values in the town have risen ahead of the Kent average over the last 12 months, up 1.8% compared with 1.5% for Kent as a whole. Prices stand 21% ahead of where they did five years ago.
Ideally positioned with easy access to major motorways and the rest of the country, Ebbsfleet too has land and incentives to build business premises and attract organisations and enterprises from both the UK and Europe.
With the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ending on 31st December 2020, it is more important than ever to keep established ‘hubs’ across the country open and working, in order for businesses both sides of the channel to continue seamless trading.
Very real fears of job losses as a consequence cannot be overlooked or underestimated.
At Caxtons, we would back efforts, by both local and national government, to lobby and talk, and encourage Eurostar to reconsider its decision.
*For the past 8 years, Caxtons has been engaged in compiling the annual Kent Property Market Report (KPMR) (2013 – 2020), and has also researched data and provided analysis for the Ashford Property Market Reports.
Caxtons was pleased to assist in providing the research and analysis for the newly released second Ashford Property Market Report.
The Report is produced by Ashford Borough Council, and Caxtons uses research from the Kent Property Market Report (2019), combined with new research and in-depth analysis, to bring together an overview of how the local market is performing.
The report gives a valuable insight for both professionals and inward investors whose focus is property – as well as other businesses interested in areas of growth.
This year’s report highlights that even with Covid-19 in the equation, prime office rents have grown 33% during the past five years. Ashford also leads the county with above average prime industrial rent, and retail rents increased by 5% when measured across 3-years (to Q3 ’19), although this figure is likely to be one of the casualties of the pandemic and lockdown. Residential values are, on average, up 22% over the last five years.
Neil Chatterton, Managing Director of Caxtons, said: “Last year’s Report was welcomed by the sector as providing a useful tool and insight into the trends pertaining to the Ashford property market. We were pleased to work with Ashford Borough Council once again and to provide the research for the 2019/2020 Property Market Report.
“The report shows that, in general, Ashford performed better than many other areas across Kent. Ashford Borough Council has been proactive, intervening and shaping their own destiny in a number of ways, including the purchase and management of the Park Mall shopping
centre and early involvement with the Connect 38 development, which have seen positive results. It has also promoted the town to a wider audience encouraging new residents, developers and investors.”
Leader of Ashford Borough Council, Cllr Gerry Clarkson said: “The property landscape is very different from when we launched the first Ashford Property Market Report at Connect 38 last year, but the findings of this year’s report are equally important.
“Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Ashford is still very much leading the way for inward investment and regeneration. In the past year alone, we have seen the opening of the state-of-the-art Curious Brewery, the completion of the £90 million Ashford Designer Outlet expansion and launch of the much-needed co-working and event space at the Coachworks, to name a few.
“There’s certainly some really positive findings to come out of this year’s report, but more importantly it’s about generating a conversation among stakeholders about what the future holds for the Ashford property market. I think the future is very promising indeed."
Ashford is geographically well placed with High Speed-1 journeys to London taking 38-minutes and the new M20 junction 10a, which opened in October 2019 and make the area attractive to developers and investors alike. And with Covid still on the agenda, Ashford is surrounded by some of the most beautiful green spaces at the heart of the Garden of England.
Implications for Clients with Business Interruption Insurance
Caxtons is an appointed representative of Morrison Insurance Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Recently, Ian Millard, MD of Morrison Insurance Solutions wrote the following article on an FCA case about Covid-19 insurance cover, which is currently going through the courts.
There has been much confusion over the COVID-19 crisis and the response from insurers. In an attempt to gain greater clarity over policy cover the FCA have started a High Court action against a number of insurers. We have had a number of queries regarding the Test Case and what it means for commercial policyholders; we hope this note will help you to understand the process and how it might affect you.
The aim of the Test Case is to bridge the current wide gap in how certain policy terms and clauses are interpreted. By acting quickly with its own test case the FCA hopes to speed up the process rather than to wait for various individual and class action cases to be heard,
Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive at the FCA said: ‘The court action we are taking is aimed at providing clarity and certainty for everyone involved in these BI disputes, policyholder and insurer alike. We feel it is also the quickest route to this clarity and by covering multiple policies and insurers, it will also be of most use across the market.’
The proceedings are focussed on potential cover for business interruption (BI) losses. Traditionally, BI policies cover loss of revenue or profit following damage, such as a storm or fire. Some policies also provide additional
cover for so-called ‘non-physical damage’ such as closure of premises, denial of access or cover for certain diseases. It is these extensions that have proved controversial and are now being tested in the High Court.
The FCA have selected a sample of policies to represent the majority of disputes. If the outcome is that policies should pay out the FCA will expect all insurers – even those outside the Court Case – to react accordingly.
The FCA Requirement for Claimants and Complainants:
Many policyholders have submitted claims, some of which may have been concluded. Others have formally complained when their claim has been declined. The FCA have instructed insurers to contact those customers who might be affected to draw their attention to the Test Case and the potential outcome.
We are starting to see these communications and are getting in touch with clients to discuss what it means, although it is possible that some insurers may send them direct without copying us in.
Customers who have not submitted a claim or made a formal complaint to Insurers:
We appreciate that some clients may not have submitted a Business Interruption claim for COVID-19 related losses. Others may have only made enquiries about whether they have cover. In such cases, even if your policy wording is in the scope of the FCA Court Case, Insurers will not be communicating with you as they have nothing to formally respond to.
The hearing is scheduled to start on 20th July and is likely to last between 3 and 8 days. The judges will then retire to consider their verdict and they should then indicate when their judgement should be delivered.
The FCA action could be positive for many policyholders and we hope this note explains the process. We are committed to helping our clients during these difficult times so please also visit the COVID-19 FAQs section of our web site for further information.
Caxtons, one of the leading firms of chartered surveyors in the south east is again major sponsor and contributor of the Kent Property Market Report (KPMR), which is a joint enterprise with Kent County Council and Locate in Kent.
The 2020 edition, to be launched in November, is the 29th Kent Property Market Report and will, as in previous years, tap into the combined property expertise of our team who work closely with industry partners, developers and investors. We will deliver a detailed and credible source of property analysis, information and updates across all property sectors in Kent and Medway.
The Report will also consider the future prospects for the industry with the inclusion of Caxtons’ property outlook for 2020 / 2021.
The Report examines performance of the county’s business parks, offices, industrial, retail and housing sectors. It provides a summary of infrastructure and regeneration projects at a district-level and the county’s strategic developments and game-changer projects.
The last edition was prepared against a backdrop of uncertainty because of Brexit and its outcomes. The analysis for this year’s Report will be even more challenging, due to the effects of Covid-19, lockdown and the continued prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
Agents have been asked to share information about their property deals, and developers, architects, planners and associates have been asked to provide quality images of their projects, a feature of the annual Report*.
The unveiling of this year’s Kent Property Market Report is planned for early on Wednesday 4th November. The launch will bring together the county’s property experts, investors and public sector to receive not only a first edition of the Report, but - hopefully - a full-English breakfast, although if not possible, it will be presented at an interactive virtual conference.
The 2019 report can be downloaded here
Guests at the latest Ebbsfleet Executive Club* enjoyed an update on the regeneration of Gravesend town centre.
More than 60 guests attended the event where Peter Langly-Smith, Senior Development Manager at Reef, gave an update on the regeneration of Gravesend town centre.
Reef is an urban intervention specialist who, in the past 18 years, have created “a £4 billion, 4 million sq ft, retail, leisure, hotel, workplace and residential UK regeneration portfolio.”
Peter explained to the audience that Reef’s investment in urban regeneration was led by a strong ethos of design, innovation, collaboration, place and technology.
With an impressive portfolio of recently completed and current schemes, he said that a prime attraction to work on the Gravesend Town Centre regeneration project is the town’s location and connectivity - locally, nationally and internationally – which is enviable.
High speed rail to London, the coast and the continent put Gravesend in a key position. In addition, the support of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, Gravesham Borough Council and Thames Gateway Kent Partnership,
CGI of The Charter
demonstrate their ambition for, and faith in the town and surrounding area, by their collaborative approach to promoting it far and wide.
The specific area for regeneration that Reef is undertaking involves the shopping centre and St George’s Place, The Charter and High Street – a significant part of the town centre – and the work has been divided into two defined Phases.
While Peter acknowledged the challenges of retail, the shopping centre was the first part of the scheme and the refurbishment was completed in Phase I. This has resulted in a lighter, brighter, better signed and safer place for people to visit, with the objective of encouraging them to re-visit time and again.
A planning application is imminent for The Charter, in the eastern quarter, and is mainly residential with a wide ranging and diverse housing mix. This has been designed to integrate and enhance the area next to the indoor market.
In Phase II, St Georges development will include the church, which is at the heart of the town, and they are seeking an ‘anchor’ project – possibly a town centre hotel - with more residential, retail and leisure.
The aim of Gravesend’s regeneration is for it to become a destination for residents and visitors alike, creating an all-day spend - whether through retail or leisure pursuits – and appropriate housing for all needs and tastes.
* Caxtons, in conjunction with accountants Wilkins Kennedy and Gullands Solicitors, organised and hosted the event.
Caxtons has renewed its Patronage of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce (KICC) and is looking forward to its fourth year as a Patron, in what it trusts is a more positive political and economic climate.
David Gurton, Marketing & Business Development Director said "By participating in the many events and opportunities that KICC organises and hosts, we have made useful contacts in the business community right across Kent – and some in the most unexpected fields.
"Through attending the briefings and networking events, we have expanded our knowledge of other members’ disciplines.
At the same time, we hope to have imparted some of our property expertise to others. We endeavour to educate others about the sector, communicating via our e-news to participating members and shared articles on the KICC website. Hopefully, this has alerted members to issues affecting commercial property, and helped them and their businesses alike."
KICC Chief Executive Jo James with Caxtons' MD Neil Chatterton; Marketing Director David Gurton and Chairman Ron Roser
Danson Sports FC 7-a-side U10s White post-victory
Caxtons, sponsors of the Danson Sports FC new 7-a-side (U10s) football team, was thrilled at their 7-1 victory at the weekend. That’s 4 wins in a row, and if they keep up this form, promotion to the next league looks promising.
An FA Charter Standard Community Club, Danson Sports has been granted the highest accolade an amateur Club can achieve.During the past 4-years the club has grown and now boasts in excess of 50 teams ranging from U7 to open age football with 600+ players involved with this popular and thriving club.
Having a 3G artificial playing surface, installed in 2018, Danson Sports is a very busy club. External groups and companies regularly hire the pitches and there are lots of events held in the clubhouse throughout the year.
The U10s team (pictured) is just a part of the busy and happy Danson family group.James Squire who works in Caxtons’ Turkey Mill offices in Maidstone, helps train the boys and says: “I am over the moon with the U10s – they are a brilliant bunch and so deserve this success.
”They all work hard and are incredibly happy that their efforts are paying off. We are all really chuffed.”
When deciding to sponsor the team David Gurton, Marketing Director at Caxtons said: " We believe that this gesture will help support young talent, most of whom may not end up as the next Gareth Bale, but their time at Danson will hopefully go some way to teaching them how to become important team players."
If they keep on at this rate who knows ... there may be a few budding Gareth Bales after all!
According to the latest Plimsoll Analysis, Caxtons has seen its value rise and has been named as one of the
Caxtons' Directors at an Away Day in the summer
The analysis also identified some competitor performance is in decline, that 2020 will herald change across the market and predicts '...645 companies (will) see sales fall, 115 (will) suffer heavy losses but 664 (will) continue to outperform the rest of the market.'
Once they have examined the results from 1,500 of the UK sector's leading companies – then overlaid the information with previous trends and market insights - this guides their analysis and enabled them to publish their 'market trends' for the forthcoming 12-months.
Plimsoll continuously reviews and updates the information it gathers from the sample companies.
Now we know - with more clarity and margin than the most positive Tory would dare to have predicted - that a Conservative majority (of 80 seats) returns Boris Johnson to Westminster as Prime Minister. Now and for the next the next five years.
The property sector can expect change.
Already, housebuilders' shares have gained, presumably showing relief that some of the more extreme Labour policies on land and property would now be cast into history.
Commentators across the estate agency and lettings sector are expecting a 'bounce' for the property market as a direct result of the large majority achieved.
Stamp Duty Land Tax, which has had a massive effect and caused inertia in the housing market, was not
There are questions over the Conservative pledge to end Section 21 evictions and the impact this may have by deterring buy to let landlords from entering the market.
In addition, the Tories announced another major overhaul of planning in an attempt to energise the house building sector with a promise to build 1m more affordable and private homes by 2025.
A collective sigh of relief will come from retail landlords with empty shop premises. No longer will Labour's threat of sequester in their 'use it or lose it' policy of letting premises at any price, hang over them.
These are just a few of the policies announced pre-election – now is the time for the new Conservative government to prove the trust that the nation has placed in them and get on with the job in hand.
On Tuesday 10th December, Kent was on show at JLL's Warwick Street offices for the London launch of the 2019 Kent Property Market Report (KPMR), which Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, the report author and headline sponsor, publish annually in conjunction with Kent County Council and Locate In Kent.
Andy Harding of JLL welcomed 60 London property professionals to the launch, including representatives from Savills, Cushman Wakefield, CBRE, Commercial Estates Group along with other agents, investors and developers. Opening proceedings, he said that Kent is now on the map for its land availability, access to staff and 'value for money' land and property prices.
The main findings of the research were then presented by Sue Foxley, from Caxtons.
In brief, they showed 2019 has seen Kent's property and land values rise across a number of sectors, with both local and inward investors seeking and obtaining a variety of commercial and residential property prospects, including industrial, office and development options.
Two of the main reasons for Kent's property resilience were its relative affordability when compared other parts of the South East and its ease of access to London, Europe and beyond.
Despite national developers now active across Kent, the market is frustrated by a shortage of stock in the industrial and distribution market. However, there has still been an 11% increase in average prime rents over the past 12-months. This is brought into sharp focus by Medway, which has seen a remarkable 67% increase in prime industrial rents during the last 3 years.
Office to residential conversions over recent years have depleted the town centre office stock in many towns across the county. The supply shortages have driven rental growth resulting in a 35% increase in average prime rents over the past five years. Gravesend is a case in point with prime office rents across the last three years seeing an 85% increase. A growing representation of knowledge-based and creative businesses is taking space in the county's town centres, attracted by increasingly dynamic urban environments and excellent transport accessibility, which supports flexible working practices.
Sue Foxley from Caxtons presenting the 2019 findings
The growth in the highly skilled scientific and technical sectors is particularly prevalent on Kent's business parks. The impact of this is seen in economic performance – the economic output of Kent's ICT sector has grown by 118% over the last two decades.
Guests were then updated by Andrew Osborne of Ashford Borough Council on Newtown Works, a proposed mixed-use development
This was followed by Ian Piper, Chief Executive Officer of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) who briefed on progress at Ebbsfleet. The latest news is that EDC has purchased 125 hectares around Ebbsfleet International Station. Initial plans comprise up to 3,500 homes, 1-2m sq ft of commercial space, civic centre uses with supporting retail and leisure uses. Currently it is in the early stages of planning, but EDC is already seeking developer and occupier interest.
Finally, Dawn Hudd from Medway Council informed guests about winning government funding for road, rail and green infrastructure on the Hoo Peninsular. This will facilitate up to 10,600 homes and significant areas of commercial space.
Guests at the 2019 KPMR London launch
To view the 2019 KPMR visit the Kent Property Market Report 2019.
The 2019 Kent Property Market Report (KPMR) reveals that Kent's industrial and logistics property sector is continuing to deliver strong returns.
Strong national demand for more warehousing and logistics space, stimulated by structural changes to the retail sector alongside Brexit preparations, has resulted in the industrial sector being Kent's best performing as highlighted in the report .
Industrial rents increased by 11% over the year to June. The level of rise in rents has been greater than in any other property sector in Kent. A number of major sites came to market and developer-led schemes received funding, both of which helped to increase activity, as did the construction of new space.
According to the report, Kent is now seen as a viable destination by business occupiers with relative affordability and good accessibility to London (and Europe) scoring highly when compared to elsewhere in the South East.
Investors and developers now have Kent on their radar, especially for warehousing and logistics.
The report unveils that Kent's rural market has remained resilient, and appetite for farmland remains largely unchanged.
According to Savills, who provided information on the rural market, for good quality land, buyers have been paying sensible prices – and prices rise when there is a level of competition involved over specific parcels of land.
Even lower value land is drawing in buyers, especially those looking to the future and support for environmental stewardship, who are investing while it is relatively inexpensive to do so.
Mike Wooldridge, Head of the Kent Office at Savills, said: "...farmland has proved a safe and secure investment in recent years and outperformed many other property sectors, and is expected to ride out the current Brexit-related pressures."
Click on image to view flipbook or download pdf here.
Kent, for years known as the Garden of England, with famous seaside resorts and popular visitor attractions, has always been a destination county.
The county's leisure and tourism industry supports 77,000 jobs and annually adds more than £3.8bn to Kent's economy. During the past year, this has proved attractive to major investors.
According to Visit Kent, who provided visitor sector information for this year's KPMR, there is continued confidence in the leisure sector.
Investment in Kent on long-standing attractions and projects by English Heritage, the National Trust, Canterbury Cathedral, and The Historic Dockyard Chatham has been supported by external commitment from the visitor accommodation market such as budget, boutique and specialist hotels and places to stay.
Kent's food and drink industry has also attracted increased interest strengthened by a £4m investment in a winery at Hush Heath and established Chapel Down Winery's investment in the Curious Brewery in Ashford.
And events, such as hosting the 2019 Turner Prize at Turner Contemporary in Margate and next year The Open at Royal St George's, Golf Course, Sandwich, help to raise Kent's profile and ease of access on both the national and international stage.
Kent Property Market Report poll results
The 250 guests from the property and other business sectors who attended the launch of the 2019 Kent Property Market Report participated in an online poll focusing on the county's property market.
Working across a multitude of the various property sectors, Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, a firm born and based in Kent, is acutely aware of the problems that many in local society are faced with, and know that much of that disadvantage is not self-made.
For over 25 years, Caxtons has been acting for the 1.Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust and, when approached by them to sponsor a category at their 2019 Charity Awards saw an ideal opportunity to support the Trust's laudable objectives and address their own concerns.
A glittering Awards dinner was held at Shakespeare's Underglobe on London's South Bank on 7th November, at which Kent's outstanding charities and community group award winners were announced and their work celebrated.
The Awards encompassed seven categories and Caxtons sponsored:
The category winner was 2.Construction Youth Trust, a charity whose aim is to inspire and enable young people to overcome barriers and discover a career in the construction and built environment sector.
The two other finalists were:
Neil Chatterton, Managing Director of Caxtons said it was a privilege to sponsor the award, in Colyer-Fergusson's own words – an opportunity to thank organisations that the Trust has funded over the last five years and show them how much we appreciate what they do.
"At Caxtons we like to support local charitable endeavours but this is particularly close to our hearts.
"A worthy winner, Construction Youth Trust assists and enables the very lifeblood of our industry. The property sector encompasses many and diverse fields - from land, architecture, construction, surveying, sales, lettings and managing – and is a vital part of the built environment and our day to day existence.
"A charity that helps young people to achieve goals and reach their full potential in our industry has to be applauded."
Construction Youth Trust has established a hub at Ebbsfleet in Kent where it is building long term relationships with schools, organisations and employers in order to address local issues of low skills and youth unemployment. In addition, it challenges the misconceptions about the career opportunities available in the construction and built environment sectors.
The event was hosted by celebrity the 3.Reverend Richard Coles, vicar of St Mary The Virgin, Finedon in Northamptonshire, broadcaster and celebrity.
Construction Youth Trust receiving their Award:
Far left: Neil Chatterton, Caxtons' Managing Director; members of Construction Youth Trust; Far right: Rev. Richard Coles.
1. The Colyer-Fergusson Trust was founded by James Colyer-Fergusson in order to give something back to the county he loved and in this, their 50th anniversary year, a number of events have been held to celebrate his philanthropy and generosity. The Trust's vision is of a fairer and more equal Kent.
2. Construction Youth Trust inspires and enables young people to overcome barriers and discover a career in the construction and built environment sector. The trust focuses on those harder to reach young people in areas of deprivation with limited opportunities available to them. They (the trust) support young people to progress successfully into a rewarding career suited to their abilities and interests.
3. The Rev Richard Coles first came to fame as one of Communards duo, performing with Jimmy Sommerville. He is a writer, journalist, radio presenter and has participated in Celebrity Masterchef, Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity Mastermind and made guest appearances on Have I got News for You, Would I Lie to You amongst numerous other television programmes.
The 2019 Kent Property Market Report reveals business owners and tenants see Kent as a viable option over other areas in the south east.
Ease of access, the county's position close to Europe and relative affordability is driving demand for premises from a variety of businesses, investors and developers, especially in the warehousing and logistics sector.
However, the Report also highlights there is limited investment stock available and says more speculative development is needed to fulfil the growing demand.
Author and headline sponsor Caxtons Chartered Surveyors produce the annual Report in conjunction with Kent County Council and Locate in Kent.
Significant findings in this, the 28th edition of the Report, reveal that Kent has performed well thanks to the strengthening perception of its comparative value for money in the south east, with house prices remaining relatively affordable, which has driven demand, particularly in our commuter towns.
New homes are earmarked for Ebbsfleet Garden City, Ashford and Otterpool near Hythe. The report argues that more needs to be done to encourage office developers and investors to choose Kent in order to provide all-important places to work.
Local business growth drives office market activity. Canterbury, Ashford and Maidstone, are seeing more activity due to new space in the pipeline with knowledge-based and creative industries amongst those interested.
Demand for prime office space remains strong, with an average rental increase of four per cent during the last year.
Town centres have seen a number of significant office lettings over the last 12 months and there is more serviced office space coming on stream.
Investment in the business park market has been relatively quiet, although demand is more buoyant than the previous 12 months.
Kent's science-focused locations have performed well with innovation space coming forward at Kent Medical Campus and growth plans progressing for Discovery Park and Kent Science Park.
Chairman of Caxtons, Ron Roser, said: "Robust occupier demand and supply shortages have sustained rental value growth, but Brexit uncertainty has led many businesses to delay investment decisions.
"When Brexit is resolved it should have positive implications for business investment, driving expansion and relocation, with an obvious knock-on effect for everyone involved."
Caxtons' Sue Foxley helped launch the Report to an audience of more than 250 property agents, developers and investors at Ashford International Hotel on 6th November. Her presentation of the report's main findings demonstrate a number of positives including:
Best performing: The industrial sector, a result of strong national demand for more warehousing and logistics space due to growth of the online retail sector and Brexit preparations.
Struggling: The retail sector, with many national household names announcing major closures. However:
Leader of Kent County Council, Roger Gough said: "The 2019 Kent Property Market Report once again shines a light on the growing depth of demand, but also the diversity of the county's offer from the incredible work taking place at our science parks to the innovation in the manufacturing and food and drink industries."
The Kent Property Market Report is supported by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, (RICS).
Zoopla research into first time buyers proves what most may think is the blindingly obvious - that because the properties they purchase are usually below, or at the lower end of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold, more of them are buying.
First time buyer properties are a more affordable purchase and much better value for money, especially if you consider that a part of most second rung on the housing ladder purchases involve donating hard earned cash to the Chancellor of the Exchequer! The dreaded Stamp Duty element.
So, it is hardly surprising that even a tiny glimpse of green shoots (no-one dares say a resurgence in the housing market) would begin at the most affordable end. This is primarily because since the November 2017 a revision to the law identified first time buyers as a special case and ensured that they would no longer pay SDLT on properties up to £300,000. If the property price is between £300,000 - £500,000, SDLT will be payable at 5% from
However, an interesting feature of Zoopla's research did expose that of all UK homes on the market during the past year, 59% were marketed below the SDLT threshold.
Conversely, those seeking a second property as a buy to let or holiday home or a second home for their own use will find that they are the losers in the SDLT lottery.
Second home purchases have attracted considerable increases in SDLT since its introduction in April 2016.
Upon introduction a 3% levy was added to second property purchases over £40,000. Nowadays you would be hard pressed to find a great selection of properties below that price – so the majority of second home buyers fall into the additional tax category.
Landlords will surely be considering very carefully whether it is worth increasing their personal portfolio when
But remember, there is always someone worse off than you are. In Scotland, LBTT which is their SDLT equivalent, kicks in at £175,000 and in Wales the LTT threshold is £180,000. Small comfort for those in England – but some.
In uncertain and turbulent times good news can pass un-noticed.
For Caxtons, business is busy and has somewhat bucked the doom laden trend with success across both the commercial property management and investment sectors.
Commercial Property Management
Hummerstone and Hawkins:
Recently, new business came from long-established professional commercial agent Hummerstone and Hawkins of Welling. Caxtons has taken on the commercial property management for their clients.
This new portfolio includes 16 clients with 65 commercial tenancies; 2 oasts; numerous ground rents and one residential block in Herne Bay. The residential property comprises 13-flats over three floors, some of which benefit from sea views.
Following the acquisition of an office investment in August of this year by existing client BexleyCo, Caxtons was pleased to have been appointed as Asset Manager on their behalf.
Sargasso is a modern high spec office on Five Arches Business Park in Sidcup Kent just five miles from the M25/M20 with direct rail links to Charing Cross and Cannon Street.
The 15,837 sq ft office was built in 2006, refurbished in 2016 and is fully let to two tenants - Facilicom Cleaning Services Limited and Sun Chemical Limited – who occupy the entire building.
The property is a great addition to BexleyCo's growing portfolio and will provide a steady income stream for the investor, as well as attractive potential asset management opportunities for the future, which Caxtons looks forward to assisting their client realise.
Investment purchases for GDRE Investments
Caxtons recently negotiated the freehold acquisition on behalf of client GDRE Investments of a purpose-built 4,500 sq ft unit with 15 parking spaces.
Located on a main route into the centre of the thriving
town of Buckingham close to the other major conurbations of Oxford, Northampton and Milton Keynes. The property is currently let to Sainsbury's as a convenience store and has 10-years remaining on a 15-year lease.
Rental income on purchase was £77,000, rising to £86,285 in June '19. and the asking reflected an initial yield of 5.5%.
Bought for £1.576m, this realises an actual initial net yield of 5.16%.
A purchase made during the summer and on behalf of GDRE Investments was the freehold interest in a property, previously owned by Surplus Property Investments Ltd of Glasgow.
Situated in a busy area of the city, Stonegate Pub Company plc is the tenant of 103-105 Above Bar Street in Southampton, and operate a Slug and Lettuce, promoting a 'friendly restaurant atmosphere at our busy bar!' from the premises. Their lease does not end until 2032, but has a mutual break clause in 2024.
Currently, rental income is £110,000 per annum and the purchase price was £1.45m.
In Tolworth, south west London, Caxtons identified an investment opportunity for GDRE Investments in a prominently located new build development.
11 miles from central London, Tolworth is a designated regeneration area with plans for residential, grade A office and new retail units, providing some 5,000 new jobs.
The acquisition comprises 3 ground-floor retail units with demised parking, as well as 50 residential 1 and 2 bed flats, sold on long leases. Caxtons Block Management department in Gravesend has been appointed to manage the residential flats. Two retail units are freehold, one is sold, on a 999-year lease. Retail tenants are HSL (Chairs) and Sainsbury's and their leases had 15 and 10 years respectively at sale.
Offers in excess of £2.5m were being sought for the freehold interest. Caxtons secured the property for £2.35m, reflecting a yield of 8.28% per annum.
Herne Bay - view from flats
On 11th September, Caxtons jointly *organised and hosted the latest Ebbsfleet Executives Club, which meets quarterly at the Kufflink Stadium, Ebbsfleet Football Club.
There was a full agenda and a packed house made up of both local and regional businesses – in particular those involved in the property development and financial sectors in attendance.
Speaker Andy Martin from the London Resort Company gave an in-depth presentation on proposals for their entertainment resort, destined for the Swanscombe Peninsula, Dartford.
Reports that more had happened in the past six-months than in the last five-years was welcome news for the 60-strong audience who greeted it with enthusiasm.
Planned to open in 2024, with consultation and planning application scheduled for 2020, London Resort's £3billion pound scheme involves Paramount, ITV and BBC and is lauded as an 'entertainment resort', combining 'the best of Hollywood with the best of British'.
The London Resort site, situated just 17 minutes from London St Pancras via HS1, two-hours from Gare du Nord, Paris and one-hour from Heathrow, is ideally located for easy access by sustainable transport including the Thames River transport.
London Resort say that this tier one attraction is a first for the UK. It would bring £billions in to the UK economy, and it is anticipated the park will result in 10,000 direct jobs, plus many more indirectly from suppliers and ancillary providers, especially during the build phase – which is anticipated to last for approximately two-and-a-half years.
The project includes provision for e-Sports, a water resort and 2,500 hotel beds, distributed across three hotels, all of which will be open for business from day-one.
In June this year Pierre-Yves (PY) Gerbeau was appointed CEO of London Resort. His track record includes Euro Disney, where he rose to become Vice-President of Park Operations and Attractions, and in 2000 he was appointed Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome.
London Resort is keen to acknowledge its partnerships with Thames Clippers, Radisson and various utility companies, and confirms that it is working closely with The Highways Agency in order to secure the smooth running of the project. In addition the company is keen to emphasise a strong relationship with Ebbsfleet Garden City (EGC), who are building the homes where it is anticipated employees of the future London Resort will live.
* Caxtons organised and hosted the event in conjunction with accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy, Gullands Solicitors and Ebbsfleet Football Club.
Andy Martin, London Resort Company
Caxtons is delighted to announce its sponsorship of the Danson Sports FC new 7-aside (U10s) football team.
Danson Sports is an FA Charter Standard Community Club which is the highest accolade an amateur Club can achieve. The club has grown over the past 3 years and now has 51 teams ranging from U7 to open age football. That means there are 600+ players already involved with the club.
Danson Sports boasts a new 3G artificial playing surface, so is a very busy club with third-party companies hiring the pitches and regular events held in the clubhouse. The Caxtons' sponsored U10s team is all boys, although there are both boys' and girls' teams at the club and they are all part of the busy and happy Danson family group.
David Gurton, Marketing & Business Development Director at Caxtons said "Commercial Agent James Squire, who works in our Turkey Mill offices in Maidstoneand and helps to train the boys, was keen for us to support the U10s 7-a-side team by sponsoring their new kit. We were more than happy to oblige.
"We take our corporate sponsorships seriously, and consider a lot of options before making any final decision. We believe that this gesture will help support young talent, most of whom may not end up as the next Gareth Bale, but will hopefully go some way to teaching them how to become important team players."
Caxtons wishes the team every success for the coming season, and for every season thereafter.
l to r: Alfie Guider, Stanley Lucas, Louis White, Jake Wakeman, Freddie Glave, Manveer Jheeta, Harry Baker, Emmanuel Sanusi
Winners of the 2019 Kent Excellence in Business Awards (KEiBA) 2019 were announced at a glittering dinner held on 20th June at Kent Event Centre, Detling.
The judges arrived at their decision following a gruelling process that was kept secret until the evening of the event.
David Gurton, Marketing & Business Development Director at Caxtons Chartered Surveyors – sponsors of the Start-up category – said: "We were really delighted to be part of this wonderful event.KEiBA has championed many businesses over the past 11-years, and some of those companies owe much of
"We were very impressed with all of our finalists – My Career Options, Orchard Pods and Vidbuild. Overall, the judges determined that Vidbuild deserved the Award, but that does not detract from the other two finalists, who were both very inspiring. We wish all the companies well with their enterprises, and trust that they will go from strength to strength in the coming years."
Jo James, Chief Executive Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce receiving the Start-up Award on behalf of Steven Lloyd-Barlow from David Gurton, Marketing and Business Development Director at Caxtons