Kent Business News Roundup

3rd August 2018

The Kent economies continue to show resilience, with plans for a new Innovation Centre at Maidstone, regional lead in the construction of new homes, exciting plans at Shoreham Port and a construction boom at Medway.

Maidstone Innovation Centre

Bond Bryan has been unveiled as the architects who will design a new 2800 m2 Innovation Centre to be built on Maidstone’s Kent Medical Campus. Maidstone Council made the decision in favour of the award-winning architect firm before the final designs had been revealed. They are set to be unveiled later on this year.

The centre will be at the forefront of Maidstone’s bid to position itself as Kent’s business capital. It will offer space for start-up companies and firms demonstrating strong growth potential that specialise in the life science, med-tech and healthcare sectors. Consultancy firm CalfordSeaden will project manage the development which will be situated just off the M20 at Junction 7. The site should be completed and opened by spring 2020.

Businesses that locate themselves within the Kent Medical Campus are able to apply for business rates relief.

Speaking about the development, Martin Cox the leader of Maidstone Council said that it was an example of the council’s desire to continue to support the growth of commercial premises within the private sector. He added that it would bring fast-growing medical and health-related companies as well as employment opportunities into the area.

New homes success for Kent

Kent continues to beat the rest of the south-east when it comes to the number of new homes built, according to government figures. The latest figures reveal that 12,000 homes were built across the East Sussex, Essex and Kent region in the year to March. This is more than any other part of the country outside London.

Looking at the figures by county, East Sussex saw 1,090 new houses built, Essex 5,190, while Kent saw 6,080 new houses built over the year. Christian Brodie who chairs the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) across the three counties said they wanted to create an atmosphere where developers could get on with constructing new homes quickly, boosting the area’s economy and growth prospects.

He added that the LEP had introduced planning protocols that enabled developers and local authorities to work together throughout both the pre-app and application processes. This, he said, helped to smooth out the procedure, allowing them to overcome many of the difficulties within the planning system that often cause delays and prevent developments getting off the ground.

Growth of Offshore Wind Farm could soon get go Ahead

Thanet Offshore Wind Farm could soon get the go-ahead to expand with another 34 wind turbines added by 2023. The proposed plans, which were submitted by the Swedish energy group Vattenfall, are to be inspected by the Planning Inspectorate later in 2018. The proposals will bring the project’s total energy capacity up to 340MW, which could supply 282,000 UK homes (currently the windfarm supplies 200,000 homes). The proposal would also mean new jobs.

“We would also expect to see local businesses benefit from our local investment, especially around the Port of Ramsgate,” said Helen Jameson, Vattenfall’s project manager for the Thanet extension.

The extension would be next to the current wind farm located off Foreness Point near Cliftonville on the Kent coast, which has operated since 2010 and consists of 100 turbines.

“The rapidly declining costs of offshore wind deployment means that Thanet extension could be one of the lowest cost offshore wind farms in European waters,”Jameson also clarified. It certainly puts Kent at the forefront of the UK’s renewable energy sector.

Medway growth

Medway is currently undergoing a construction boom which is outstripping the rest of the UK, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Space Business Centres which analysed the data revealed that the conurbation was also experiencing rates of business survival that were above the national average.

By 2017, construction accounted for 19.1 per cent of all business in Medway, up by 8 per cent in two years. Accounting for a fifth of overall business, construction rates in Medway were significantly higher than the rest of the South East at 13 per cent and the UK as a whole at 12 per cent.

Medway was the area in the South East with the largest number of construction industries at 1,760, closely followed by Milton Keynes with 1,200. According to data from 2015, Medway business survival rates after one year reached 92 per cent, beating the South East by 1.2 per cent and the UK as a whole by 2.5 per cent.

Other industry sectors that reported above-average growth when compared to national levels included the motor trade, transport and storage and health.