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Investment Market Report: Kent

Mark Hempshell continues our series of regional reports with a look at the market across the county of Kent

The overall population of Kent is around 1.7m, which is distributed mainly over a large number of small and medium sized towns. The Medway area (Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham) is the most populated area (population 240,000) followed by Maidstone (113,000) and Dartford (87,000).

According to Kent County Council around 83% of population growth in recent years has been due to migration, with Canterbury, Dover, Shepway (centred on Folkestone) and Thanet (centred around Margate and Ramsgate) experiencing growth due to migration alone. According to the ONS all areas of Kent will see population growth up to 2024, with Dartford growing the fastest at 13.3% growth which is almost as high as the fastest-growing London boroughs.

Economic performance here is below other parts of the southeast and the UK national average. GVA per head is £21,435 (2016 figures) compared to £28,683 in the southeast and £26,621 in the UK as a whole. The economy grew by 3.3% in 2016, higher than the southeast but lower than the UK average.

Kent has a diverse industrial base. The main industries, by numbers of employees, are distribution, hotels and restaurants (26%), banking finance and insurance (17%) and public administration, education and health (28%). Within this, tourism is an important contributor to the economy, as is the port at Dover and the Channel Tunnel operation.

There are some concerns regionally about how Brexit could impact the economy as regards availability of migrant workers for local industry, the volume of international trade passing through the ports here, plus possible future Customs delays at them.

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