Ashford Property Market Report 2020
Following the success of the first edition of the Ashford Property Market Report, Ashford Borough Council has partnered with Caxtons Chartered Surveyors again to create a report for 2019/2020.
The 2020 Ashford Property Market Report provides property professionals and investors with an in-depth analysis of the developments shaping Kent’s number one business location and changing the local property market.
Whilst Covid-19 has had an undeniable impact on the property landscape, it remains important to understand how the market was performing prior to the pandemic to adapt to changes quickly and efficiently.
This report presents the situation as it was before the pandemic and raises questions on the future of the residential, commercial and retail sectors to create a proactive discussion between local authorities, investors, developers and property professionals.
Ashford Office Market
The Ashford office market has remained strong in 2019/2020, with a 33% growth in prime office rent over the last five years. Value in the town also remains higher than the county average, standing at £194 per m2 (£18 per ft2), compared to £182 per m 2 (£16.90 per ft 2) for the rest of Kent.
Connect 38 has continued to attract new businesses, with PageSuite taking 557 m2 (6,000ft2) on the ground floor, and Tarkett, Hollis and Towergate taking a further 1,022m 2 (11,000ft 2).
The third addition to the Ashford Commercial Quarter, The Coachworks is a mixed-use project located near Connect 38 and International House, which launched at the end of 2019. It includes a new business hub, home to a range of studios as well as co-working spaces which have proven popular with a number of businesses taking up space such as Sideways Media and Big Wolf Marketing. Overall, the space can accommodate 200 workers. With the expansion of agile working and freelancing, such spaces are now essential to meet local demand.
Newtown Works, a new 7,440m 2 (80,084ft 2) complex comprising of four TV and film studios with production floorspace developed by Quinn Estates, U+I Plc and The Creative District Improvement Co, was granted planning permission in April 2020. It will offer much-needed space for innovative businesses and has already attracted interest from world-leading streaming brands. It will also form part of the wider Thames Estuary Production Corridor to provide workspaces for creative and digital businesses.
Ashford Industrial Market
Thanks to its strategic location on the M20, excellent connectivity and the availability of quality industrial space, Ashford has become a key industrial market in Kent and noticed growing demand for industrial and big box logistics space in 2019. In addition, prime industrial rent continues to be above the average for Kent, at nearly £97 per m 2 (£9 per ft 2) compared to £92 per m 2 (£8.55 per ft 2).
Covid-19’s impact on the market has varied depending on the sector, with manufacturing businesses impacted by lockdown, whilst the distribution sector has driven demand for space locally.
Key industrial developments in Ashford include:
The MOJO Site, which was acquired by government in July 2020 to build a new custom clearance centre.
Orbital Park, with Unit M undergoing comprehensive refurbishment and the final plot on the Park selling to a private investor.
Waterbrook Park, a 130-acre mixed-use scheme will include a range of SME units.
Carlton Road Business Park, which has attracted ABM Contractors and Glenside Commercials.
Ashford Retail Market
With the retail sector undergoing structural changes across the UK, Ashford’s 2018 rental gains were reversed in 2019. Despite this, rents rose by 5% in the three years to Q3 2019, compared to the 2% fall in the Kent average, showing resilience in the borough. Ashford’s strategy to offer a unique town centre experience, with a diverse offer and key developments such as Elwick Place, the Curious Brewery and The Coachworks opening in 2019, will be key to recovery and attracting the staycation market in the second part of 2020.
The Ashford Designer Outlet expansion was also completed in 2019, providing an additional 9,290m2 (100,00ft 2) space for 50 new stores and a food piazza.
Future plans, such as the redevelopment of the residentially led Odeon Square site at Vicarage Lane, will also help reenergise the local retail market.
Ashford Residential Market
The Ashford residential market has continued to perform well in 2019, with the average residential value up 22% over the last five years, whilst remaining under the Kent average (£332,000 in Ashford compared to £350,000 in Kent). This relative value offered to buyers and renters will be key to support the market in a post-Covid-19 world. The borough’s location, only 38 minutes from London, combined with excellent connectivity and access to green spaces will also be key factors attracting residents to Ashford.
Leisure and Tourism
In 2019, Ashford saw considerable developments of its tourism, leisure and visitor attractions with:
- The opening of the new Curious Brewery opposite the International train station in May 2019, which includes a shop, a bar and a restaurant.
The completion of the Ashford Designer Outlet expansion in November 2019, which brought 50 new shops and restaurants to the town.
The opening of the Hot House and the Event Yard at the Coachworks in August and December 2019, offering residents a new food and drink destination in the town centre.
These have played a key part in local regeneration and raising the borough’s profile as a great destination for staycations. With further developments including the new Domaine Evremond production facility and visitor centre, which was granted planning in July 2020 and the Vinorium, a new wine merchant’s headquarters, Ashford will strengthen the borough position as a leading location for vineyards and wine tourism in the South East and the UK.
It is worth noting that Ashford is already home to 18 vineyards, including four of the seven Wine Garden of England vineyards (Biddenden, Chapel Down, Domaine Evremond and Gusbourne).
To support visitor stays in the borough, new hotels have opened and are planned for the next few years, including:
The new Travelodge at Elwick Place, which opened in January 2019.
The Ashford International Hotel which will be transformed into a new Delta hotel by Marriott thanks to a multi-million-pound investment from the world-leading hospitality brand.
The Hampton by Hilton at Victoria Point, where construction has started construction and is due to be completed by the end of 2020.
A new 120 bed hotel as part of the Newtown Works development.
Whilst the impact of Covid-19 on the leisure and tourism sectors has been significant, there are opportunities for local attractions to capture domestic staycations in Summer 2020.
Whilst 2019 and the beginning of 2020 saw the Ashford property market go from strength to strength, the Covid-19 pandemic will have a significant impact on future trends, whether commercial or residential.
The past month has seen rapid shifts in the market including new planning applications and changes such as the Government’s planning reforms which will also have an impact on the Ashford property market. However, we would like this report to open a discussion with property professionals to look at what the future holds for the property market:
What does the future look like for the office market? Will we see an increased demand for shared and co-working spaces? How will the office sector adapt to new trends such as working from home?
What sectors will thrive within in the industrial market?
How are people’s expectations changing when it comes to residential property? Are we seeing new trends emerge in terms of requirements (gardens, space to work from home, connectivity, etc.)?
How will high streets recover from the pandemic? How can local authorities support regeneration locally to bring people back to the town centres and help local shops?
How can the tourism sector attract the staycation market?
Join the discussion on our LinkedIn profile and look out for #APMR2020