7th November 2019
Well, if you are an insightful investor in Kent it does. We are seeing a consistent growth in demand for flexible workspace; (on licence rather than the typical five year plus lease) which also includes all the services and value-adds of a co-working space.
We also need to see a corresponding capacity increase, with spaces like Dragon Co-working in Chatham expanding, and new facilities like Maidstone’s WonderHub and Margate’s Faith in Strangers. Coachworks in Ashford is set to open before the end of the year, with more locations in the pipeline including Biz Spaces sites in Ashford and Maidstone. But, we still need more.
We know the demand is being driven by the working practices evolution we are all experiencing; flexible and mobile working, outsourcing of tasks to small, highly skilled and tech-orientated specialists. The march of the freelancers and collaborators.
Cushman and Wakefield’s recent report on the UK flexible office market suggests 5.5% of London’s office space is let flexibly and like Kent, it has insufficient new space in the pipeline meet growing demand.
High occupancy and little new space coming forward represents a big opportunity for our region. Especially for towns that provide connectivity along HS1. On this basis, just 22 minutes from Kings Cross, Gravesend could arguably be seen as a little ‘more London,’ than Kent.
That is why Locate in Kent is placing such an important focus on bringing more co-working space forward. Simply put, areas with a tight pipeline of new space will struggle to attract employers offering well paid jobs. Flexible workspace providers, including traditionally buoyant London locations like Farringdon and Shoreditch are feeling the squeeze that Kent and Medway can fulfil.
This is one of those symbiotic property challenges we often come across; like Kevin Costner’s infamous baseball pitch in Field of Dreams. If we build more co-working, jobs will come.
We need a healthy pipeline of top drawer co-working facilities whether that is urban, rural or along our creative coastline. Our region has prime locations to attract London businesses with more attractive valuations and the lifestyle their staff seek.
You can help us maximise our investment to present a compelling business case for businesses to move their high-value jobs to our region. Reach out to your clients and use your imagination for sites that could be converted to spaces with small flexible offices or desk memberships.
Where do you know in Kent and Medway that would make a great place to move a digital business too?