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Economic Development on West Kent agenda

June, 2018

Connecting like-minded businesses is at the heart of much of Maxim's work.

In his capacity as a director of Kent Invicta Chamber, Maxim's Andrew Metcalf chaired the recent West Kent Economic Development Group, which brought together many important and influential businesses from across Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks.

Held at the offices of Cripps, the law firm which employs 350 people in Tunbridge Wells and Kings Hill, the event welcomed representatives from the area's key business sectors including architects, creative industries, finance, law and commercial property.

The meeting focused on key issues facing the local business community, including:

  • The continued loss of commercial property to residential under Permitted Development Rights and its impact on the high street and retaining businesses in the area. 
  • The high cost of local housing which is impacting on the ability of local employees to live and work in the area, with many having to commute in the respective town.
  • The need for West Kent to argue its case for investment in infrastructure louder, helping it secure its fair share of funding compared to elsewhere in Kent and the South East.
  • The opportunity of local businesses to engage more with those across the border in Sussex and Surrey, especially those around Gatwick.

The issue of Brexit inevitably raised its head, but not surprisingly there continues to be a concern over its implications. However, until there's clarity on what it means, the attendees felt that businesses were simply getting on with business. 

Worryingly, it appears there are signs of businesses, especially those already with strong international customer bases, starting to hedge their bets and look to establish offices in the EU, and moving out of the area.

On a more positive note, the attendees recognised the benefit that the A21 dualling was having on the ability to get into town and improved traffic on the A26 London Road. 

The news that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had taken significant steps to try and halt the loss of further commercial property being converted to residential, notably major offices in the town, was also welcomed. 

Business people based in West Kent who are interested in attending future meetings should contact Andrew on andrew@maxim-pr.co.uk

Andrew Metcalf - Director

Andrew Metcalf

Maxim / Director

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