Despite the uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, the sector remains relatively buoyant. Architecture, as an early stage of the construction process continues to be ‘bellwether’ of the health of the sector.
Demand for housing remains strong, and our master planning team has successfully brought forward a number of large schemes across Kent and Medway for major house builders, with all but one approved or going through the planning process.
Affordable housing must remain an important part of the residential mix. Our work for the Royal British Legion Industry saw a £4m development of 24 flats, for military veterans, recently opened by the Secretary of State Sir Michael Fallon, is an excellent case in point. This is Phase 1 of the Centenary Village in Aylesford.
With major residential schemes often comes the demand for education, health, sports facilities, and heritage schemes, many funded through CIL and S106 agreements. These are Clague’s specialist sectors. Our remit is always to; deliver design to a high standard satisfying the demands for place making. There is strong demand for quality design in all these sectors, especially new schools.
Government policy continues to influence the demand for architectural design in many sectors, notably housing, health and education. The recent policy changes to Grammar School provision has already led to a number of projects coming forward for our team, including Barton Court, Canterbury.
Government proposals to change the formula for calculating Objective Assessed Need could significantly increase the number of houses required to be agreed by local authorities, many of which are already wrestling with high numbers and strong local opposition to any more from voters.
If Kent and Medway is to retain its character, quality design and architectural innovation needs to be embraced and be a prerequisite for schemes coming forward.
With new housing comes the need for employment space and unfortunately commercial development does appear to be lagging behind, despite the best efforts of developers, such as work for our client Quinn Estates in the Commercial Quarter at Ashford’s International Centre.
Infrastructure investment will continue to be crucial for the development community as it can unlock difficult and stalled sites. We must hope the Government will recognise this and give the green light to junction 10a on the M20 and crucially in the design of the Lower Thames Crossing. Without these, and many other smaller road schemes, there’s the risk that Kent and Medway will underperform and fail to deliver for our communities and economy as a whole.
The county’s got great home grown talent with the skills to make Kent the place we all want it to be, and that requires investors, developers, planners and excellent designers to work closely with our communities. There is so much going on that the need to work together and quickly has never been greater.