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Medway Renaissance

Medway a great place to do business?

The Medway Towns of Chatham, Rochester, Gillingham Rainham and Strood lie along the banks of the River Medway which runs through the heart of North Kent.

The Medway Towns has a rich history:

Rochester has been central to the security of England since Roman times being a key crossing point for the River Medway when moving north from the Kent coast to London and is guarded by its impressive 11th century Norman keep.

Rochester Cathedral is England's second oldest Cathedral founded in 604AD by Bishop Justus just 7 years after the arrival of St Augustine in Kent.

Chatham is the world's most complete example of an Historic Dockyard from the age of sail. Chatham Dockyard and its defences are now on the UK Government's shortlist of potential World Heritage Sites and could have its application submitted in 2011.

The Medway towns were linked together as a unitary authority in 1998. Today the area has a population of over 250,000 and is a thriving community with big plans to grow over the next twenty years.

The Medway economy is currently worth around £2.8billion per year and has more than 13,000 businesses.

The population is set to expand to over 300,000 (the size of Newcastle!) by 2021. All this will be carried out through the major redevelopment of sites all along the River Medway and the surrounding areas.

Plans are in already in place to:

  • Continue the expansion of the existing university complex to accommodate over 15,000 students.
  • To build over 16,000 new homes in the Medway towns.
  • To create 40,000 new jobs by 2026.

In addition the Medway towns is uniquely placed within the UK to take advantage of easy access to the key markets of London and Europe, with the M2 and M20 running through the Medway Towns to the ports of Dover and Ramsgate in the south and up to London in the north. The Channel Tunnel Rail Link is just 10 minutes away with the new high speed train station at Ebbsfleet connecting Kent to the rest of Europe opened in 2008.

The potential for any new business in the area is tremendous. Opportunities abound. But there are also serious issues which still need to be addressed. For local business people the regeneration of the High streets and surrounding areas, improving the traffic system to ensure the ease of vehicle movement throughout Medway and the need to improve the skill base in Medway are amongst the key challenges the Medway Council will face.

Regrettably many of these issues are being ignored and we believe that many areas within Medway are likely to prove disastrous for businesses relocating to Medway. Two major areas of concern are:

  1. The Medway City Industrial Estate. With the proposed Lodge Hill development of 5000 new homes and a proposed new Sainsbury the road infrastructure on to and from the Medway City Industrial Estate (in particular Four Elms Roundabout) is likely to prove ineffective and the traffic situation which is already bad at peak times is only likely to worsen. A new bus link was opened on 8th August 2011 linking Rochester to the Medway City Estate via Strood Riverside. At present it is too early to guage what impact the new bus link will have on the current traffic congestion problems.
  2. Rochester High Street. Traffic congestion through Rochester is bad and is likely to worsen with the new Rochester Riverside developments due to the lack of river crossings and the increasing emphasis on public transport. Whilst an increased local population will assist business, traffic congestion will put off shoppers travelling in from further a field. Why shop for non food goods in Rochester or Chatham when Bluewater is only fifteen minutes up the road with ample free parking and good connections to the A2 and M25?

Despite this there are a number of excellent industrial estates with good road communications. You just need to know which ones!

Whilst limited development has started along Rochester Riverside we were delighted to hear that the £650million development of Chatham Dockyard was officially given the green light in September 2012.

Construction works Chatham Docks

The development is expected to create 3,500 jobs. The huge plan on the 26 acre site will include up to 475 student apartments, a hotel with 200 bedrooms and 950 flats and houses. Also planned is a supermarket, a multi-storey car park, office space, shops and university facilities.

Furthermore the Council has announced plans for the development of Rochester Airport. Plans to tender for an airport operator to work in partnership with the Council to implement the proposals have been announced.

The operator will need to apply for planning permission for the new facilities. The proposal includes:

  • Major improvements to the existing airport facilities.
  • A new permanent home for the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society.
  • New runways.
  • Development of 12 hectares of area for hi-tech business, science or technology development which is expected to generate another 1000 jobs.

This new site is well situated being close to the M20 and M2 motorways and nearby rail links.

All the team in Friend & Grant Limited not only work in the Medway towns but live here. The directors are both born and bred in Medway and know the area intimately. We will help you look through the local authority and government spin associated with any major development and can give you an honest and frank view of what it is like to live in Medway, the housing, the people, the education, the transport infrastructure.

We have a wealth of experience, a comprehensive knowledge of the UK tax systems and numerous business contacts who can make your plans a reality. We have contacts with all the main High Street Banks, Solicitors and other Professions and have worked with Government Organisations to assist in obtaining grants and funding.

Remember if you want an honest opinion of business in the Medway Towns then please call us. We offer a free initial consultation and we will be delighted to help you to determine whether Medway is right for you and if so to help you establish your business here with a view to building a long term successful business relationship with your company.