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					       Maidstone Economic
     Development Strategy:
Creating a 21st Century County Town

                                      Final Draft

                    Maidstone Borough Council




                                         July 2008




                     1 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 5HE
Table of Contents



1.   Introduction: Challenges And Opportunities..................................... 5

2.   Context and Drivers of Competitiveness ........................................... 2

3.   Maidstone Today: The State Of The Economy ................................. 12

4.   Analysis Of Key sectors .................................................................. 32

5.   Maidstone in 2028: Vision And Objectives ...................................... 51

6.   The Economic Development Strategy ............................................. 54

     A. ................................................... Developing Specialisms: Priority Sectors              55

     B. .................... Creating a More Innovative and Entrepreneurial Economy                               66

     C. ........................................................... Attracting and Retaining Investment           73

     D. .................................................Developing a Culture of Lifelong Learning                77

     E. ............................................................................ Transport and Connectivity   83

7.   Spatial Implications ....................................................................... 90

8.   Making It Happen: The Action Plan ................................................. 98

9.   Appendix ...................................................................................... 107
I    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1.   This economic development strategy marks a critical juncture for Maidstone
     Borough Council and partners. While the borough has a fundamentally sound
     economy - employment is growing, economic activity rates are high and it is
     an attractive place to invest - there is a feeling that for its size and status,
     the Maidstone economy does not „punch its weight‟. For footloose investors
     and existing businesses in the borough, other attractive alternatives are
     emerging – both home and abroad. None more so than in the neighbouring
     Growth Areas of the Thames Gateway and Ashford, where massive
     investment in homes, jobs and the environment is planned.

2.   To make a bigger impact in the regional economy, Maidstone needs a shared
     vision for the local economy and an agreed set of priority actions to deliver
     that vision. Economic development continues to move up the national policy
     agenda; in due course, the Government will give more responsibility to local
     authorities to play a stronger role in developing their local economy. In
     keeping with this, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA)
     plans to devolve more funding to subregional partnerships and local
     authorities where there is sufficient capacity.

3.   This Strategy, prepared by Shared Intelligence, sets out recommendations
     for the Council and partners to respond to the challenges facing the
     Maidstone economy, and the new responsibilities facing the Council for
     driving economic development. A summary version has been prepared for
     wider distribution.

4.   By 2028, the economic vision agreed with stakeholders is to create:

        “a model „21st century county town, a distinctive place, known for its blend of
        sustainable rural and urban living, excellence in public services, dynamic service
        sector-based economy, and above all, quality of life.”

5.   In order to deliver the vision, the Strategy identifies a series of priority
     actions to strengthen the competitiveness of the Maidstone economy, these
     include:

           developing sector specialisms – including professional and business
           services, creative and media, sustainable construction, the public
           sector, retail and leisure, and tourism.
           creating a more innovative and entrepreneurial economy –
           including proposals for an Enterprise Centre, strengthening knowledge
           transfer in the HE sector, and ensuring that more Maidstone
           companies benefit from business support services provided by SEEDA
           and its sister organisations.
           attracting and retaining investment – working more closely with
           Locate in Kent to ensure the Maidstone offer is responsive to market
           requirements, and building a closer relationship with key local
           businesses.
           developing a culture of lifelong learning – supporting the expansion
           and consolidation of Mid Kent College and University College for the


                                        -1-                         SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Creative Arts, and maximising take up of national training programmes
such as Train to Gain.
investing in transport and infrastructure – putting forward the
case, and lobbying relevant authorities, for investments in
infrastructure that will unlock economic growth, notably faster rail
services to London, M20 junction improvements, and the Maidstone
Strategic Link Road.




                               -2-                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
6.   The Council is clear that to be more competitive, the local economy needs to
     grow to accommodate more businesses and employment. Last year, the
     Council successfully applied for „Growth Point‟ status, which means 10,000
     additional homes will be built in the borough, and the additional population
     will itself provide a boost to the economy. The challenge is to ensure that this
     growth is sustainable where new jobs are provided for new and existing
     residents, where new investment in transport infrastructure underpins
     growth, where innovative new public and community services are planned in
     advance of development, and where growth is planned in a way which
     minimises the impact on the environment.

7.   Putting in place the appropriate planning framework, and ensuring that
     Maidstone has a suitable range of sites and premises, will be key to enabling
     economic growth. In accordance with the Local Development Framework
     (LDF), the town centre should be the first priority. Within the town centre,
     rejuvenating the office market is a critical goal; the Council needs to work
     with partners to tackle the oversupply of outdated office stock which is unfit
     for modern business, and to bring forward new high quality developments.
     The strategy also recommends further development of the retail and leisure
     sectors, building on the success of Fremlin Walk, by attracting more
     independent high quality retailers and cultural attractions. These
     challenges will require a comprehensive approach to the town centre, which
     we should be taken forward and embedded into the planning system via a
     future Town Centre Development Plan Document (DPD), to be prepared upon
     completion of the Core Strategy.

8.   In a sequential fashion, where appropriate space is not available within the
     town centre, MBC should support complementary office, industrial and
     warehousing activity on edge of town sites with good strategic access.
     Elsewhere, rural towns and villages are able to develop organically as
     economic service centres in their own right to support the rural economy.

9.   The Strategy cannot be delivered by Maidstone Borough Council alone and
     requires the support of partners from the public, private and voluntary
     sectors. We recommend the creation of a new economic partnership for
     Maidstone, bringing together and integrating more closely, the work of
     partners such as Mid Kent College, the University College for the Creative
     Arts (UCCA), the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA),
     Business Link, the Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Business,
     the Professional Hub and other partners with an interest in local economic
     development. The new partnership will need to be closely linked to the work
     of the Local Strategic Partnership and the Sustainable Community Strategy.




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Section 1.
The Challenge




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1.     INTRODUCTION: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

1.1.   Maidstone sits at the heart of Kent, the County‟s administrative capital, and
       home to 142,800 people. Surrounded by beautiful countryside and with
       excellent strategic connections to London and the rest of Kent, Maidstone is
       an attractive place to live and work. Compared to national averages, there
       are more highly qualified, well-paid professionals living in Maidstone. The
       borough‟s location is also attractive for businesses, providing access to the
       channel ports, two trans-European motorway networks (the M20 and M2)
       and direct rail connections to the capital.

1.2.   Over the last ten years, the borough has experienced steady growth in GVA
       per head and total employment1. Its civic and administrative role supports a
       large public sector and professional services sector including legal, insurance,
       and accountancy professions. The town centre is a thriving shopping and
       leisure destination serving the local population and the wider county. There
       are low levels of unemployment in the borough and evidence of an
       entrepreneurial spirit. However, there is also a feeling that for a town of its
       size, Maidstone does not „punch its weight‟ in its contribution to the South
       East economy.

1.3.   Looking forward, there are good prospects for continued steady economic
       growth in Maidstone but also significant risks. For footloose investors,
       indigenous businesses, and skilled employees, new and more competitive
       alternatives to Maidstone are emerging - both home and abroad. The
       Government‟s response to national housing shortages has been a massive
       build programme focused on its Growth Areas, two of which - Ashford and
       the Thames Gateway – are on Maidstone‟s doorstep. Huge investment in
       housing, jobs and the environment is now being channelled into these areas2.
       This represents a threat but also an opportunity for Maidstone. It could either
       grow complementarily, benefiting from this investment, or stand still and see
       new and existing businesses locate elsewhere.

1.4.   The borough needs to be in a position to respond to these complex global,
       national and local challenges. It needs to grow to accommodate more
       businesses, employment, and people. In doing so there are opportunities to
       make a greater contribution to the Greater South East economy and the UK
       as a whole.

1.5.   Now, more than ever, Maidstone needs clear direction and an ambitious
       growth orientated economic strategy. The public sector has a vital enabling
       role to play and this is fully endorsed by Maidstone Borough Council. In
       2006, the Council successfully bid to the Government for New Growth Point
       status, and consequently some 10,080 new homes are planned for the
       borough over the next 20 years. Housing growth in Maidstone needs to go
       hand-in-hand with economic growth. If it does not, there is a danger that the
       borough will become more of a dormitory town where people commute out of
       the district to work, putting added strain on the transport network.

1.6.   Growth Point status provides a major opportunity for the Council to be
       ambitious and forward looking in its plans for the borough. The challenge is


       1
           See Section 3 „The State of the Economy‟
       2
           See Appendix for the investment plans of neighbouring boroughs.
                                                            -5-              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        to ensure that growth is sustainable where new jobs are provided for new
        and existing residents, where new investment in transport infrastructure
        underpins growth, where innovative new public and community services are
        planned well in advance of development, and where growth is planned in a
        way which minimises the impact on the environment. In doing so, Maidstone
        will become a more competitive location for investment.


        Purpose of this report

1.7.    Shared Intelligence (Si) was commissioned in January 2008 by Maidstone
        Borough Council to prepare an economic vision, strategy and action plan–
        a collective and bold response to the economic challenges facing the borough
        shared by stakeholders.

1.8.    The main purposes of the document are to:

                  articulate a clear vision and direction for the Maidstone economy
                  agreed with partners;
                  assess the health of the Maidstone economy today and the main
                  strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats;
                  identify the sectors with growth potential and interventions to support
                  their development; and to
                  prepare a programme of interventions – both spatial and thematic - to
                  improve the competitiveness of the Maidstone economy.

1.9.    This is not a development plan document; it does not provide information on
        specific spatial economic development allocations. However, it will inform the
        preparation of the Local Development Framework (LDF) by reinforcing and
        supplementing the spatial development principles in order to support the
        growth of the economy.

1.10.   The process for developing the report comprised five main stages:

                  a review of the regional, subregional and local strategic context;
                  a socio-economic baseline report „The State of the Economy‟ prepared
                  by Gavurin Ltd;
                  a programme of face-to-face and telephone interviews with 32
                  stakeholders3;
                  a Visioning Workshop held on 12th February 2008 attended by 40
                  delegates from the local area, setting a new aspirational vision for the
                  local economy; and
                  a Strategy Development Workshop on the 7th March 2008 to develop
                  the main elements of the strategy with stakeholders.




        3
            See Appendix for list of stakeholders.

                                                     -6-               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Structure of this Report

1.11.   We begin in Section 2 with a review of the strategic policy context and the
        drivers of competitiveness that will determine the future of the Maidstone
        economy. In Section 3 we provide a summary audit of the Maidstone
        economy today and recent trends based on the work of Gavurin Ltd and the
        accompanying „State of the Economy‟ report.

1.12.   In Section 4, we provide an analysis of the key sectors in Maidstone and
        identify priorities for the strategy. In Section 5, we articulate the Vision and
        Objectives for the Maidstone economy in 2028, the outcome of a scenario
        planning workshop facilitated by Si. Section 6 sets out the main elements of
        the Economic Development Strategy that will deliver the vision– A)
        developing specialisms; B) creating a more innovative and entrepreneurial
        economy; C) attracting and retaining investment; D) developing a culture of
        lifelong learning; and E) transport and connectivity – supporting the free flow
        of goods and services.

1.13.   Section 7 examines the spatial implications of the strategy; and Section 8
        sets out the Action Plan and governance arrangements for delivery and
        implementation of the strategy.




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Section 2:
Context and Drivers
of Competitiveness




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2.     CONTEXT AND DRIVERS OF COMPETITIVENESS

2.1.   The future of Maidstone‟s economy must be considered in the context of a
       rapidly changing global and national economy where competition for
       investment between places in the UK and abroad is intense. Emerging
       economies such as China and India are now driving global growth; while
       these developing nations have traditionally competed on price – particularly
       in volume manufacturing - they will increasingly challenge developed
       economies in „knowledge-intensive‟ markets. UK companies need to be able
       to respond quickly and flexibly to economic change if they are to stay ahead.

2.2.   The impact of climate change is now a critical issue and, importantly, how
       economic development can be maintained whilst minimising the impact on
       the surrounding environment. In the UK, the Stern Review4 set out the
       economic case for taking action to halt and reverse climate change. It is
       argued that doing so is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term, in that it
       will create major business opportunities as new markets are created in low
       carbon goods and services.

2.3.   With this bigger picture in mind, we begin this section with an overview of
       what makes some towns and cities more able than others to successfully
       compete in the global economy. We go on to review the current strategic
       policy context and implications for the strategy.


       What makes towns and cities successful?

2.4.   In broad terms, successful towns and cities are those that lead their regional
       and national economies. Such places tend to be those that are competitive,
       productive and innovative. The forces that lead to their creation are highly
       complex. In recent years, there has been considerable debate among
       academics and policy makers about the notion of competitiveness at
       national, regional and local level. For the purposes of this report, we define
       urban economic competitiveness as:

             “the ability of cities and regions to continually upgrade their business environment, skill base,
             and physical, social and cultural infrastructures, so as to attract and retain high-growth,
             innovative and profitable firms, and an educated, creative and entrepreneurial workforce,
             thereby enabling them to achieve a high rate of productivity, high employment rate, high
             wages, high GDP per capita, and low levels of income inequality and social exclusion”.

2.5.   This definition was put forward by leading academics in the „The State of the
       English Cities‟5 report prepared for CLG (2006). Therefore, we need a
       framework for understanding the drivers of economic competitiveness.
       Academics concur that productivity is fundamental to competitiveness. The
       Treasury model of regional productivity growth is well rehearsed, focusing on
       the five drivers: skills; innovation; enterprise; investment; and competition
       (HM Treasury 2001; 2004). However, in our view, while these drivers are
       important, at the local level we need a broader framework. For this, we again
       draw on the State of the English Cities report.


       4
           Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, October 2006.
       5
        Martin.R in CLG (2006) „The State of the Economic Cities: The Competitive Economic Performance of
       English Cities‟

                                                           -2-                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
2.6.   Broadly, there are six, not mutually exclusive, theories that have been
       forward to explain urban economic competitiveness. These focus on:

             the tradable economic base of regions;
             increasing returns and agglomeration economies;
             endogenous growth models - knowledge and innovation theories;
             cluster theories;
             cultural economy theories; and
             evolutionary theories.

2.7.   These theories are explained in further detail in the accompanying Appendix.
       The following „competitiveness pyramid‟, draws on elements of the above
       theories to illustrate diagrammatically the drivers of competitiveness, which
       in turn lead to higher standards of living.




                                                    Source: The State of The English Cities (CLG, 2006)


2.8.   The pyramid comprises a number of different layers. At the top, the target
       outcome is to increase standard of living, conventionally captured by GVA per
       capita. Revealed measures of urban economic performance include
       productivity, the employment rate, wages and profits. These are in turn the
       outcomes of key drivers of urban competitiveness in the middle of the
       pyramid. Many were identified as future drivers of change by stakeholders in
       Maidstone at the visioning workshop.

             Innovation, creativity and enterprise - Entrepreneurial activity and
             the exploitation of new ideas through innovation are widely recognised
             as critical drivers of economic growth. Within this context, a critical
             factor is the adaptive capacity of local economies and how easily
             innovations are diffused around firms and sectors. In addition, the
             proliferation of „creativity‟ across all industries is to thought be
             important for innovation.
             Investment – Knowledge-based economies require risk investment
             from both indigenous companies and external investors. Entrepreneurs
             need to have easy access to capital to develop new business ventures.

                                              -3-                        SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              Similarly, there is a key role for Councils through the LDF Core
              Strategy, to ensure sufficient land is allocated in suitable locations to
              enable this investment, and to market the opportunities.
              Human capital – a highly qualified workforce is a pre-requisite for
              local areas to compete in the knowledge driven economy. Higher
              skilled workers are more productive and provide the ideas which in
              turn lead to innovation.
              Economic specialisation – there are differing views over whether
              diversity or specialisation is more conducive to competitiveness.
              Evidence suggests that specialisation is more significant in the ability
              to innovate. On the other hand, reliance on one or two industries is a
              risky strategy. Therefore, the best combination is specialised and
              clustered diversity combined with adaptive capacity.
              Connectivity – successful economies are generally well connected.
              This can take a number of forms including physical road, rail, air
              connections, as well as electronic communications, and business
              networks.
              Quality of life – although quality of life is difficult to define and
              measure, there is evidence to suggest that it affects investment
              decisions. Firms continue to rank transport and skills highly in their
              investment decision-making, but they also seek good quality housing
              for their workers, good schools and a high quality environment.
              Decision making – strategic decision making by urban authorities is
              a key driver of competitiveness when effective governance
              arrangements are in place.

2.9.    These seven key drivers provide an organising framework for this Strategy.
        In Section 3, we consider how Maidstone performs today in relation to these
        drivers and in section 6 we identify opportunities to strengthen them.

2.10.   It should be noted that the strategy is being prepared at a time when the
        global and national economic outlook is less favourable. Focusing on
        strengthening key „drivers of competitiveness‟, essentially means putting in
        place the supply side conditions to enable economic growth. However,
        economic development may occur at a slower pace, or will be harder to
        achieve, if macroeconomic conditions continue to dampen demand. In
        particular, the current state of the housing and property markets are likely to
        have implications for development led regeneration and growth.


        Strategic Policy Context

2.11.   The Economic Development Strategy for Maidstone sits within a wider
        European, national, regional and local policy context, which provides an
        important backdrop. This includes:

              the Lisbon Agenda;
              the Subnational Review of Economic Development and PPS4;
              The Regional Economic Strategy and the Regional Spatial Strategy;
              Kent Prospects, the Kent Regeneration Strategy, and the Kent
              Agreement;
                                               -4-                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                  Maidstone Sustainable Community Strategy; and
                  Maidstone Local Development Framework.

2.12.   Looking forward, it will be essential for the growth aspirations and
        investment plans identified in the Economic Development Strategy to be
        reflected in partners‟ strategic documents.

        The Lisbon Agenda

2.13.   The Lisbon Agenda continues to set the guiding principles for European
        economic development. The strategy focuses on three strategic goals to get
        European economies „into shape for globalisation‟6:

                  Knowledge and innovation for growth
                  Making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work
                  Creating more and better jobs

2.14.   The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is committed to
        making the region a leader in delivering the Lisbon Strategy, this means:

                  exposing more of the region‟s businesses to the stimulus of global
                  markets through the interchanges of trade, investment, people and
                  knowledge;
                  building trade links with emerging economic powerhouses;
                  collaborating to innovate across regional, national and continental
                  borders;
                  raising skill levels to match improvements elsewhere in the global
                  economy;
                  creating an entrepreneurial spirit across all businesses in all sectors
                  that seek out new opportunities and new markets, rather than relying
                  on existing products, processes and supply chains.7
2.15.   These principles are all relevant to the Maidstone economy, and have guided
        preparation of the strategy.

        Sub National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration (SNR)

2.16.   In the UK, the publication of the Government‟s Sub National Review of
        Economic Development and Regeneration (SNR) is bringing about a
        significant overhaul in the way economic development and regeneration is
        delivered. The Government will outline the implications of SNR in more detail
        in forthcoming policy guidance.

2.17.   Looking at the SNR, it is clear that local authorities will be expected to play a
        much stronger role in promoting economic development than hitherto. A
        statutory duty will be introduced to prepare a local economic development
        strategy. This report therefore comes at a timely moment for the Council in


        6
            http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/faqs/background/index_en.htm
        7
            SEEDA Regional Economic Strategy 2006-2016

                                                           -5-               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        responding to the proposed new duty. In return for additional responsibilities,
        local authorities will be granted greater financial freedoms such as
        Supplementary Business Rates (SBRs) to generate additional funds for
        infrastructure investment. Following publication of the guidance, it should
        become clearer how Maidstone could benefit from such flexibilities.

2.18.   At the regional level, SNR advocates rationalisation of regional governance
        structures and a single regional strategy in every region, merging the current
        regional spatial strategies and regional economic strategies. This should
        again serve to heighten the role of local authorities and local economic
        development strategies. Local authorities will need to set out the economic
        development priorities for their area to feed into the integrated regional
        strategy. These priorities will need to be articulated in terms of both spatial
        and non-spatial economic development interventions.

        Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Development

2.19.   The new PPS on Planning for Sustainable Economic Development sets out
        how planning bodies should, in the wider context of delivering sustainable
        development, positively plan for sustainable economic growth and respond to
        the challenges of the global economy, in their plan policies and planning
        decisions.

2.20.   This draft statement, published for consultation in December 2007, was
        developed in response to recommendations made in the Review of Land Use
        Planning by Kate Barker, a commitment made in the White Paper Planning
        for a Sustainable Future published in May 2007 and the proposals set out in
        the Review of sub-national economic development and regeneration
        published in July 2007. It aims to provide the tools for regional planning
        bodies and local planning authorities to plan effectively and proactively for
        the economic growth they need to help create and maintain sustainable
        communities. In seeking to achieve positive planning for economic
        development, the Government‟s desired objectives are:

              a good range of sites identified for economic development and mixed-
              use development;
              a good supply of land and buildings which offers a range of
              opportunities for creating new jobs in large and small businesses as
              well as start-up firms and which is responsive to changing needs and
              demands;
              high quality development and inclusive design for all forms of
              economic development;
              avoiding adverse impacts on the environment, but where these are
              unavoidable, providing mitigation; and
              shaping travel demand by promoting sustainable travel choices
              wherever possible.

2.21.   These objectives will be achieved using a number of national policies that
        ensure that local planning authorities: plan positively for economic
        development using robust evidence; recognise the needs of businesses;
        make efficient and effective use of land; and secure a high quality and
        sustainable environment.

                                               -6-                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
2.22.   The consultation period on the draft document ended on 17th March 2008.
        When published, the final PPS4 should be taken into account by local
        planning authorities and regional planning bodies in the preparation of their
        Local Development Documents and Regional Spatial Strategies.

        Regional Policy – the RES and the RSS

2.23.   The current South East Regional Economic Strategy (RES) 2006-2016
        prepared by SEEDA sets out the vision for the South East as a world class
        region achieving sustainable prosperity. The strategy is organised around
        three challenges – becoming globally competitive, raising levels of
        productivity and economic activity, and pursuing economic growth within
        environmental limits. A range of interventions are laid out in the RES,
        including regional infrastructure improvements, using further and higher
        education as a catalyst for regeneration, supporting enterprise and business
        start-ups and encouraging initiatives that contribute to sustainability targets.

2.24.   The Strategy groups areas of the region into three broad classifications – the
        Inner South East, Growth Areas, Coastal Areas, and the Rural South East –
        and interventions are shaped around the characteristics of these areas. The
        Inner South East is targeted for support to help it match the best knowledge
        sector businesses and research centres in the region with the best in the
        world. The Growth Areas (Thames Gateway, Ashford and the South Midlands)
        are targeted for massive investments in infrastructure, training and skills,
        and enterprise, innovation and business support. Plans for Coastal Areas
        revolve around tapping into their environmental potential through leisure-led
        growth, improving connectivity and nurturing creative industries and
        innovation. Lastly, the focus for the rural south east is on making towns and
        villages economically viable through the promotion of higher value added
        businesses and rural industries including agriculture.

2.25.   Eight „Diamonds for Investment and Growth‟ are identified in the RES8, -
        considered to be „economic catalysts‟ for the region as a whole. They are
        centred around large towns or cities with high concentrations of people,
        transport, built assets, employment, networking and creativity. These
        diamonds are the focus for investment in the region.

2.26.   Maidstone sits awkwardly within SEEDA‟s RES classifications, neither a high
        growth „diamond‟ of the inner core, nor a coastal town with regeneration
        needs. Policies related to the rural economy, and cross cutting regional
        policies, around business support are relevant, although non-place specific.
        As a consequence, there is a feeling that Maidstone has failed to attract its
        fair share of regional spending.

2.27.   The implications of the current RES are twofold; first, it is essential that
        Maidstone companies are encouraged to take advantage of non-place specific
        SEEDA regional support services – discussed later in this report. Second,
        looking forward, Maidstone needs to make a clearer case for why it can make
        a bigger contribution to the region, clearly articulating the priorities for




        8
         Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke, Gatwick Diamond, Medway, Brighton and Hove, and urban
        South Hampshire.

                                                         -7-                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        economic development where SEEDA support could act as a catalyst for
        growth. This document will provide the starting point for future discussions.

2.28.   The Draft South East Plan (also known as the Regional Spatial Strategy)
        developed by the South East England Assembly “provides the statutory
        regional framework that forms the context within which Local Development
        Documents and Local Transport Plans need to be prepared, as well as other
        regional and sub-regional strategies and programmes that have a bearing on
        land use activities”9.

2.29.   The draft Plan was approved by the Assembly and submitted to Government
        in March 2006. Following an examination in public in 2007, the Inspector‟s
        Panel Report was published in August 2007. Proposed changes to the
        document will be published by the Secretary of State this summer, and,
        following further consultation, the strategy will be adopted in autumn/ winter
        2008.

2.30.   In the current Draft Plan, Maidstone is identified as a regional hub. The
        notion of a „regional hub‟ - “settlements where the provision of (or potential
        to provide) a range of multimodel transport services supports the
        concentration of land used and economic activity in a suitable manner”
        (Regional Transport Strategy).       The Plan identifies 21 Regional Hubs
        including Ashford, Ebbsfleet, Medway Towns, Tonbridge-Tunbridge Wells, and
        Maidstone.

2.31.   As a key regional hub, the draft South East Plan describes Maidstone as
        having the “potential to accommodate significantly higher levels of
        development during the Plan period”. The Report of the Panel of Inspectors
        put significant emphasis on the need to promote economic development in
        Maidstone, stating that the Local Development Framework should:

                   make new provision for housing consistent with its Growth Point role,
                   including associated transport infrastructure;
                   make new provision for employment of sub-regional significance, with
                   an emphasis on higher quality jobs to enhance its role as the county
                   town and a centre for business. The concentration of retail, leisure and
                   service uses at the centre will allow close integration between
                   employment, housing and public transport;
                   confirm the broad scale of new business and related development
                   already identified and give priority to completion of the major
                   employment sites in the town;
                   make Maidstone the focus for expansion and investment in new further
                   or higher education facilities;
                   support high quality proposals for intensifying or expanding the
                   technology and knowledge sectors at established and suitable new
                   locations;
                   ensure that development of Maidstone complements rather than
                   competes with the Kent Thames Gateway towns and does not add to
                   travel pressures between them; and


        9
            South East Regional Assembly (2006) „Draft South East Plan‟.

                                                              -8-          SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              avoid coalescence between Maidstone and the Medway Gap urban
              area.

2.32.   Adopted in July 2006, the Kent & Medway Structure Plan (KMSP) sets
        out the strategic planning framework for the protection of the area‟s
        environment, major transport priorities, and the scale, pattern and broad
        location of new development. The purpose of the document is to guide the
        preparation of the Local Plans and the LDF, providing a framework in which
        decisions can be made.

2.33.   In reference to Maidstone, the KMSP‟s area polices focus on urban
        regeneration in central Maidstone. Proposals relating to the town centre
        include:

              focusing new office and residential uses on the centre of Maidstone to
              provide close integration between employment, housing and public
              transport facilities; and

              supporting the enhancement and broadening of the town centre's
              retail, leisure, tourism and cultural draw.


2.34.   These recommendations provide a fundamental starting point for the
        economic strategy.

        Economic Development and Regeneration in Kent

2.35.   Kent Prospects 2007-12 provides the framework for „influencing, guiding
        and co-ordinating‟ delivery of „economic development and regeneration
        activities‟ by Kent Partnerships‟ stakeholders. Kent County Council is also in
        the process of preparing a Regeneration Strategy for the County, which is
        due for completion in April 2008. The economic development component of
        the Strategy will take its lead from Kent Prospects.

2.36.   Kent Prospects identifies „strengths and opportunities‟ to be cultivated and
        „weaknesses and threats‟ to be addressed in order to realise the economic
        aspects of the Partnership‟s „Vision for Kent‟. Reflecting many of the priorities
        from the RES, Kent Prospects sets out a series of actions arranged under four
        themes:

              strengthen Kent‟s accessibility, infrastructure and connections;
              develop growth & regeneration opportunities and combat deprivation;
              promote enterprise, competitiveness and market opportunities; and
              develop pathways to sustainable prosperity.

2.37.   Kent Prospects highlights the opportunity for economic growth in Maidstone
        as a principal urban centre and „growth point‟. In Maidstone, as in Ashford
        and Folkstone, the priorities are to attract investment, develop business,
        enterprise and skills opportunities, and enhance the area‟s sense of place and
        attractiveness for visitors. There are few Maidstone-specific initiatives, with
        the focus largely on other parts of the county – in particular the Growth
        Areas and coastal Kent.

                                                -9-                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
2.38.   The Kent Area Agreement 2 is the Local Area Agreement (LAA) for Kent
        being prepared by the Kent Partnership. It is the vehicle for taking forward
        the ambitions contained in the Vision for Kent. SNR states that LAAs must
        now feature at the heart of local authorities‟ economic development
        strategies, setting clear achievable targets. In a county the size of Kent,
        where the County Council is the top tier authority, making the targets
        relevant to all boroughs is a challenge.

2.39.   The current headline indicators of the draft Kent Agreement 2 are:

              NI163 Working age population qualified to at least level 2 or higher
              NI171 VAT registration rate
              NI 152 Working age people on out of work benefits
              NI188 Adapting to climate change
2.40.   While these indicators are to some extent relevant to Maidstone, it will be
        necessary to set some targets specific to the borough in or to monitor
        progress (See Section 8 of this report).

        Maidstone Borough Council Core Policy Documents

2.41.   The Local Government White Paper and SNR mean that more than ever the
        Economic Development Strategy needs to be aligned with the Council‟s suite
        of core documents including the Sustainable Community Strategy, the
        Corporate Plan, and the Core Strategy Local Development Framework - the
        Council‟s key planning document.

2.42.   The Sustainable Community Strategy – now being prepared by the
        Council - will set the overall strategy for improving quality of life in the
        borough. It is envisaged that this report will be the primary source of input to
        the economic development chapter.

2.43.   The Local Development Framework (LDF), together with the South East
        Plan, will guide the future spatial development of Maidstone. The LDF is
        therefore an absolutely critical document for setting the context for future
        economic development. The LDF comprises a number of documents; at its
        heart is the Core Strategy. Maidstone published its Preferred Options for the
        Core Strategy in January 2007. The process for adopting the Core Strategy
        has currently been put on hold until the outcome of the Kent International
        Gateway (KIG) planning application is resolved.

2.44.   The Core Strategy Preferred Options document sets out a spatial vision for
        Maidstone and a number of spatial objectives relevant to the economic
        development strategy. Section E of this report examines in further detail the
        spatial implications of the economic development strategy and its
        relationship to the LDF.




                                               - 10 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Section 3.
Maidstone Today:
The State of the
Economy




             - 11 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.     MAIDSTONE TODAY: THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY

3.1.   It is essential that policy recommendations in the Economic Development
       Strategy are evidence-based. Analysis of the state of the Maidstone economy
       today and recent trends therefore provides an important component of the
       report. This section also provides a baseline against which economic
       performance and the success of the strategy can be monitored.

3.2.   The narrative below is a summary of the statistical analysis in the „State of
       The Economy‟ report undertaken by Gavurin, included as a supporting
       document. By way of a comparison, equivalent figures for Great Britain and
       the South East are included, and where appropriate we also benchmark with
       local authorities in Kent and other places in the UK with similar industrial
       structure.


       An attractive place to live and work

3.3.   Maidstone is the „county town‟ and administrative capital of Kent, covering
       40,000 hectares of land, just over 30 miles south east of London. Positioned
       between the capital and the channel ports, served by two trans-European
       motorway networks - the M20 and M2 - and rail connections to central
       London, Maidstone is strategically well placed to support a successful
       economy.

3.4.   Maidstone town sits within a picturesque rural landscape in the „Garden of
       England‟, with some parts of the borough in the Kent Downs Area of
       Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is an attractive place to live and work, home
       to many relatively affluent individuals, many of whom commute out of the
       district to work in London. This is important as quality of life is identified as
       a driver of competitiveness. Maidstone was recently placed 2nd in the Royal
       Bank of Scotland‟s 2007 Affordable Affluence Index, which ranks locations in
       the UK based on the availability and affordability of an „affluent lifestyle‟10.

3.5.   Maidstone has a thriving town centre which among the top 50 retail centres
       in the country11. The borough is also a safe place to live, boasting low fire
       and road traffic victim numbers, and low crime rates (See chart 49, p.89 &
       chart 50, p.90 State of the Economy (SOE) report). Moreover, the borough is
       home to good schools and housing is relatively affordable when compared to
       the South East – the average price for a property in Maidstone is £241,444,
       compared to £241,836 in Kent and £275,549 in the South East.


       Modest recent growth in productivity, employment and
       population

3.6.   Overall economic performance in Maidstone over recent years has been
       steady if not spectacular, with modest growth in productivity, employment
       and population.



       10
            For example, top performing schools, good restaurants and cultural attractions
       11
            Retail Footprint 2007

                                                              - 12 -                     SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Relatively low productivity growth

3.7.    Productivity - usually defined as the ratio of a volume measure of output to a
        volume measure of input12 - is key to competitiveness. It is the main reason
        behind the differences in the growth between regions. Therefore, Maidstone‟s
        productivity is a good indication of the „economic health‟ or competitiveness
        of the borough.

3.8.    The graph below shows estimated GVA per worker - a proxy for productivity
        in an area - in Maidstone and other local authorities in Kent between 1998
        and 2005. GVA per worker for Maidstone has shown steady growth between
        1998 and 2005, with the most recent data estimating GVA per worker at
        approximately £33,70013.

        Gross Value Added per worker for Local Authorities in Kent, 1998-2005




3.9.    However, for a town of its size and status, Maidstone‟s performance is weak.
        In 1998, four of the twelve local authorities in Kent had higher productivity
        levels than Maidstone. In 2005, this had increased to seven of the twelve
        authorities; with only Gravesham, Tunbridge Wells, Thanet and Canterbury
        with a GVA per worker lower than Maidstone. Low productivity in Maidstone
        is likely to be driven by low innovation levels, a lack of Higher Education
        provision and the absence of sector specialisation, as described below in this
        chapter.

3.10.   Compared with places of similar industrial structure nationally, Maidstone
        fairs better. It is important to make this comparison because industrial
        structure plays a major part in productivity. The proliferation of public sector
        employment in Maidstone is likely to weaken the productivity picture in the
        borough.



        12
             OECD, 2001
        13
          £33,700 is the value of goods and services produced in the Maidstone economy (minus costs) per
        worker. These figures are estimates.

                                                       - 13 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Gross Value Added per worker in places with a similar industrial structure to
        Maidstone, 2000-2005 Source: ABI, Gavurin




3.11.   In 2005 Maidstone had the second highest GVA per worker in comparison to
        Bolton, Chelmsford, Croydon, Gloucester and Lewes. Only Croydon had
        higher productivity levels.

        Modest employment growth

3.12.   Turning to employment growth, the graph below shows Maidstone‟s
        performance relative to the South East and Great Britain. Employment
        growth has been sluggish overall when compared to the South East.

        Employment growth in Maidstone, 1995-2006      Source: ABI


           Maidstone
           South East
           GB




                                              - 14 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.13.   Maidstone, along with Great Britain and the South East, experienced a fall in
        total employment between 2005 and 2006. This is likely to be the result of
        inconsistencies in ABI data collection rather than anything more serious but it
        should be monitored.

        Modest population growth but forecast to rise

3.14.   According to 2006 mid-year ONS estimates, Maidstone has one of the largest
        populations in Kent with 142,800 individuals residing in the borough.
        However, historic trends suggest that there has been little growth in the
        population in recent years, with a population growth of just 3.18% recorded
        between 1996 and 2006. Great Britain (4.15%), the South East (5.16%)
        and Kent (6.57%) have all grown at a significantly faster rate.

                                                                     Population change 1996-
                                                   Population 2006
                                                                              2006
          Great Britain                                58,845,700             4.15%
          South East                                    8,237,800             5.61%
          Kent                                          1,382,900             6.57%
          Ashford                                        111,200             15.35%
          Maidstone                                     142,800              3.18%
          Medway Towns                                   251,700              4.31%
          Swale                                          128,500              9.55%
          Tonbridge and Malling                          113,900              9.20%
          Tunbridge Wells                                104,600              2.35%
        Source: Mid-year ONS estimates for 2006, Nomis


3.15.   Compared to neighbouring boroughs, only the population of Tunbridge Wells
        (2.35%) has increased by a smaller amount over the last ten years.
        Notably, Tonbridge & Malling and Swale have seen a population increase of
        almost 10% since 1996, while Ashford‟s population has grown significantly at
        15.35%.

3.16.   South East Plan forecasts predict more rapid population growth in Maidstone
        for the next ten years and beyond. These forecasts predict that the
        population will grow by 5.7% between 2006 and 2016, and 10.4% between
        2006 and 2026 respectively. This is an increase of 14,900 individuals over
        the next 20 years and significantly more than recent historic trends. The
        change will to a large extent be driven by the scale of new housing growth.




        Source: South East Plan population forecasts




                                                          - 15 -          SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.17.   Meanwhile growth for many of the surrounding boroughs is projected to be
        much lower14. Ashford is again expected to see the largest growth.


        Some sector strengths but few specialisms

3.18.   Specialisation and clustering in an area gives a local economy a competitive
        advantage, encourages high productivity, stimulates inward investment and
        knowledge exchange, and attracts skilled labour to the area. The absence of
        specialisms is therefore a serious weakness. Analysis by Gavurin Ltd in the
        accompanying State of the Economy report identifies no sector
        specialisms15 in Maidstone.

3.19.   From our discussions with stakeholders, a number of sectors have been
        highlighted as potential strengths in the borough, most notably: business
        and professional services, the public sector, and creative and media sectors.
        These sectors are discussed in more detail in section 6.

3.20.   As the graph below illustrates, the distribution of employment in Maidstone
        largely reflects its „county town‟ status, with almost a third of employment in
        public administration, education and health– more than double the
        proportion employed in the South East and Great Britain.

        Employment distribution (%)                Source: ABI


               Maidstone
               South East
               GB




        14
             Medway Council disagree with the projections for the unitary authority.
        15
           Specialisms are geographic concentrations of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated
        institutions in an area.

                                                                 - 16 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.21.   Compared to national and regional averages, Maidstone also has
        proportionally more people - almost 15% - working in the „Health and Social
        Work‟ sector, and a larger percentage working in „Construction‟. Maidstone
        has fewer people working in the „Wholesale and Retail trade‟, „Manufacturing‟
        and „Education‟.

3.22.   Looking at time series data, significant increases in the proportion of
        individuals employed in „public administration, education and health‟ and
        „construction‟ occurred between 1998 and 2006. Employment in the
        construction sector increased by 15.5%, while employment in „public
        administration, education and health‟ increased by 29.0%.

3.23.   The distribution of employment in broadly mirrored by the distribution of
        firms. The graph below shows the current distribution of firms in the
        borough.

        Distribution of firms in Maidstone Source: ABI

           Maidstone
           South East
           GB




3.24.   In line with the national and regional make up of companies, there are a
        large number of „wholesale and retail trade‟ businesses, and „real estate, rent
        and business‟ firms. Notably, Maidstone has proportionally more firms in
        „construction‟ compared to Great Britain and the South East.


        A tight labour market

3.25.   With regards to economic activity, the Maidstone economy performs very
        well. The unemployment rate – the number of unemployed persons as a

                                                     - 17 -        SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        proportion of the economically active population – in Maidstone (3.6%) is
        below the Great British (5.4%), South East (4.2%) and Kent (5.4%)
        averages. The claimant count – the proportion of the working age
        population claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) – also lies below the South
        East (1.3%) average, and is significantly smaller than the national (2.2%)
        and county (1.6%) figures.

                                 Employment      Unemployment   Inactivity rate   Total claimant
        Area                      rate (%)          rate(%)          (%)            rate (%)
        Great Britain               74.3             5.4            21.5               2.2
        South East                  78.5             4.2            18.0               1.3
        Ashford                     75.5             8.2            17.7               1.2
        Maidstone                   78.9             3.6            18.1               1.1
        Medway Towns                77.6             5.2            18.2               2.2
        Swale                       72.9             6.2            22.2               2.5
        Tonbridge and Malling       76.0             2.7            21.9               0.9
        Tunbridge Wells             79.9             3.9            16.8               0.9
        Kent                        76.0             5.4            19.6               1.6
        Source: Annual Population Survey, 2007

3.26.   With the exception of Tunbridge & Malling, none of the surrounding local
        authorities can boast an unemployment rate lower than Maidstone‟s.
        Likewise, Maidstone, along with Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells and
        Ashford has very lower claimant rates. Elsewhere in the county, Swale and
        the Medway Towns experience almost double the proportion of individuals
        claiming JSA.

3.27.   Correspondingly, the inactivity rate – the proportion of the working age
        population not activity participating or seeking work - for Maidstone is very
        low at 18.1%. This is 2.4 percentage points lower than the Great British
        average and 1.4 percentage points lower than Kent. However, it stands
        slightly below the average for the South East. Compared to Maidstone‟s
        neighbours, the borough again performs very well – only Ashford and
        Tunbridge Wells have marginally lower inactivity rates.

3.28.   In keeping with this trend, the employment rate – the percentage of the
        working age population in employment – in Maidstone (78.9%) is higher than
        in Kent (76%), the South East (78.5%) and Great Britain (74.3%); and
        exceeds all but one of its neighbouring local authorities (Tunbridge Wells).




        Employment in Kent

        Source: ABI




                                                     - 18 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Number of people
      employed




                   The figure above illustrates the number of individuals employed in all of
                   the local authorities in Kent, showing that Maidstone is the largest employer
                   of all local authorities. After fluctuating in the late nineties, Maidstone‟s
                   employment has risen steadily until 2005. In 2006, there appears to be a
                   slight fall in the number of individuals employed in Maidstone, but this looks
                   to be replicated by the majority of other local authorities in Kent.

                   Persistent gap between resident and worker wages– but closing

      3.29.        The table below shows the total16 gross weekly residence and workplace
                   earnings and the „wage gap‟ in Maidstone in 2002 and 2007 compared to
                   Great Britain, the South East, Kent and the surrounding local authorities.
                   Workplace earnings in Maidstone are lower than the South East (£392.70)
                   average and only on a par with Great Britain (£376.00).

                                                                                                                             Difference
                                                                Difference                                     Difference
                                                                                                                              between
                                                 Gross           between        Gross weekly                    between
                             Gross weekly                                                      Gross weekly                     wage
                                                 weekly        workplace &       workplace                    workplace &
                               workplace                                                         resident                   differentials
                                                resident        residence         earnings                     residence
                             earnings 2002                                                     wages 2007                     between
                                               wages 2002        earnings          2007                         earnings
                                                                                                                               2002 &
                                                                   2002                                           2007
                                                                                                                                2007
     Great Britain              £326.10          £326.30             -               £376.00     £376.50           -              -
     South East                 £353.10          £365.00           3.37%             £392.70     £407.90        3.87%         0.50%
     Kent                       £315.00          £344.50           9.37%             £369.40     £399.40        8.12%         -1.24%
     Ashford                    £325.00          £349.70           7.60%             £364.30     £373.30        2.47%         -5.13%
     Maidstone                  £306.90          £361.50           17.79%            £376.80    £426.80        13.27%        -4.52%
     Medway Towns               £326.60          £347.20           6.31%             £357.80     £401.90       12.33%         6.02%
     Swale                      £310.60          £347.00           11.72%            £391.10     £396.60        1.41%        -10.31%
     Tonbridge and
                                £345.50          £329.50           -4.63%            £343.70     £443.00       28.89%         33.52%
     Malling
     Tunbridge Wells            £310.00          £346.00           11.61%            £385.90     £479.10       24.15%         12.54%
                   Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2007, Nomis

      3.30.        As the figures above illustrate, there is a large difference in wages between
                   residents and workers – in 2007 gross weekly resident earnings (£426.80)
                   were 13.2% higher than gross weekly workplace earnings (£376.80).


                   16
                        includes full time and part time workers

                                                                            - 19 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Despite this difference, the gap has narrowed over the last five years from
        17.79% to 13.27%.

3.31.   The wage gap is likely to be explained on the one hand by the large
        proportions of out-commuters with relatively high wages, and on the other
        by Maidstone‟s industrial structure which is skewed towards lower paid
        occupations. Neighbouring authorities with large proportions of the
        population working outside the borough - Medway, Tonbridge and Malling,
        and Tunbridge Wells17 - also have the largest wage differentials. Notably,
        Tonbridge and Malling, the borough with the highest level of out-commuting
        at 51.88%, also has the largest wage gap (28.89%).

3.32.   While the wage gap in Maidstone is inevitably high, there is room for
        improvement. Workplace wages relative to local authorities with a similar
        industrial structure in the country are at the upper end of the scale but still
        relatively low given Maidstone‟s size and strategic position (see figure
        below).

        Residents‟ pay in places with a similar industrial structure to Maidstone

        Source: ASHE, Gavurin




3.33.   At the visioning workshop, there was some discussion about whether the
        wage gap in fact matters. The broad consensus was that while the gap will
        almost inevitably persist, there is a need to attract more knowledge intensive
        businesses to the borough, and also to raise productivity, to increase the
        workplace wage rate. Moreover, improving the town centre retail and leisure
        offer will enable the borough to capture more expenditure from high earning
        residents.

        Occupation structure skewed towards professional and administrative jobs

3.34.   Further evidence for the gap in wages can be seen from the occupational
        structure of Maidstone compared to Kent, South East and Great Britain.
        The points on the graph below represent location indices - the ratio of local
        to national, county to national and regional to national occupation shares


        17
             Note that this data is for 2001

                                                   - 20 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        (multiplied by 100). An index greater than 100 represents a relatively high
        concentration of that occupation in Maidstone, and vice versa.

                                                                 Managers and senior officials
                                                                        160


                                 Elementary occupations                                                Professional occupations
                                                                        120


                                                                         80


                                                                         40
         Process, plant & machine operatives                                                                        Associate prof & tech occupations
                                                                                                                                                        South East
                                                                           0                                                                            Maidstone
                                                                                                                                                        Kent




           Sales & customer services occupations                                                               Administrative & secretarial




                                       Personal service occupations                         Skilled trade occupations


        Source: Annual Population Survey, 2006/2007




3.35.   Maidstone has a much higher proportion of individuals in „administrative &
        secretarial‟ positions, and also a higher proportion of individuals in „skilled
        trade‟ and „associate professional and technical‟ positions than Great Britain,
        the South East and Kent. Maidstone also has a significantly lower proportion
        of individuals working in „sales and customer service‟ occupations than Great
        Britain, and less in „process, plant and machine operative‟ and „elementary‟
        occupations. The “higher level” occupations compare favourably to Britain,
        and exceed the proportion of individuals employed in these occupations in
        Kent.

3.36.   The occupational structure of Maidstone has remained broadly similar over
        the last five years but there has been a large recorded increase in the
        proportion of people in professional occupations. The proportion in
        professional occupations stood at 9.5% in 2002, but now stands at 14.1% in
        2007. This is clearly a positive sign for the local economy and could explain
        the improvement in the resident and workplace earnings gap.


        An entrepreneurial spirit but low levels of innovation

3.37.   Enterprise and innovation are both key drivers of productivity and economic
        growth. Enterprise refers to the risks taken by businesses when organising
        the factors of production; land, labour and capital. New enterprise and
        entrepreneurial activity increases productivity through competitive pressures
        and innovation, bringing new products and processes to the market. It is
        difficult to measure but the number of business start ups, deregistrations and
        stock within an area is generally used as a proxy.

3.38.   The figure below shows that Maidstone‟s business base of VAT registered
        companies has continued to grow since 1995, and that there are



                                                                                             - 21 -                                     SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        proportionally more VAT registered businesses per 1,000 working age
        residents in the borough than the South East or Great Britain18. The most
        recent data from the BERR (formerly DTI) Small Business Service for 2006
        suggests registrations continue to outweigh deregistrations; 510 businesses
        were registered in 2006, compared to 445 deregistrations. This is a major
        plus point for the local economy, as successful economies tend to have a
        larger density of businesses.

        Growth/decline of VAT registered businesses in Maidstone

        Source: ABI

                                                                   Maidstone
                                                                   South East
                                                                   GB




                                                                      Chart 9, Source: ONS




                            Per 1,000 working aged residents

                         Number of businesses is indexed to 2005
3.39.                           entrepreneurial spirit in the borough. As a proportion
        There is evidence of an population data.
        of all people of working age, there are more male directors living in
        Maidstone than the South East and the UK, and more female directors than
        the country average (see chart 18, p.42 State of the Economy (SOE) report).
        Self employment is also high, with just under 7,000 men and over 2,000
        women working for themselves (see chart 19, p. 43 SOE report).

3.40.   Innovation within an area refers to the „successful exploitation of new ideas‟
        which includes the ability to introduce new products and processes,
        ultimately leading to higher rates of productivity and faster rates of growth.
        Again, innovation is difficult to measure.

3.41.   The Maidstone economy today could not be described as innovative. It has
        few specialisms, or clusters of economic activity, that make its economy
        distinctive, and which economy theory suggests foster innovation through
        agglomeration effects. It has a small Higher Education sector - University
        College for the Creative Arts is the main provider - but overall R&D and
        knowledge transfer activity is relatively weak.


        18
             ABI, 2006

                                                         - 22 -    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.42.   Patent applications is one proxy measure for innovation. In 2006, only 9
        patent applications were made in the Maidstone economy; approximately 0.8
        per 1000 firms, compared to around 1.2 in Great Britain and 1.6 in the South
        East.

        Patent Applications

                                                                                    In 2006 Maidstone had
                                                                                    9 patent applications. If
                                                                                    it was to be
                                                                                    proportionately equal
                                                                                    to the South East
                                                                                    Maidstone would need
                                                                                    7 more applications.




                                                                                Chart 14, Source: Patent Office, ABI, APS, Gavurin




                                     Patents per 1000 firms
                                    2006 (Patent Office and
                                           Gavurin)

3.43.   Maidstone‟s poor innovation record could be explained by a number of
        factors.   First, the proportion of innovation enabling19 businesses in
        Maidstone is very low as the chart below illustrates.




        Employment in Innovation enabling businesses




        19
          As defined by OECD in their four yearly Community Innovation Survey (CIS). This encompasses the UK
        Innovation Survey, last completed in 2005.

                                                              - 23 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                                                                                   Maidstone
                                                                                   South East
                                                                                   GB

                Software                        Research and Development           Management
                Development                                                        Consultancy




                          % of employment in Maidstone which is working in innovation   Chart 13, Source: ABI
                          enabling businesses


3.44.   There are substantially fewer individuals employed in innovation enabling
        businesses in the outlined sectors than the South East and Great Britain.
        This is particularly true of individuals employed in R&D, where the proportion
        is virtually non-existent. The position has changed very little in recent years.
        However, the Maidstone economy does seem to have some strength in
        Management Consultancy.

3.45.   Weak levels of innovation might also be explained by a small higher
        education sector in the borough. Universities can be catalysts for innovation
        through the exchange of knowledge between HE institutes and industry, or
        „business-university innovation linkages‟. While the University College of
        Creative Arts has a presence in the borough, it is relatively small and its
        knowledge transfer activities are embryonic.


        A highly skilled population

3.46.   Like innovation, skills are important contributors to economic growth. Skilled
        workers are more productive, have the capability to take on sophisticated
        tasks and are more flexible as they have greater capacity to absorb and learn
        additional skills. Comparatively, low educational attainment and skills levels
        are often cited as one of the principal reasons for productivity gaps between
        different areas of Great Britain, and between Britain and other countries.

3.47.   Encouragingly, Maidstone has a higher proportion of residents educated to
        degree level than the South East and Great Britain, with almost 35% being
        educated to this level. However, it is likely that significant proportions are
        commuting out of the borough for work.

3.48.   When examining qualifications lower than degree level, Maidstone residents
        do not perform as well. The proportion of residents with A*-C grades at
        GCSE and A levels is lower than the South East and national average, whilst
        the proportion with lower level qualifications is higher.

        Qualifications achieved (residents)
                                                       - 24 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                                                                   Maidstone
                                                                   South East
                                                                   GB




                                                                                Source: APS




3.49.   It should be noted however that according to 2007 data from the
        Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF), overall performance of
        secondary schools in Maidstone has improved over the last ten years, and a
        larger proportion of children in Maidstone achieve 5 or more A*-C grades
        compared to county, regional, and national averages.

        High levels of commuting

3.50.   As noted above, a large number of individuals commute out of the borough
        to work in better paid jobs. However, reflecting the importance of Maidstone
        as an economic hub, the number of individuals travelling into Maidstone
        exceeds the number travelling out - 27,082 compared to 35,96620.




        Commuting



        20
             APS, 2006/2007

                                             - 25 -             SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                                                                                                           Commuting in
                                                                                                           Commuting out

                                                                                             There are more people travelling into
                                                                                             Maidstone to work than people travelling out.




                                                                                                                          Chart 1, Source: APS




                        In order to consider commuting destinations, we have to look back to 2001
                        census data which is somewhat dated but still useful. This shows that the
                        proportion of people commuting outside of the borough is broadly similar to
                        the local authorities of Tunbridge Wells and Medway – around 40%.
                        Tonbridge & Malling has significantly more out-commuters, with over 50%
                        leaving the borough for work, while Ashford and Swale has 30.94% and
                        35.03% respectively.

                                                                         Area of workplace

                                                                                                               Tonbridge            Tunbridge
                                        London     Ashford   Maidstone       Medway UA         Swale
                                                                                                              and Malling             Wells

                        London         3,082,959    402       1,239               1,677         353               1,832                  959
                        Ashford         3,248      33,753     2,782                512          543                894                 1,190
                        Maidstone       7,132      1,201      42,009              3,760       1,050               6,908                2,292
    Area of residence




                        Medway UA       17,578      472       8,219               70,740       3,453              5,643                  792
                        Swale           4,724       698       2,743               4,302       36,196              1,150                  223
                        Tonbridge &
                                        8,514       242       5,398               2,128         354              25,521                3,830
                        Malling
                        Tunbridge
                                        7,202       480       1,559                230           94               4,239               30,914
                        Wells
                        Total in
                                                   48,872     69,473          119,256         55,711             53,034               50,865
                        employment
                        % working in
                                                   69.06%    60.47%           59.32%         64.97%              48.12%               60.78%
                        the borough
                        % working
                                                   30.94%    39.53%           40.68%         35.03%              51.88%               39.22%
                        outside
                        Source: Travel to Work Flows, Census 2001

3.51.                   The largest proportion of people commuting out of the borough work in
                        London (7,132) and Tonbridge & Malling (6,908), whilst the fewest work in
                        Ashford (1,201) and Swale (1,050). Those commuting into Maidstone are
                        predominantly from Medway (8,219) and Tonbridge & Malling (5,398). These
                        functional economic relationships have an important bearing on the strategy.




                                                                         - 26 -                        SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Pockets of Deprivation

3.52.   Like in many local authorities across the country, there are deprived
        neighbourhoods in Maidstone. The 2007 Index of Multiple Deprivation
        (IMD) provides a basis for assessing the extent of deprivation in an area. As
        a whole, the borough of Maidstone is relatively less deprived than elsewhere
        in the country; ranking 248th out of a total of 355 (where 355th is the least
        deprived).

3.53.   However, while Maidstone appears relatively affluent, there are pockets of
        deprivation that are a cause for concern. The map below shows that a
        number of lower level super output areas (LSOAs) – equivalent to a street or
        neighbourhood - fall into the most deprived 20% in the country. The majority
        of these appear to be in Park Wood and High Street wards.




                                              - 27 -             SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.54.   Park Wood and High Street wards also have significant proportions of NEETs
        (individuals Not in Employment, Education or Training). In 2006, 24.1% of
        16-18 year olds living in Park Street ward were NEET – the third worst ward
        in the Kent County Council region. Similarly, 16.6% of 16-18 year olds in
        High Street wards were in no formal education, training or employment21.
        These issues will be considered in more detail in the forthcoming Sustainable
        Community Strategy.




        21
             KCC Supporting Independence Programme area profile: Maidstone, 2006

                                                           - 28 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
         Summary SWOT Analysis

3.55.    Reflecting on the current state of the Maidstone economy, the strategy is
         built around an understanding of Maidstone‟s strengths, weaknesses,
         opportunities and treats, as summarised in the following table.

                  Strengths                                                             Weaknesses
        Thriving town centre and lively night time                   Relatively low productivity driven by low levels of
        economy                                                      innovation and a lack of Higher Education provision
        Good strategic transport links                               No sector specialisms
        Strong on quality of life factors including                  Persistent, but improving resident-workplace wage
        picturesque rural landscape, good schools,                   gap
        relatively affordable housing & low crime rates              Occupation structure weakened by a high proportion
        Tight labour market with strong employment                   of administrative and secretarial jobs
        levels,     minimal     inactivity    and     low            Despite high levels of entrepreneurship, limited
        unemployment rates                                           support for start-ups
        Some sector strengths in construction, and                   Shortage of high quality office space
        business and professional services                           Secondary unattractive office space in the town
        „Excellent‟ borough council and strong public                centre
        sector                                                       Pockets of Deprivation – and a high proportions of
        Evidence of an entrepreneurial spirit and a high             NEETs - in Park Wood and High Street wards
        business density                                             Traffic congestion and limited accessibility in the
        Relatively high resident wages and improving                 town centre
        workplace wages                                              Operation Stack disrupting businesses and residents
        Large proportion of residents educated to                    in the borough
        degree level                                                 Rail connectivity to London slow and infrequent
        Improving schools performance at A*-C GCSE                   when compared to elsewhere
        level                                                        Evening economy offer limited for families
        Key Tourism assets: Millennium River Park,
        Kent countryside, Leeds Castle and the town
        centre



            Opportunities                                                               Threats
        Creating distinctiveness and capturing wealth                 Global competition
        through independent retail in the town centre                 Competition from nearby growth areas and Kings
        Increased population and employment levels                    Hill for inward investment and labour
        arising from Growth Point status                              Relocation of HE institutes and businesses to
        Potential sector strengths identified in the                  elsewhere in the region
        media and creative industries, business and                   CTLR and its impact on the decisions of investors
        professional services, retail and leisure, the                and workers
        rural economy and sustainable construction                    Limited future investment in the railway
        sectors                                                       The potential of Kent International Gateway to
        Maximising the potential of the river Medway                  exacerbate the low wage economy, and add to
        and enhancing the evening economy offer                       traffic congestion and destroy the rural landscape
        Public services improvement through urban
        extension plans
        Meeting the demand for high quality office
        space
        Harnessing the borough‟s entrepreneurial spirit
        and interest in the media and the creative
        industries
        Utilising creative and media sector assets,
        including UCCA and the Maidstone Studios




                                                            - 29 -                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
3.56.   In summary, the main competitive advantages for Maidstone in relation to
        the seven drivers in the competitiveness pyramid are:

              Quality of life – high quality public services and a rural setting.
              Human capital – residents are relatively highly skilled.

3.57.   Conversely, the barriers to growth are:

              Specialisms – Maidstone has few sector specialisms contributing to
              low levels of innovation;
              Connectivity – the lack of high speed rail services to London and
              congestion around the borough are disincentives to inward investors;
              Innovation – a weak innovation record an under-developed HE sector
              and weak links between education and business.
              Investment – there is strong market interest in Maidstone but a lack
              of high quality sites and premises constrains the success rate (see
              Section 6C).
              Governance structure – while Maidstone has a good local authority,
              its capacity to deliver economic development is limited and subregional
              governance arrangements are still to be confirmed (see Section 8).




                                         - 30 -                     SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Section 4:
Analysis of Key
Sectors




        - 31 -    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
4.     ANALYSIS OF KEY SECTORS

4.1.   The Economic Development Strategy must be guided by an informed view of
       the sectors with good prospects for growth in Maidstone. We are mindful that
       the public sector should not attempt to „pick winners‟; it does not have
       privileged information about which sectors of the economy will grow, and
       which will not. However there are circumstances in which it makes sense for
       interventions to have a sectoral focus, based on considerations of market
       failure and/or social and environmental benefits.

4.2.   For example, the Leitch Review made it clear that education and training
       provision needs to be tailored to employer demand, and this in turn requires
       foresight into the sectors and occupations most likely to grow. Similarly,
       experience of delivering business support services suggests that, in many
       instances, interventions need to take into account their sector or industry
       background - clients feel more confident with an adviser or mentor that has
       experience and/or understanding of their own situation. Delivering „sector
       neutral‟ interventions might therefore carry risks in terms of less effective
       delivery through poor take up, lower quality client facing service or reduced
       impact.

4.3.   We devote significant attention to sectors in this report, reflecting the
       aspiration among many stakeholders for Maidstone to become a more
       distinctive place with sector specialisms. This section therefore aims to
       provide the best indications/foresight to inform the strategy.

4.4.   A significant proportion of job growth will occur from the planned scale of
       population growth. This includes employment growth in: retail and leisure,
       local services, and the public sector – including, health, education and public
       services. However, future economic prosperity will depend on growth in high
       value added sectors, and specifically companies providing goods or services
       exported outside the area, where skills, knowledge and innovation give them
       a competitive advantage. Our analysis in this chapter focuses on the
       following sectors:

             Business and professional services;
             Retail and leisure;
             Creative industries;
             Rural industries;
             Construction;
             Public sector;
             Logistics; and
             Manufacturing.
4.5.   These were sectors which emerged for consideration from our data analysis
       and from interviews with stakeholders. Each is considered in turn below in
       relation to:

             national growth forecasts;
             regional growth forecasts;
             existing jobs/firms in Maidstone;
                                              - 32 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                recent growth performance in Maidstone;
                sector support activities provided by SEEDA and Locate in Kent; and
                local aspirations.

4.6.    We conclude by identifying the sectors which should be prioritised for the
        strategy. In Chapter 6A, we go on to identify the interventions that could be
        pursued to support their growth.


        Business and Professional Services

4.7.    Business and professional services covers an array of predominantly office-
        based activities such as: legal, real estate, IT, accountancy, consultancy,
        architecture, etc. A town of Maidstone‟s size, county town status, and
        strategic position should be attractive to professional and business services
        companies serving local, regional and national markets.

4.8.    Nationally, the financial and business services sector continues to experience
        long term growth, reflecting the UK‟s competitive advantage and the
        emergence of London as a global centre for financial and business services.
        Looking forward, the Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts
        that business services employment will account for an even larger share of
        total employment in the UK and this view is shared by other forecasting
        houses22.

4.9.    Levels of employment growth are likely to vary across the sector in the
        coming years, with the IT, advertising and legal sectors expected to perform
        well according to CEBR. Job growth in the architecture and engineering
        sectors should be sustained by a robust construction industry. The South
        East is well placed to capture growth in the sector. It has 24 universities and
        Higher Education Institutions supplying over 76,000 graduates per annum.
        Over 10,000 of these graduates studied Business or Administration, just
        under 4,000 studied Law and a similar number studied Computer Sciences.
        Indeed the South East is the leading UK region for IT skills with a fifth of the
        UK IT workforce - 513,000 adults have technical IT skills and of those
        331,000 have advanced programming skills.

4.10.   Business services companies, as the name suggests, rely on a large vibrant
        business stock to service, and a healthy demand for their products and
        services. The Greater South East provides a massive and expanding market
        for Maidstone business and professional services companies. Population and
        housing growth should also act as a stimulus for growth of the local
        professional services sector, raising demand for legal, architectural,
        accountancy services, etc23.

4.11.   Maidstone has many of the attributes that appeal to business and
        professional services companies. It is close to London – one of the world‟s
        business and financial centres – and is well served by the road network and
        has a direct rail link to the capital. Maidstone‟s proximity to the M20 is


        22
           See Forecasting Eye: A regular briefing for business planners, June 2007, Jaspreet Sehmi, centre for
        economics and business research
        23
           In contrast, the dominance of the public sector in Maidstone may mean that demand for business
        services is weaker in Maidstone than elsewhere.

                                                           - 33 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        particularly attractive to companies needing access to markets in Kent and
        the Greater South East. The borough also has a pool of highly skilled
        residents; competitive office rental rates; and the town centre provides
        access to local services and amenities.

4.12.   As a result of these strategic assets, and its civic and administrative role,
        Maidstone has a relatively healthy professional services sector. The borough
        is home to medium sized companies such as ASB Law, Towergate Insurance
        and DHA Planning Consultants and many other SMEs. The Crown, County
        and Magistrates Courts are obviously a key draw to the legal sector.

4.13.   These trends are reflected in the data; in terms of both total employment
        and the number of firms, Maidstone has one of the largest professional and
        business services sectors in Kent. As the figure below illustrates Maidstone
        along with Ashford, has the largest number of firms in Kent. All boroughs in
        Kent have seen a steady increase in the number of firms since 1998, and
        Maidstone has marginally outperformed its neighbours.

        Number of firms working in Business and Professional Services   Source: ABI




4.14.   Examining employment, just under 11,000 people are employed in the sector
        according to latest estimates, significantly more than other local authorities
        in Kent. A large drop in employment was recorded in 2005-6, which warrants
        further monitoring, but may be accounted for by a change in the way ABI
        data is collected.




                                              - 34 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Number employed in Business and Professional Services                       Source: ABI




4.15.   Locate in Kent – the inward investment and promotional agency for Kent and
        Medway - has identified financial and business services as one of its seven
        key sectors. It has supported the attraction and retention of a number of
        businesses such as ASB law, CFA Marketing Communications and Svenska
        Handelbanken AB. The Agency has identified that by far the largest number
        of companies attracted to Maidstone are in the business and professional
        services sector, with the borough attracting proportionally twice as many as
        the average in Kent and Medway24.

4.16.   However, Maidstone‟s strength in business and professional services should
        not be over-stated. Kent as a whole underperforms in this sector thus
        exaggerating Maidstone‟s performance. In a South East context, the picture
        is somewhat different. Of the 7,175 firms based in Maidstone, 30% (2,150)
        are in the „real estate, renting and business‟ sector. This proportion is below
        the South East average (35%) and marginally below the GB average. In
        terms of employment, the proportion of employment in the borough is 15%,
        also below South East (20%) and GB (17%) averages. Thus, for a town of its
        size and status, relative to national and regional averages Maidstone is
        arguably under-represented in professional and business services in a
        regional context.

4.17.   Overall, we conclude that despite under representation at a regional level,
        there are good prospects for growth of business and professional services, if
        the right conditions are put in place. See Chapter 6A.


        Retail and leisure

4.18.   Nationally, the retail and leisure sectors make a significant contribution to
        the economy and to the regeneration of towns, providing an outlet for
        retaining expenditure in the local economy. Retail plays an important part in
        the look and feel of the modern High Street, and can act as a catalyst for




        24
             Locate in Kent research, Maidstone Scrutiny Committee, February 2008

                                                             - 35 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        regeneration. It also provides valuable employment, offering a gateway into
        the workplace for socially excluded groups.

4.19.   Maidstone has a vibrant town centre, which has improved significantly over
        the last decade, and now provides a diverse retail and leisure offer. In the
        face of growing competition, notably from the emergence of large out of
        town retail parks such as Bluewater, Maidstone has performed well. It is
        ranked as one of the top fifty shopping destinations in the UK according to
        Retail Footprint 2007, and has been ranked as a Top 10 retail centre for
        shopping yield in the SEEDA region. Experian‟s 2017 Future Face of Retail
        rankings also placed Maidstone as the 38th top retail location in 2007, and
        forecasted that the centre would remain in this position in 2017.

4.20.   Maidstone has more than 700 shops, two department stores, over 75 cafes
        and restaurants25 covering some 145,000 square metres of retail floor space.
        According to Kent County Council‟s Retail Health Indicators, the town centre
        itself employs 4,423 individuals – surpassing the majority of boroughs in
        Kent26.

4.21.   Average footfall statistics show an increase of 39% between 2001 and
        200527. This has largely been driven by Fremlin Walk, a 50 store space and
        800 multi-storey car park situated on an old Kentish brewery site. Not only
        has this attracted high quality retailers to Maidstone, it is also felt to have
        improved both residents‟ and outsiders‟ perceptions of the town.

4.22.   Survey work by the Federation of Small Business and Town Centre
        Management suggests there are a large number of independent retailers.
        According to this survey, there are 252 independent retailers in Maidstone
        out of 475 available units. This is seen as an asset by stakeholders and one
        which needs to be developed if Maidstone is to develop a distinctive retail
        offer which distinguishes it from other towns and, in turn, capture higher
        value expenditure from wealthy local residents who would otherwise shop
        elsewhere.

4.23.   Maidstone has a reputation as having a lively night time economy and
        attracts people from a wide area. In 2006, 37,166 square metres of evening
        economy space were recorded in Maidstone – significantly more than any
        other town centre in the county28. Consequently, the night time economy is
        a major employer and generator of economic activity. However, the market
        is largely focused on the activities of young people. This is thought by some
        to create a hostile environment for families, and there are calls in some
        quarters for a more diverse evening offer.

4.24.   This was also the conclusion of consultants Bone & Wells Associates who
        were commissioned by the Borough Council in December 2006 to review the
        night time economy in Maidstone. Despite the limited offer, the consultants
        found that the sector makes a major economic contribution, providing 1,500
        direct jobs.


        25
           http://www.greattovisitgreattoshop.com/
        26
           Maidstone exceeds all other town centres in Kent on retail floorspace. Only Canterbury has a higher
        footfall and only Tunbridge Wells has higher retail employment (2005 figures). Kent County Council Retail
        Health Indicators, 2006
        27
           Kent County Council Retail Health Indicators, 2006
        28
           Kent County Council Retail Health Indicators, 2006

                                                            - 36 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
4.25.   There is good collaborative work between public authorities and retailers to
        keep the town centre safe and an attractive place to visit. The Town Centre
        Management (TCM) plays a key role, and has helped to instigate a number
        of community safety schemes such as Maidsafe. TCM also plays an important
        role in marketing the town, maintaining the public realm, organising events
        and festivals, undertaking research, and offering expertise on the future
        development of the town centre.

4.26.   Overall, there are good prospects for further growth of the retail and leisure
        sector. Population growth in the borough and neighbouring Growth Areas
        should increase footfall, and this is reflected in Experian‟s forecasts.


        Creative Industries

4.27.   The creative industries sit at the crossroads between the arts, business and
        technology, and are defined by the UK Creative Industries Taskforce as
        “those industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent
        and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the
        generation and exploitation of intellectual property”29.

4.28.   According to a recent report by the Work Foundation for DCMS, “the UK has
        the largest creative sector in the EU, and relative to GDP probably the largest
        in the world”. Creative and cultural industries play an increasingly important
        role in economic life and almost all commentators expect this to continue.
        The London creative sector is the dominant force in the UK.

4.29.   Whilst traditionally creative industries were valued for their cultural influence,
        the sector now also makes a critical economic contribution. The sector
        contributes 8% of the UK‟s GVA and provides 1.8 million jobs30. Nationally,
        the creative industries are experiencing significant growth. The sector grew
        by an average of 5% per annum between 1997 and 2004 (2% above the
        national average)31.

4.30.   Growth of the sector is being driven by demand for creative products and
        services in both specialist and mainstream business, supported by public
        investment, and helped by London‟s position as a global creative
        powerhouse.

4.31.   The Creative Sector is well developed in the South East, with established
        business clusters in a number of sub sectors, including games development,
        film production and software design. According to SEEDA, there are
        approximately 163,000 employees working in the Creative Industries sector
        in the South East32. Creative businesses in the region are largely small
        businesses or sole traders and the self-employed.

4.32.   In „Creative South East‟, recently commissioned by SEEDA33, three business
        clusters were identified in the region: digital corporate media in Brighton &


        29
             UK Creative Industries Task Force, 1997
        30
             Source: Nesta (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, 2006
        31
          Creative Industries Economic Estimates Statistical Bulletin, September 2006, Department for Culture,
        Media and Sport
        32 Creative South East Report, September 2006, SEEDA
        33 The People Factor: Media clusters and supply chains in the South East

                                                             - 37 -                   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Hove; publishing in Oxford; and film and TV production in Shepperton. Other
        strengths highlighted included: video games; animation; advertising and
        corporate media; film and media; music; and publishing.

4.33.   At present, two of the twenty Enterprise Hubs located in the South East
        focus on the creative industries sector and offer flexible work space – High
        Wycombe and Slough. There are also several innovation centres in the
        South East that encourage the development of creative companies by
        offering flexible work space, including the Brighton Media Centre. The cluster
        in Brighton & Hove employs around 3,000 people compared to an estimated
        1,000 people in Kent.

4.34.   The South East Media Network brings together five regional organisations
        (including Wired Kent) supporting media and communications companies in
        the South East, and acting as a gateway to over 3,000 media businesses in
        the South East. Moreover, South East universities produce a steady supply
        of Creative graduates – 6,300 in 2003/0434. In addition, many of the
        universities offer consultancy services and work directly with businesses in
        the region.

4.35.   Compiling reliable data on the creative industries sector is notoriously
        problematic, in part because definitions of the sector vary and also because
        companies are often very small and not picked up in official figures.

4.36.   At the county level, Locate In Kent reports significant market interest from
        the media production sector, and it is actively promoting its development.
        Research by OC Consulting on behalf of Locate in Kent identified Kent as
        supporting a cluster of some 300 companies in Media and Production
        employing around 1,000 people. The county has two production studios and
        a film office, and is a focus for research of a number of universities across
        the county. Kent is attractive to companies because of its competitive
        location with relatively affordable rents, a good supply of skilled graduates
        and professionals, and the benefit of easy access to London.




        34
             Source: HESA, 2005

                                              - 38 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Source: Locate in Kent

4.37.   The chart above identifies two particularly large clusters: radio and
        television activities and motion picture and video distribution. In
        recognition of this, a network called Media Tree was established with funding
        from SEEDA via the Channel Corridor Partnership. Formerly run by Business
        Link, the network is due to be re-launched by a private company.

4.38.   OC Consulting reported that Maidstone contributes significantly to the Kent
        cluster, notably in the form of Maidstone Studios. Built in 1982, Maidstone
        Studios is a key asset for the borough. The Studios provides complete media
        production services including post production, crewing and transmission.
        Current clients including Disney, BBC, itv.com and endemol. The Studios‟
        activities are clearly an asset to the local community; the company‟s ethos is
        to embed a culture of media and the creative arts in Maidstone by
        encouraging young people from local schools and the university to consider
        the creative industries as a career route. The studio receives applications
        from over 6,000 people each year for work experience.

4.39.   Another obvious strength in Maidstone is the University College for the
        Creative Arts (UCCA) whose alumni include Tracey Emin, Zandra Rhodes
        and Karen Millen. The college was formed through the merger of The Surrey
        Institute of Art & Design, University College and the Kent Institute of Art &
        Design in 2005. Based across five campuses, of which Maidstone is one, the
        university is one of the UK‟s leading institutions for the arts, media and
        design. Traditionally, the university in Maidstone has specialised in media,
        moving images, photographics and introduced one of the first media courses
        nationally in the 1960s. It also has a tradition of print making, illustration
        and graphics. UCCA has developed a close relationship with the Media
        Studios.

4.40.   In order to promote creative and cultural activities in Maidstone, the Council
        has recently been promoting the Creative Maidstone brand. It also seeks to
        promote public art in the town centre.

                                              - 39 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
4.41.   While Maidstone Studios and UCCA are clearly major assets, on their own
        they do not represent a cluster or specialism. For that, we need to be able to
        identify a critical mass of companies, and the evidence for this is somewhat
        mixed. Gavurin Ltd undertook a review of the official data (see State of the
        Economy report) on creative industries in Maidstone using the DCMS
        definition of the sector and corresponding SIC codes. According to the data,
        Maidstone exhibits some relative strength in three industries – „radio and
        television activities‟, „publishing of journals and periodicals‟, and „other
        publishing‟. However, the number of people employed appears modest.

4.42.   The question is, does the recoded data on Maidstone‟s creative industries
        represent the reality on the ground? Gavurin examined four examples: film
        and TV production, web design, graphic design and software and searched
        both its own database and also Yellow Pages. It found employment numbers
        to be modest where they are identified. Thus, based on the official data and
        DCMS definition, the extent to which a critical mass of companies exists in
        Maidstone is inconclusive35.

4.43.   While the data is inconclusive, we are cautiously optimistic that the creative
        and media sector could grow if Maidstone can capitalise on the presence of
        the UCCA and the Media Studios. These opportunities are explored in Section
        6.


        Rural Industries

4.44.   Nationally, rural industries have changed significantly; traditional activities –
        such as farming, mining, and seaside tourism – are no longer the main
        sources of employment and have now been largely replaced by
        manufacturing and service sector jobs36. As a result, the mix of employment
        sectors in rural areas largely mirrors the composition of sectors across
        England as a whole.

4.45.   Despite similarities in their make up, economic performance in the most rural
        areas still lags behind that of urban vicinities. According to the Defra report,
        „Productivity in Rural England‟, this is largely due to access and proximity to
        a critical mass of economic activity in urban areas, raising productivity
        through knowledge transfer, thickening labour markets and improved access
        to consumers and suppliers‟. The view is that more isolated rural areas in
        Britain have a more restricted choice of jobs; limited training opportunities;
        difficulties in accessing public transport; and greater reliance on informal
        networks for finding jobs.

4.46.   SEEDA has acknowledged the importance of the rural economy in the South
        East and a number of regional initiatives are outlined in the RES to support
        rural areas. The Agency states it will:

               support initiatives that integrate local demand and supply of energy,
               with energy efficiency, building on exemplar projects in the region;


        35
           Mapping of the sector in Maidstone has been undertaken but the source has thus far not
        been verified. Similarly, we have been unable to obtain analysis of those Maidstone companies
        that are part of the Media Tree network.
        36
           Productivity in Rural England, November 2005, Rural Economics Unit for the Department
        for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

                                                      - 40 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              stimulate rural enterprise and nurture new and existing businesses
              based on good market intelligence, making use of networks,
              collaborations and co-operatives and centres of excellence;
              support the development of home-based businesses, particularly
              targeting rural and women owned businesses;
              explore and support the potential for new crops for industry (including
              biofuels and bioenergy); and
              exploit the potential for real premium products through „added value‟;
              develop and adopt good quality standards; become closer to markets
              and make best use of opportunities in London and other urban and
              rural markets on the doorstep.

4.47.   Furthermore, SEEDA is now responsible for the delivery of the Rural
        Development Plan for England (representing £30 million in additional EU
        funding over the Corporate Plan period). This money is targeted at support
        for capital projects and training for farmers, growers, foresters, food
        businesses and rural communities.

4.48.   Part of their current work to promote the growth of rural economies is the
        Farm Diversification Grant (FDG) Scheme, which was started in May 2000 as
        a one-year pilot. It continues today to provide grant aid of up to 25% of the
        costs of conversion or refurbishment (subject to a minimum grant of £2,500
        and a maximum of £60,000) to uses outside of Primary Agricultural
        Production. In the past buildings have been converted to a variety of uses -
        light industrial/workshops, office accommodation, self-catering and B&B
        accommodation, children‟s nursery and stables / livery.

4.49.   Maidstone as a whole is „significantly rural‟ by 2005 Local Authority District
        Classifications and a large number of its residents live on the fringes of urban
        areas and in villages. It is part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding
        Natural Beauty. The larger rural towns and villages in Maidstone include
        Harrietsham, Headcorn, Lenham, Marden and Staplehurst, servicing many
        smaller surrounding villages. The Council is in the process of completing work
        relating to the settlement hierarchy with the role and function of the „Rural
        Service Centres‟ expected to be strengthened through judicious
        development. The LDF Core Strategy Preferred Options document highlights
        the importance of these „vital and viable‟ rural locations.

4.50.   The borough‟s rural towns and villages support a large number of rural and
        agricultural businesses. At just under 30% of all firms, Maidstone has a
        larger proportion of businesses in this sector than both the region and
        national averages, and therefore making an important contribution to the
        local economy.




                                               - 41 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Rural Economy
                                                                         Village
                                                                         Fringe
                                                                         Urban




                                                                         Chart 60, Source: Gavurin,
                                                                                  DEFRA



4.51.   The graph below illustrating that rural areas in Maidstone contain a large
        proportion of service and manufacturing firms. Although these numerous
        businesses are varied, the data below shows that construction is a significant
        rural industry. Other important industries include „other business activities‟
        and „hotels and restaurants‟.

        Top Rural Industries by 2 digit SIC   Source: DEFRA, Gavurin




4.52.   Thus, we conclude that the rural economy is an important part of the
        Maidstone economy and opportunities to develop the sector should be
        explored.


                                                  - 42 -               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Construction

4.53.   In the coming years, the construction industry will face the twin challenge of
        massive demand for new housing, and the need for sustainable techniques
        and designs. The Government has set ambitious house building targets –
        outlined in the Housing Green Paper in July 2007 – of 240,000 homes per
        annum by 2016.

4.54.   Overall the built environment is responsible for 47% of carbon emissions
        while the construction industry consumes vast amounts of resources
        annually. If the Government‟s target of a 60% reduction in the 1990 level of
        emissions by 2050 is to be achieved, the construction industry must play a
        central role37.

4.55.   This drive towards greater resource efficiency and more sustainable patterns
        of living is creating a growing demand for new environmentally-sustainable
        designs and construction techniques. This drive is being led by central
        government departments – including CLG and the BERR – who are trying to
        bring the government‟s commitment to sustainable development to bear on
        the construction industry. The drive is also being led by regional
        development agencies, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation.

4.56.   “During the last 30 years of the 20th century house-building rates have
        halved while the number of households grew by 30 per cent. As housing
        accounts for 27 per cent of carbon emissions, we need to substantially cut
        emissions from new homes and work towards zero carbon housing and
        development.” (Eco-towns Prospectus, July 2007, Department for
        Communities and Local Government38)

4.57.   The Government has set out a clear timetable for the progressive tightening
        of building regulations in 2010 and 2013, with the aim of making all new
        homes zero carbon by 201639. This timetable will be supported by Planning
        Policy Statements (including the statement on Climate Change), stamp duty
        relief for zero carbon homes and the „Code for Sustainable Homes‟ (a housing
        efficiency rating system for developers). The Government is also planning to
        build 10 eco-towns nationwide, which will be towns employing the best new
        design and architecture to create zero carbon developments.

4.58.   In April 2007, the Code for Sustainable Homes replaced BRE‟s Ecohomes for
        the assessment of new housing in England. The code provides a benchmark
        for new homes offering guidance on the construction of high performance
        homes built with sustainability in mind. It contains mandatory performance
        levels in six key areas – energy efficiency/ CO2, water efficiency, surface
        water management, site waste management, household waste management
        and use of materials – measured through reviews at two stages – design and
        post-construction.

4.59.   In addition, the government is in the process of developing the Sustainable
        Construction Strategy, which will be launched in summer 2008. This will



        37
             http://www.berr.gov.uk/sectors/construction/sustainability/page13691.html
        38
             http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/doc/Eco-towns
        39

        http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/theenvironment/taskforce/commitmentsignatories/

                                                              - 43 -                     SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        demonstrate joint commitment by Government and industry to a step change
        in performance on sustainability over the years ahead40.

4.60.   The South East, and Kent & Medway in particular, is expected to see a huge
        increase in the construction of homes and infrastructure in the coming years.
        This provides a major opportunity for Kent to develop leading edge skills and
        knowledge in quality and contemporary design, renewable and micro energy
        generation, and sustainable construction. Kent Prospects 2007-2012, the
        economic development strategy for the county, draws attention to these
        opportunities.

4.61.   SEEDA has also set down some guiding principles to ensure its own activities
        support the sustainability agenda. All SEEDA-funded developments will
        achieve Ecohomes/ BREEAM „excellent‟ standard as a minimum, aspiring to
        higher standards of sustainability, including zero carbon development, where
        possible. Its own direct developments and those with which it is associated
        will incorporate water-saving and water-efficient technology, including trials
        of new technologies. The Agency will „support and facilitate the creation of
        demonstrator Resource Recovery Parks, housing clusters of businesses which
        extract maximum value from waste‟. It is now developing proposals for a
        new Institute of Sustainability in the Thames Gateway.

4.62.   Clearly, these regional activities have the potential to benefit construction
        companies in Maidstone. According to the most recent data from the Annual
        Business Inquiry, Maidstone has a significantly higher proportion of firms in
        the construction sector than South East and Great Britain averages (see SOE
        report p.25, chart 2). The construction sector comprises some 15% of all
        firms in the borough and plays an important role in the rural economy in
        Maidstone (see previous section).

4.63.   Anecdotally, local stakeholders have suggested that there are „world class‟
        construction companies in Maidstone and significant potential for growth.
        However, the Council, together with SEEDA need to undertake a more
        rigorous dialogue with these companies to understand where there may be
        opportunities for local companies to exploit.

4.64.   The Council has already stated through its draft LDF policies that it intends to
        take a lead role in promoting sustainable development, and it is leading by
        example through its own activities. The Council‟s new offices are being built
        using sustainable construction techniques – and provide an opportunity to
        showcase local talent in the sector. The Council is keen to build on these
        attributes and is aiming to become a „greener‟ „sustainable‟ local authority
        and gain beacon status by 2010.

4.65.   Therefore, we conclude there are good prospects for growth of the
        construction sector in Maidstone, particularly related to demand for new
        sustainable construction techniques.




             http://www.berr.gov.uk/sectors/construction/sustainability/page13691.html
        40


                                                        - 44 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        The Public Sector

4.66.   Public sector employment accounts for 1 in 5 of all jobs in the UK. From June
        1998 to June 2005 the number of public sector employees increased faster
        than the private sector, rising by 13.2 percent (680,000) compared to 5.7
        percent (1,241,000). The largest increases in public sector employment
        between 1998 and 2005 were in health and social work (an increase of
        300,000 employees) and education (up by 224,000), with public
        administration (128,000) and police services (45,000) also receiving
        significant increases.

4.67.   The last year for which figures are available saw slower growth, with public
        sector employment increasing by 95,000 between June 2004 and June 2005,
        whereas 113,000 new jobs had been created in the previous year to June
        2004. This is part of a wider reduction in the increase in public spending that
        was extended in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. However,
        overall, growth reflects the substantial investment made by the current
        Labour Government in the public sector over the last ten years. Looking
        forward, even with a change of administration, it seems unlikely that there
        will be significant cuts in public sector employment.

4.68.   As the county town for Kent, the public sector is a major employer in
        Maidstone. In addition to Maidstone Borough Council, the sector includes
        Kent County Council, Kent NHS, Police and Fire brigade. There are currently
        23,600 people employed in public administration, education and defence –
        32.9% of all jobs – according to Annual Business Inquiry (2006).

4.69.   Maidstone has a good reputation for providing quality public services. In
        2004, Maidstone Borough Council was assessed as being an „excellent‟
        council under the Audit Commission‟s Comprehensive Assessment (CPA). The
        assessment cited strong leadership, good working relationships with partners
        and particular strengths in cleanliness and recycling41. High quality public
        services – schools, hospitals and Council services - are an important factor in
        attracting high skilled workers. Therefore, it will be important for Maidstone
        to build on this strength.

4.70.   While the proliferation of employment in the public sector is a reason for the
        relatively low wage levels of employees in Maidstone, the sector employment
        provides valuable employment for residents and is a key part of the vision to
        create a 21st Century County Town. Therefore, looking forward, we conclude
        that the public sector will continue to be an important employer in Maidstone.


        Tourism

4.71.   The Council is now finalising a tourism strategy to develop the tourism sector
        in Maidstone. Therefore, we have not undertaken a comprehensive audit of
        the sector. According to Council figures, Maidstone receives 2.5 million day
        visitors and 400,000 staying visitors per year. Total visitor expenditure is
        £142 million a year.42 Leeds Castle in particular draws tourists to the area,
        whilst shopping and museum activities in the town centre, the new



        41
             Comprehensive Performance Assessment, Maidstone Borough Council, 2004
        42
             Maidstone Tourism Strategy Forum, 18th January 2008
                                                            - 45 -                   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Millennium River Park and the Kent countryside are also key assets.
        Therefore, in keeping with the Council‟s aspirations, we consider tourism to
        be a key sector for Maidstone.


        Manufacturing

4.72.   Over the last half a century, deindustrialisation has changed the face of the
        UK economy, resulting in a progressive shift to service sector activities and
        an absolute decline in manufacturing employment. This trend has continued
        over the last ten years. According to the Annual Business Inquiry, the
        number of British enterprises and the number of employees in the
        manufacturing sector in 1998 stood at 184,000 and 4 million respectively. By
        2006 this had dropped to 163,000 enterprises and to around 3 million
        employees.

4.73.   Looking to the future, almost 30,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the
        South East over the period from 2004 to 201443. This represents a rate of
        loss of 0.7 percent per annum. The average fall for both England and the UK
        is expected to be around 1.1 per cent per annum. Engineering is projected
        to see the largest decline in jobs (-14,000), with smaller losses in food, drink
        & tobacco (-2,000).

4.74.   During the Visioning Workshop participants described Maidstone a quarter of
        a century ago as a typical „manufacturing town‟; recalling the decline of
        manufacturing in the borough as one of the most significant drivers of
        change. Today Maidstone‟s manufacturing sector is relatively small. The
        proportion of employees in the sector (6.7%) is below both the South East
        and Great British averages.

        Proportion of employment in manufacturing (1998-2006)

                               30.0




                               25.0




                               20.0                                                                  Great Britain
         Percentage employed




                                                                                                     South East
                                                                                                     Ashford
                                                                                                     Maidstone
                               15.0                                                                  Medway Towns
                                                                                                     Swale
                                                                                                     Tonbridge and Malling
                                                                                                     Tunbridge Wells
                               10.0                                                                  Kent




                                5.0




                                0.0
                                      1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006
                                                                  Year
                                                                                                                             Source: ABI




        43
                     Working Futures 2004-2014: Spatial Report, Skills for Business, 2004



                                                                                  - 46 -                       SHARED INTELLIGENCE
4.75.   While manufacturing employment will continue to decline across the UK, it
        remains a vital part of the UK economy, accounting for over half of the UK‟s
        exports and around three quarters of business research and development.
        The boundary between manufacturing and services is becoming increasingly
        blurred. For every factory producing machine tools, there is demand for
        collaboration with designers, software specialists, financial experts, caterers
        and other service providers. As a result, manufacturing has developed into a
        more knowledge-intensive, innovative sector.

4.76.   Maidstone does not have a reputation for high tech manufacturing. From our
        discussions with stakeholders and analysis of the data, there is not a
        critical mass of manufacturing companies in the borough. Based
        purely on the data, Maidstone does appear to have a concentration of
        companies working in the manufacture of plastics and forest products
        relative to national averages but in absolute terms both sectors are small44.

4.77.   Thus, given the overall low proportion of employment in manufacturing in
        Maidstone and only limited evidence that it supports a critical mass of
        knowledge intensive sub-sectors, we conclude that manufacturing should not
        be a priority for the economic development strategy. Of course, the Council
        should continue to ensure it provides sufficient industrial premises to meet
        prospective demand as described in the Employment Land Study.


        Logistics and Distribution

4.78.   Globalisation and the removal of international barriers to trade have led to an
        increase in trade and distribution between countries, and subsequently the
        expansion of distribution, logistics and warehousing activities. While
        historically, many large companies in the UK have provided their own
        transport link in the distribution chain through their own transport fleets, this
        function is increasingly contracted out to specialist transport companies. As
        a result, more companies specifically tailored to service the logistics and
        distribution needs of larger firms have emerged.

4.79.   Kent is strategically positioned to take advantage of this expanding and
        changing sector, particularly for serving the North European market place. It
        is the closest UK county to mainland Europe, and home to six seaports, an
        international airport, shuttle and freight train services and well connected
        motorways. Kent already has a strong transport and distribution sector.
        According to Locate in Kent, there are 2,400 companies employing some
        35,000 people – this makes the sector a major contributor to the economy.

4.80.   There are 160 freight forwarding companies in Kent including 5 of the top 10
        freight forwarders in the UK. Kent also has a significant number of road
        haulage companies including Christian Salvesen, Wincanton and Tibbett &
        Brittain (Locate in Kent, 2008). One of the county‟s main growth areas in rail
        freight is international freight; there are already 15 railway transportation
        companies employing around 2,000 people, and Kent‟s position will be
        further strengthened by CTLR High Speed 1. In 2003 some, 18.4 million
        tonnes of freight were transported via the Channel Tunnel.



        44
             See State of the Economy Report.

                                                - 47 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
4.81.   Looking to the future, the sector is expected to continue to grow in the UK.
        Environmental concerns will also be more prevalent and may lead to added
        constraints on the use of road vehicles for the carriage of freight.
        Developments in IT will continue to open up market opportunities for
        companies in the distribution sector and will provide ways to support their
        operations (e.g. improved methods of communication with suppliers, actual
        and potential customers, and operatives).

4.82.   Maidstone is an attractive location for logistics and distribution companies
        because of its proximity to the motorway and the channel corridor. Analysis
        of the industrial estates in the borough by GVA Grimley suggests a healthy
        warehousing and distribution sector with low vacancy levels. However, there
        is a debate about the quality of jobs it offers; proponents argue that the
        sector is becoming increasingly technology driven and hence requires higher
        skills, whereas opponents argue that jobs are unskilled and low density and
        will not address the low wage issue in Maidstone.

4.83.   The proposed rail freight depot at Junction 8 in Maidstone, Kent International
        Gateway (see appendix), illustrates the arguments for and against the
        expansion of the warehousing sector. The KIG proposal is a major Strategic
        Rail Freight Interchange, together with large scale warehousing, which is one
        of several sites being considered in the South East. If KIG is granted consent
        it is probable that it will have a significant impact on the direction of
        Economic Development and land use planning in the borough. As such, this
        Strategy may need to be reappraised if KIG is given the go ahead because of
        the impact it will have on commercial and residential development, which
        may take the borough in a different direction to that set out in this
        document.

4.84.   The Council and a number of partners have reservations that KIG may make
        it difficult to deliver the objectives set out in this document. The Council is
        concerned that there is insufficient supply of labour to meet prospective
        demand and that workers commuting from outside the borough will put
        additional strain on the transport network. Moreover, there are concerns
        about the environmental impact KIG will have, in terms of pollution,
        congestion and the impact on the landscape.

4.85.   In conclusion, in the South East region there is clearly market demand and
        capacity for growth in the logistics sector. However, we do not consider it
        should be a priority sector for this Economic Development Strategy because
        it does not align with the economic vision prepared with stakeholders and
        because of the Council‟s view on the relative low wage rates associated with
        warehouse development, and the tendency for it to require large sites
        generating low employment densities. Of course the Council should continue
        to ensure through its planning functions, an adequate supply of industrial
        and warehouse sites and premises to support the organic growth of the
        sector to meet demand.




                                               - 48 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Summary of Sectors Analysis

4.86.   The matrix below uses a traffic light system to summarise the strengths and
        weaknesses in each sector based on the information described above.




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         Bus&Pro services

         Retail and leisure

         Media/Creative

         Rural industries

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         Logistics and
         distribution

         Manufacturing




4.87.   In summary, from the analysis above we conclude that the Council should
        proceed with its economic development and planning functions on the basis
        of supporting growth in: professional and business services; retail and
        leisure; media/creative; rural industries; construction; the public sector; and
        tourism. Actions to support the growth of these sectors are considered in
        Section 6.




                                                                        - 49 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Section 5:
The Economic Vision
for Maidstone




             - 50 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
5.     MAIDSTONE IN 2028: VISION AND OBJECTIVES

5.1.   Growth Point status provides an opportunity for Maidstone to think big, to
       raise aspirations around a new growth orientated vision, and to establish a
       clear direction of travel. As part of the process for preparing the strategy,
       Shared Intelligence facilitated a visioning event with over 40 stakeholders
       employing scenario planning techniques.

5.2.   The economic vision for the borough agreed at the workshop with
       stakeholders is described below. The Vision sits alongside the spatial vision
       set out in the LDF Core Strategy Preferred Options document (see Appendix).


       Maidstone in 2028: The Economic Vision

5.3.   At the workshop, alternative scenarios for the future shape of the Maidstone
       economy were developed. From the preferred scenario, the following vision
       was drawn up and agreed with stakeholders.

         “In 2028, Maidstone is a model „21st century county town‟, a distinctive place, known
         for its blend of sustainable rural and urban living, excellence in public services, vibrant
         service sector-based economy, and above all, quality of life.

         Highly skilled, wealthy people continue to be attracted to the borough to live; while
         many commute out to work in London or elsewhere in Kent, more and more work in
         the town centre, in the surrounding rural centres, or from home. In the evenings and
         at weekends, residents choose to spend their money in Maidstone because of its
         unique, high quality retail and leisure offer.

         The centre of town truly is „a great place to visit, a great place to shop‟; people come
         to Maidstone for its mix of high street and independent shopping outlets. Maidstone
         could never be called a clone town with its boutiques, high fashion outlets, and choice
         of organic retailers. Maidstone has moved even higher up the retail rankings. In the
         evenings the town centre comes alive; a safe place for families out for an evening at
         the theatre, the new concert hall, or the many restaurants; young people from all over
         Kent come to Maidstone because of the famous nightlife.

         A culture of lifelong learning has been embedded in Maidstone in recognition of the
         importance of education and skills. Young people leave school with the qualifications
         they need to succeed in life. The further and higher education sectors have expanded;
         the University College of the Creative Arts (UCCA) now has its largest campus in
         Maidstone and is actively involved in day-to-day life. Vocational and community-based
         learning opportunities are aligned with the needs of local employers.

         Environmental sustainability underpins everything we do in Maidstone – the local
         authority is leading by example as it has done for many years and is the first carbon
         neutral council in the country. Our local businesses are exploiting the challenges and
         opportunities of global climate change. Continual investment in the road network over
         the last 20 years means traffic now flows freely in and out of Maidstone; but more and
         more people are choosing to leave their cars at home or at the Park and Ride car
         parks, and instead take the bus, walk or cycle. Express rail services now run to
         London, providing an important economic stimulus.

         Maidstone is a by-word for excellence in public services, home to the highly respected
         borough and county councils, leading schools, further and higher education providers,
         and first class health services. New residential development in the town centre and in
         the urban extension brought yet more highly skilled people to the borough and
         provided the impetus for new investment in public services.


                                                     - 51 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
         SEEDA has identified Maidstone as a diamond of growth in recognition of the fact that
         the borough is now a major driver of growth in the Greater South East. The Maidstone
         Economic Partnership was highly influential in this decision. Like any county town, a
         large proportion of employment is still in the public sector, and as a booming shopping
         destination, the retail sector is also a key employer. However, alongside this, more
         knowledge-intensive businesses are visible in Maidstone - a thriving business and
         professional services sector has emerged, including many firms serving markets
         beyond the boundaries of Maidstone.

         The creative and media sector has grown rapidly in the last 20 years - the University
         College of the Creative Arts (UCCA) and Mid-Kent College are nationally renowned
         centres of excellence. The Media Studios produce even more nationally acclaimed
         programmes. Graduates are leaving university and setting up their own businesses in
         the new Maidstone Enterprise Centre, taking advantage of incubation space, virtual
         offices, and other high tech facilities. Our rural communities are important community
         and commercial centres in their own right. They are a major part of our tourism offer,
         which also includes Leeds Castle and the riverside in Maidstone town centre.

         Maidstone has a clear and distinctive offer to investors; they know that for the cachet
         of being in a county town, good connectivity, a ready supply of high quality affordable
         office space, a pool of creative skilled labour, and good work-life balance, then
         Maidstone is the place to be.”

5.4.   The vision translates into 10 key objectives which provide the driving force
       for the rest of the strategy:


       10 Key Objectives

          1.   Strengthen the town centre – create a higher quality retail and leisure offer
               to attract and retain more expenditure in the borough.
          2.   Attract more knowledge-intensive service sector-based companies,
               ensuring a steady pipeline of high quality sites for commercial
               development.
          3.   Develop a more distinctive local economy with sector specialisms –
               professional and business services, creative and media sector, public sector,
               construction, and tourism.
          4.   Embed a culture of lifelong learning and ensure providers respond to the
               needs of employers.
          5.   Support the expansion of the HE sector through UCCA and Mid Kent
               College, and retain graduates in the borough to raise skills and foster
               innovation.
          6.   Develop a more entrepreneurial and innovative local economy.
          7.   Improve the transport network to underpin economic growth, enhancing
               access in and around the town centre and to local, regional and national
               markets.
          8.   Enable rural towns and villages to develop as economic centres.
          9.   Embed principles of environmental sustainability in public sector
               actions to combat climate change, and support companies in Maidstone to
               exploit the economic opportunities.
          10. Improve business engagement by establishing an economic partnership
              to take forward the economic development strategy.




                                                   - 52 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Section 6:
The Economic
Development
Strategy




             - 53 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
6.     THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

6.1.   Turning the economic vision for Maidstone into reality and delivering the 10
       objectives requires a clear strategy and Action Plan for the Council and
       partners to take forward. Public sector interventions should be in an enabling
       capacity where there is market failure in order to create the conditions for
       growth. There is already a significant agenda for change being pursued by
       the Council as part of the development of the LDF and the Sustainable
       Community Strategy, and at county and regional level through Kent C.C and
       SEEDA. It is essential that the strategy aligns with these other policy
       documents.

6.2.   The Strategy is structured around enhancing the seven drivers of
       competitiveness described in the competitiveness pyramid. In this section we
       consider actions to strengthen the following five drivers:

          A. Developing Specialisms: Priority Sectors;

          B. Creating a more Innovative and Entrepreneurial Economy;

          C. Attracting and Retaining Investment;

          D. Developing A Culture of Lifelong Learning: Human Capital; and

          E. Transport and Connectivity.

6.3.   Captured in all of the above is the sixth driver of competitiveness „quality of
       life‟ - the need to create high quality living and working environments and a
       standard of living that will attract highly skilled workers and knowledge
       intensive businesses. The seventh driver - Governance arrangements - is
       discussed in Section 8.




                                              - 54 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
A.     Developing Specialisms: Priority Sectors
A.1.   Developing a more specialised economy will be key to
                                                                    Objective 3:
       improving the competitiveness of the Maidstone
                                                                    Developing sector
       economy, and was identified as a key part of the
                                                                    specialisms
       Vision.
                                                                    Other objectives
A.2.   In Section 4, we identified seven priority sectors for       supported:
       the Maidstone economy:
                                                                    Objective 1:
             Business and professional services;                    Strengthen the town
             Retail and leisure;                                    centre

             Creative and Media;                                    Objective 2:
             Sustainable Construction;                              Ensure a steady
                                                                    supply of high
             The Rural Economy;                                     quality employment
                                                                    sites.
             Public sector; and
             Tourism.                                               Objective 5:
                                                                    Expand the HE
                                                                    sector
A.3.   Business and professional services, and retail and
       leisure, already account for a significant proportion of     Objective 6:
       jobs in the borough and should continue to grow if the       Support start ups
       right conditions are put in place. Critically, the Council   and foster
       has a key enabling role to play through the LDF and          innovation.
       most significantly plans for the town centre. The
                                                                    Objective 8:
       public sector is an important employer in Maidstone,
                                                                    Sensitive
       fundamental to Maidstone‟s civic and administrative          development of
       role and therefore the vision to create a 21st Century       rural towns and
       County Town. Population growth in Maidstone and              villages.
       Kent as a whole should mean this continues to be an
       important sector for the borough.

A.4.   The creative and media sector, sustainable construction, the rural economy,
       and tourism are smaller components of the economy but sectors where there
       is a strong aspiration or policy drive for growth together, and some local
       assets on which to build. Each sector is considered in more detail below.


       Business and Professional Services

A.5.   In Section 3 we concluded that there are opportunities for the expansion of
       professional and business services in Maidstone. Likewise, developing this
       sector is a key part of the vision to become a 21st century county town. From
       our research and interviews with stakeholders, in order to support the growth
       of professional and business services we recommend the Council focuses its
       efforts on two areas:

             ensuring a steady supply of high quality office accommodation; and
             supporting the development of business networks, including the
             activities of the Professional Hub.


                                         - 55 -                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
A.6.    A very clear message from public and private sector stakeholders in
        Maidstone is that the supply of high quality office space in Maidstone is
        acting as a constraint to the growth of office-based services. This is a
        critical concern given the success of neighbouring Kings Hill Business Park,
        which has planning permission for further expansion, the growth of
        Crossways in Dartford, and the proposals for major office development at
        Ashford, Ebbsfleet, and elsewhere in the Thames Gateway. The view locally is
        that if the situation does not change then these competing office locations
        will absorb footloose investment that might otherwise have located in
        Maidstone, and there is also the threat that indigenous companies looking to
        trade up will move out of the borough.

A.7.    According to the Employment Land Study, Maidstone has a large office stock
        – the largest in Kent according to 2004 figures with some 281,000 sq.m.
        However, according to agents, much of the town centre office stock is
        secondary with high vacancy rates, particularly around King Street,
        Lower Stone Street, London Road, the Power Hub and Albion Road. The
        Study notes the lack of office development in Maidstone between 1991 and
        200045 reinforcing the observation that stock is older and unfit for modern
        business needs. Anecdotally, local employers complain that there is very little
        choice other than the Eclipse Business Park when they wish to trade up.
        Moreover, rental rates are generally high at Eclipse because of the lack of
        alternatives.

A.8.    In contrast to these observations, the Council highlights the fact that some
        sites earmarked for office development have failed to come forward.
        Anecdotally, agents suggest that the current economic climate with rising
        construction costs and falling yields means the profit margins are being
        squeezed and therefore to some extent this is a reflection of the national
        picture. However, there are also local factors at work; it is possible that the
        large stock of low-grade cheap office space in the town, and uncertainties
        over its future adds to the risk to developers. The Council needs to work with
        developers to understand the barriers to development and how to unlock
        new sites in the town centre.

A.9.    If more office space were available, local agents are confident it could be let.
        This view is expressed in the Employment Land Study by GVA Grimley, which
        concluded “there is latent demand for good quality office floorspace within
        Maidstone town centre and potentially at edge-of-town locations”. This is
        evidenced by high take-up and occupancy levels of good quality office space
        in the town centre and by the success of the Eclipse Business Park, which has
        seen good take up in the first phase and has attracted Towergate Insurance,
        Europe‟s largest independent insurance intermediary, to anchor Phase II of
        the development in 2009.

A.10.   Transforming the office market in Maidstone clearly presents a number of
        highly complex challenges, particularly related to the town centre market. In
        our view, this warrants a comprehensive approach in the form of a town
        centre Area Action Plan following adoption of the Core Strategy. Some of the
        key challenges to be addressed by the Council include:




        45
             p. 81, GVA Grimley (2007) „Employment Land Review‟

                                                            - 56 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              A prioritised, phased development programme for the office
              sector – the Council should prepare a phased programme of office
              development in Maidstone to ensure a pipeline of sites come forward.
              It should work with partners to identify where there are barriers to
              development. Potential sites are highlighted in the Employment Land
              Study and summarised in Section 7.
              Revitalising town centre stock - the Council should work with local
              agents and land owners to prepare site-by-site appraisals of town
              centre office blocks, testing the feasibility for demolition,
              refurbishment or conversion. The Employment Land Study suggest
              that redevelopment of some of the sites would be favourable. Allowing
              mixed-use development with a minimum requirement of the existing
              floorspace through Section 106 agreements, might provide the
              necessary incentive for the market to make this happen. Revitalising
              the town centre stock will also require improvements to parking and
              accessibility (see Section 6E)
              A phased approach to town centre and edge of town
              development. Planning policy guidance states that development
              should be focused in the town centre, which is key to supporting its
              vibrancy. However, the market for out of town office space with
              parking appears to be stronger. In recognition that there may be long
              lead-in times to site assembly and redevelopment of town centre sites,
              some development of complementary out of town business park
              accommodation may be needed in accessible locations.

A.11.   Ensuring the right office market offer is in place will enable Locate in Kent to
        market Maidstone more vigorously as a location for business and professional
        services, as well as other office-based sectors.

A.12.   Beyond the property market, Maidstone Council should support the
        networking activities of companies in the sector. A number of professional
        services companies have recently joined forces to form an informal network
        called „The Professional Hub‟, which has twenty members including some
        from outside the borough. According to their mission statement, the Hub is a
        group of Maidstone focussed professionals whose aims are to:

              promote growth and investment in the South East;
              provide a focal point for business advice and information;
              be a conduit for interaction with local and regional government;
              develop Maidstone as a centre of professional excellence supporting
              business in the South East;
              raise awareness of Maidstone as a centre of professional excellence
              and establish a credible identity.

A.13.   Members of the Hub are seeking to exploit opportunities to collaborate, and
        to attract business to Maidstone from outside the borough, particularly
        London. This is clearly a major asset for the borough and the activities of the
        Hub should be supported. As a starter, the hub should be invited to join the
        new economic partnership for the borough (see Section 8). This will help to
        improve business engagement and local understanding of business
        requirements in the sector.

                                               - 57 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
         Recommended Actions

            1. Engage with local agents/land owners to undertake site-by-site appraisals
               of secondary office accommodation and test the feasibility for conversion,
               demolition or refurbishment, as part of a comprehensive approach to office
               development.
            2. Prepare a prioritised, phased programme of office development, identifying
               sites for prime high quality office space in the town centre and for
               complementary edge of town development.
            3. Support the networking activities of the Professional Hub, as part of the
               new Local Economic Partnership.



        Retail and leisure

A.14.   A strong retail and leisure sector was identified as an important platform of
        the economic vision for Maidstone. It is vital for the vibrancy of the town
        centre, provides valuable employment to lower skilled residents, and helps to
        retain expenditure in the borough. As described in Section 4, Maidstone has a
        healthy retail sector, buoyed by the development of Fremlin Walk, but part of
        the vision must be to build on this success.

A.15.   The future of the retail and leisure sector in Maidstone is inherently tied to
        the future of the town centre. While it performs well today, the town centre
        must continually develop its offer if it is to stay ahead of competing centres
        in the region. There remain underperforming areas of the town and scope to
        develop a better retail circuit from Fremlin Walk through to the Star Arcade.

A.16.   The Council is assessing future requirements of the sector through a retail
        capacity study. Without pre-empting the findings of this study, we
        recommend that the Council develops a „post-Fremlin‟ retail strategy for the
        next phase of development.

A.17.   In keeping with the vision to make Maidstone a more distinctive place, there
        are opportunities to build a high quality retail offer, with a balance of
        independent and mainstream retailers. According to the Town Centre
        Management, there are a limited number of vacant retail outlets (9% in
        2006) and those that are vacant, are secondary space unsuitable for high-
        end retailers. Developing independent and boutique retail has proved
        successful in other parts of the country including Lewes and Brighton.




                                                 - 58 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
         Case Studies: The Old Needlemakers and The Lanes

         The Old Needlemakers, Lewes

         Lewes, like Maidstone, is the administrative centre of East Sussex. Perched on the edge of
         the River Ouse, it is a historic town, and the narrow streets and twisting lanes lie much
         unchanged.

         The Old Needlemakers is the shell of an early 19th century candle and needle factory. It
         now contains small craft-based shops selling jewellery, toys, fragrances, candles and an
         excellent cafe. The building retains huge beams, old woodblock floors, stable doors, and a
         deep well which provided the water for the steam driven machinery. As well as supporting
         employment, the workshops and studios have made a major contribution to Lewes‟s retail
         and tourism offer.

         The Lanes, Brighton

         Brighton‟s Lanes are one of the most successful examples of independent retail
         transforming a town centre. This area of Brighton was due to be demolished in the early
         1960s as it was seen as dirty and run-down. However, public opinion turned against the
         scheme and today the Lanes are a fashionable area of expensive, tourist-orientated shops,
         cafes and wine bars.

         Over the years, the Lanes have also developed niche areas of independent retail. There are
         dozens of independent jewellers and a large number of beauty shops and hair salons. So
         much so that the Lanes compete well with London in these fields.

         A proactive group of businesses came together to promote the Lanes. This network - The
         Lanes Business Network – is a free membership organisation of over hundred traders. It
         provides networking opportunities, advice, information, newsletters and social events.




A.18.   Following the outcome of the retail capacity study, the Council should be in a
        clearer position to determine the scale and type of future retail floorspace
        required. In our view, an Area Action Plan is needed as part of a
        comprehensive approach to the town centre dealing with this and other town
        centre issues.

A.19.   Similarly, in the leisure sector, the Council has an aspiration to bring new
        cultural facilities to the town such as a concert hall, as part of a more diverse
        and higher quality evening offer. Opportunities to exploit the river are also
        being examined to enhance the town centre tourism and cultural and leisure
        offer will be put forward in the Tourism Strategy.



        Recommended Actions

           4. Following the outcome of the Retail Capacity Study, identify the scale and
              type of retail and leisure space required, as part of a comprehensive
              approach.
           5. Attract high quality cultural facilities befitting a county town and improve
              the public realm in the town centre.




                                                     - 59 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Creative and Media

A.20.   The creative industries and particularly the media sector are seen as a
        potentially unique selling point for Maidstone, and therefore an important
        part of the vision. Moreover, it is an important sector because creativity in
        business supports innovation and therefore enhances competitiveness.

A.21.   While the creative and media sector in Maidstone today could arguably be
        described as embryonic, there are opportunities for supporting its
        development which the Council and partners should explore. In our view, the
        focus should be on:

               supporting the expansion of UCCA and Maidstone Studios,
               developing an enterprise centre with a creative/media focus; and
               reinventing the Media Tree network.


A.22.   The expansion of the University of Creative and Cultural Arts (UCCA) in
        Maidstone presents the greatest opportunity for growth of the sector. Today
        there are around 750 students at the Maidstone campus – 180 undertaking
        FE courses, the rest HE. Across all its campuses, UCCA has over 6000
        students. An expanded campus and more students could bring significant
        benefits to the borough by increasing the supply of creative talent and
        developing knowledge transfer capacity. The University is carrying out a
        Sustainability Review to test different options, one of them being
        consolidation in Maidstone. Negotiations with the Council are ongoing and a
        potential site at Junction 7 had been identified.

A.23.   The university is keen to develop a stronger town centre presence, and if a
        site could be found, it would add to the town centre‟s vibrancy. As part of the
        site by site appraisals of town centre office stock, consideration should be
        given to opportunities for conversion to student accommodation. This has
        been the experience in other towns and cities across the UK. For example,
        Southend-on-Sea has begun to see the benefits of its new HE/FE campus,
        which has increased enrolment figures by 9000, and offers state of the art
        facilities including incubation space.

         CASE STUDY: HE and FE Campus in Southend

         The £53 million combined South East Essex College and new University of Essex campus
         demonstrates the positive impact of bringing education into the heart town centre. Based
         just off the High Street, the development offers modern, state-of-the-art teaching and
         business environments in a town centre location. Further phases will eventually mean
         some 3,000 students in the town, many from overseas. The site is currently home to three
         academic departments, their students benefiting from modern lecture rooms, rehearsal
         studios with panoramic sea views and high-tech medical skills labs. Future phases of
         development will seek to develop more cultural facilities.

         The Southend Campus is also home to the Business Hub, a specialist resource for
         companies of all sizes, which aims to foster enterprise and innovation. The Business Hub
         provides a wide range of incubation and support services and contemporary, professional
         facilities including an i-Lab, and a Business Incubation Centre for start-up businesses.
         Renaissance Southend URC, and Southend-On-Sea Borough Council report that the new
         campuses has brought new life to the town centre and is providing a catalyst for the town‟s
         regeneration. Expanding the HE sector to expand in Maidstone and finding an appropriate
         site for UCCA to develop its town centre presence could bring similar beneficial effects.


                                                      - 60 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
A.24.   If a town centre site cannot be found, the university could develop its
        presence via a new Maidstone Enterprise Centre, offering exhibition space for
        creative and cultural projects as well as incubation space suitable for creative
        companies. UCCA is seeking to expand its knowledge transfer capacity and
        the Centre could provide a vehicle to do so. The Enterprise Centre is explored
        further in Section 6B.

A.25.   In addition to growth of the university, the Council should support the
        planned expansion of Maidstone Studios. The Council should work with
        Locate in Kent (which is targeting production and media broadcasting firms
        as one of its seven key sectors) to agree how to develop Maidstone‟s offer.
        This will almost certainly be tied to the studios and the university.

A.26.   Subject to further evaluation of the activities of Media Tree, the Council,
        Business Link, SEEDA and the Media Studios should input to the new
        business plan for the network. This should consider in particular how to
        ensure Maidstone creative and media companies are engaged with the
        activities of SEEDA, including the South East Media Network.

        Recommended Actions

           6. Support the expansion and consolidation of UCCA in Maidstone, and the
              university‟s efforts to develop its knowledge transfer capacity.
           7. Test the feasibility of a new Maidstone Enterprise Centre with incubation
              units suitable for media companies and exhibition space for the university.
           8. Partners should input to the preparation of the new business plan for the
              Media Tree network to make the network sustainable.




        The Rural Economy

A.27.   The analysis in Section 4 concluded that Maidstone has a relatively large
        rural economy and stakeholders highlighted it as an important part of the
        economic vision. Construction, hotels and restaurants, and agriculture appear
        to be particular strengths according to the data. The Kent Rural Delivery
        Framework provides the overarching strategy for the sector at a county level.
        In our view, this is a more appropriate spatial level for the coordination of
        actions to support the sector. Therefore, the role of the Council should be to
        focus on:

              undertaking more detailed research into the nature of the rural
              economy in Maidstone and linking into the activities being promoted
              by the Kent Rural Board and SEEDA; and
              developing rural towns and villages as economic centres in their own
              right through supportive LDF policies.


A.28.   A more in depth study into Maidstone‟s rural economy is needed to influence
        Kent-wide policies. At present, it is unclear how exactly Maidstone will benefit
        from the proposed actions in the Kent Rural Delivery Framework.

                                                 - 61 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
A.29.   One potential area is the emerging trend for consuming local, specialist, free
        range and organic agricultural produce. The Kent Rural Delivery Framework
        prioritises raising demand for Kentish products amongst Kent consumers.
        The Council should support efforts to do so through Farmers Markets or
        independent retailing in the town centre.

A.30.   The Council should also consider how to encourage rural centres to develop
        as small economic centres in their own right. According to the Rural Delivery
        Framework, Kent is „well positioned to further develop its rural knowledge
        economy – creating new and higher quality industries‟. On the one hand, this
        means land-based research and development – the County has the largest
        grouping of knowledge intensive businesses in the agricultural and food
        sector in the South East. On the other, this means attracting a wider variety
        of knowledge-intensive businesses from other sectors, many of whom have
        already been attracted by Kent‟s proximity to London and high quality rural
        environment. Policies to support rural towns and villages are being pursued
        as part of the LDF.


        Recommended Actions

           9. Undertake further research to understand the nature of the rural economy
              in Maidstone. Further to this, consider how regional and county initiatives
              could better support Maidstone‟s rural sector.
           10. Include policies in the LDF Core Strategy to support the vitality of rural
               service centres.
           1.

        Sustainable Construction

A.31.   In the sectors analysis in Section 4, our analysis identified construction as a
        potential specialism in Maidstone. The scale of development proposed in the
        South East and the policy drive towards more eco-friendly homes, means
        there are good prospects for growth of construction and civil engineering.
        Working with partners, the Council needs to ensure that construction
        companies in Maidstone are primed to exploit the economic opportunities,
        and that there is a supply of skilled labour.

A.32.   In order to support growth of the sector, the Council should focus on:

                supporting the expansion of Mid Kent College and its development as a
                specialist centre for construction; and
                work with SEEDA to link in with regional activities to support the
                sector.

A.33.   Mid-Kent College offers a potential competitive advantage for Maidstone.
        There are already extensive vocational training facilities and accompanying
        courses in construction at the Maidstone site. From our discussions with the
        college it is looking to significantly strengthen its operations including a
        multi-million pound redevelopment of the campus at Oak Park. While
        proposals are still being developed, the college would be interested in
        partnering up with local employers in order to be more responsive to local
        business needs. The college has recognised the gap between the skills and
        knowledge of smaller local businesses and those required to meet new
        environmental sustainability standards.

                                                   - 62 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
A.34.   The college has indicated that the new campus would consolidate its existing
        vocational training offer but, significantly, also enable it to develop a higher
        education offer in civil engineering. The Council should support the College‟s
        proposals to redevelop the campus and to specialise in construction.

A.35.   In addition to supporting the expansion of the college, the Council should
        also ensure that construction companies in Maidstone are benefiting from the
        support activities of SEEDA. For example, the RDA is scoping the potential for
        a centre for sustainable construction in the Thames Gateway which could
        benefit businesses in Maidstone.


         Recommended Actions

            11. Support the efforts of Mid Kent College to expand its operations and to
                develop HE provision in the construction sector.
            12. Improve local understanding of the nature of the construction sector in
                Maidstone and the opportunities to capitalise on the sustainability agenda.




        The Public Sector

A.36.   Retaining a large public sector in Maidstone will not address the productivity
        wage gap in Maidstone, however, it will continue to provide valuable
        employment. Moreover, high quality public services is a fundamental part of
        the vision to create a 21st century county town, which will attract knowledge
        workers.

A.37.   Housing and population growth related to Growth Point status is likely to
        create additional jobs in the public sector with new schools, health services
        and education provision. However, it also provides the opportunity for the
        Council to develop innovative public services to serve the enlarged
        population. People considering living in Maidstone want to know their children
        will be well served by local schools, their health needs will be met, and they
        will have ready access to cultural and leisure facilities. This involves putting
        services in place in advance, or as soon as new housing is occupied. This has
        implications for both capital investment and revenue support for services.

A.38.   The urban extension will require new social infrastructure – schools,
        healthcare, leisure and recreation facilities – which, if planned to high
        standards, could act as a major draw to the area for knowledge workers and
        also stimulate innovation.



         Recommended Actions

            13. Identify and promote opportunities for new high quality public services to
                support regeneration in the borough.




                                                 - 63 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Tourism and the Olympics

A.39.   The council is currently in the process of preparing a Tourism Strategy for
        the borough, due for completion shortly. Therefore, we have not undertaken
        an assessment of the tourism sector as part of this research. However, there
        are clearly important links between the two reports. Many of the factors
        which make Maidstone attractive to investors are also those which make it
        attractive to tourists.

A.40.   In our view, the tourism strategy should focus on:
                   integrating Leeds Castle more within the Maidstone tourism offer –
                   providing more incentives for those visiting the Castle to also visit the
                   town;
                   developing the town centre as a tourism destination by exploiting the
                   river, improving the cultural and leisure offer and attracting more
                   events such as the Radio One Roadshow; and
                   exploiting the trend towards „ecotourism‟ and promoting rural parts of
                   the borough as tourism destinations.46

A.41.   We were asked specifically to consider the opportunities for Maidstone
        presented by the London 2012 Olympics. The legacy of the Games was
        central to London‟s successful bid. There is little doubt that, as the host city,
        the Games offers London a number of unique opportunities. What is less
        clear are the benefits of hosting the games, and the legacy effects for other
        UK regions. SEEDA is responsible for taking forward the legacy in the South
        East, in terms of both the tourism and business opportunities. It has set up
        the South East Partnership for the 2012 Games and six subgroups to explore
        opportunities around:

                   the visitor economy – led by Tourism South East. Current estimates
                   are that 50-75% of the net benefits of staging the Games will accrue
                   through tourism across the UK;
                   business and inward investment – led by SEEDA. A „business dating
                   agency‟ called CompeteFor to encourage South East companies to bid
                   for contracts related to the Games;
                   culture and communities – led by Arts Council England South East and
                   GO South East focusing on how the South East will benefit from the
                   four year Cultural Olympiad programme;
                   sport - led by Sport England South East, focusing on encouraging
                   participation in sport;
                   transport and infrastructure – led by SEERA, preparing the region for
                   the influx of people and ensuring longer term benefits for residents;
                   and
                   education, skills and employment – led by South East LSC,
                   encouraging young people to develop their employability and business
                   skills.




        46
             Kent Rural Delivery Framework 2007
                                                    - 64 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
A.42.   Thus far, it is unclear how Maidstone can benefit from the Olympics. We
        remain unconvinced that it will have a major long term impact on the
        Maidstone economy. In the short term, Leeds Castle and possibly Maidstone
        town centre may experience an increase in visitor numbers. There may also
        be opportunities for some companies (e.g. in the construction sector) to bid
        for smaller contracts related to the Games. However, in our view, Maidstone
        Council should not devote significant resources to pursuing opportunities
        related to the Olympics. Instead, it should focus on raising awareness of the
        regional (and national) activities being funded by SEEDA in the six areas
        above.


         Recommended Actions

            14. Implement the main proposals in the Tourism Strategy.
            15. Engage with regional Olympics programmes to capture the benefits for
                local people and businesses in Maidstone.




                                               - 65 -               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
B.     Creating a More Innovative and Entrepreneurial
       Economy
B.1.   Over the next twenty years, Maidstone needs a healthy       Objective 6:
       level of business investment, from existing companies       Support the growth
       expanding their operations, new entrepreneurs setting       of start-ups and
       up in business for the first time, and from inward          foster innovation
       investment into the area. Many of these businesses will
       thrive with very little support required from the public    Other objectives
       sector. However, in some cases, public sector business      supported:
       support can provide a helping hand to enable
       entrepreneurs to fulfil their potential and for existing    Objective 1:
                                                                   Strengthen the town
       businesses to be more innovative.
                                                                   centre
B.2.   The Government has recognised that the plethora of
                                                                   Objective 3:
       schemes available is confusing and businesses do not
                                                                   Developing sector
       always know where to go for help. The Business              specialisms
       Support Simplification Programme seeks to reduce the
       number of schemes in England from around 3,000 to           Objective 5:
       100 by 2010, creating a more integrated offer. The          Expand the HE
       same principles should apply to business support in         sector
       Maidstone. The following section of the report
       considers:

             Business Link – core Business Link support activities in Kent;
             Enterprise - building on the current rates of entrepreneurship; and
             Innovation – developing R&D and knowledge trasfer capacity.


       Business Link

B.3.   As part of the Government‟s business support simplification agenda, RDAs
       have been given greater responsibility for co-ordinating and procuring
       business support, including creating a single „single brokerage service‟. The
       core Business Link offer has evolved into an impartial IDB (Information,
       Diagnosis and Brokerage) service, designed to support the development of
       small and medium-sized businesses. IDB Support is provided through
       relevant up-to-date information, a diagnosis service, and brokering
       businesses to the most appropriate sources of specialist support available.

       The IDB Model

B.4.   The Information, Diagnosis and Brokerage (IDB) service is described by
       Business Link as an „impartial and innovative‟ service designed to support the
       growth of SMEs by analysing their particular needs. The model provides
       businesses with relevant and up-to-date information, enabling the
       diagnosis of their needs (if appropriate), before acting as a broker and
       directing businesses to the most appropriate sources of specialist support.
       Under the new model, Business Link then continues to monitor clients‟


                                             - 66 -               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
       ongoing needs. If they have further requirements, the process will begin
       again as illustrated below.


                                           Information

              Review & maintain
              relationships


                                                                        Diagnosis
                                                               • Facilitated One-to-one

                                           Intensive
          Broker     • Public funded        Support
          Services   • Supplier Matching    Services
                       Service (SMS)




                                                          Business
                                                          Improvement
                        Forecast GVA
                                                          Action Plan
                        Improvement
                                                          (BIAP)
                                                         • Structured & holistic




B.5.   In order to perform this role of bringing „buyers‟ and „sellers‟ together and
       facilitating transactions, Business Link relies on the ongoing support of a
       range of strategic partners in the public, private, academic and
       voluntary/community sectors. Strategic partners include funding bodies,
       organisations such as Local Authorities and Economic Partnerships, as well as
       publicly-funded delivery organisations like the Manufacturing Advisory
       Service (MAS), Enterprise Hubs and Gateways, and colleges/universities. By
       working closely with the organisations that deliver these publicly-funded
       services Business Link can simplify the market for their customers, improve
       the overall economic growth of the region and achieve their respective
       organisational objectives.

B.6.   Business Link also depends on the supply of business support services from
       delivery partners. Delivery partners include business service providers,
       representative organisations, trade associations and business clubs. By
       working closely with these organisations, Business Link hope to encourage
       more people to exploit the available support, improve the impact of collective
       services and reduce the potential for confusion.

B.7.   Overall, this new model is viewed to have a number of benefits. Firstly, as
       Business Link is a non-competitive gateway to business information and
       advice, the service works with advice providers rather than competing with
       them. In seeking to work with others, Business Link hopes to be able to
       encourage more people to see business improvement as a positive thing, and
       drive up demand for partners‟ services.

       Business Link in Kent

B.8.   In the South East, a consortium of six Business Link providers has been
       established to implement the new single regional service. The area team in
       Kent has a number of specific objectives:



                                                              - 67 -                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              delivery of information, advice and support to new and mature
              businesses;

              creating an enterprise culture and supporting new business start-ups;

              regional lead for key innovation and growth areas, in addition to
              access to regional partners and partnering universities in Canterbury
              and Medway, and the Sittingbourne and Medway Innovation hubs;

              supporting key regional sectors;

              regional lead on engaging the business community in opportunities
              arising from the London 2012 Olympics;

              regional lead on EU funding applications and programme delivery for
              Innovation, Sustainability and Economic Regeneration;

              shareholder of Skills South East – which delivers of Train to Gain
              Brokerage in the TGK area – and a partner in the Local Skills
              Productivity Alliance. BLK also operates the Regional Resource Centre
              for Environmental Technology Skills.

B.9.    A dedicated area delivery team and network managers provide regular
        business advice clinics, specialist regional workshops and other support
        services.

        Business Link in Maidstone

B.10.   Maidstone Borough Council has developed a good working relationship with
        Business Link, hosting some of the business advice clinics and disseminating
        information about Business Link services.

B.11.   According to Business Link, demand for business support services in
        Maidstone reflects the nature of the local economy. Up until February 2008,
        Business Link had worked on an 'intensive' basis with 167 Maidstone
        businesses and anticipated finishing the financial year at around 225. They
        had „touched‟ (provided some form of information service or workshop)
        around 1600 businesses in total. Comparatively, Business Link expects to
        have assisted 2500 businesses in Kent „intensively‟ and „touched‟ 25,000 by
        the end of this financial year.

B.12.   The Council needs to ensure that businesses in Maidstone maintain the
        current demand for business support services, and look to increase demand
        in the future. This is particularly important as the presence of Business Link
        in an area depends very much on demand – rather than dividing services
        strictly by each locality – and will increase as demand rises. According to
        Business Link, the support providers are always looking to increase their
        presence in all areas and to identify area specific needs.

B.13.   Maidstone Borough Council, as a key strategic partner, can help to ensure
        local businesses are more aware of Business Link services, and that the
        organisation is tailoring services to the needs of the local area. Thus it will be
        important to agree a programme of activity related to the Maidstone
        economy with Business Link, flowing from the key sectors identified in this
        report.

                                                 - 68 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Enterprise

B.14.   As outlined in the State of the Economy section, Maidstone has an
        entrepreneurial economy, recording strong growth in the number of VAT
        registered businesses and a high rate of self employment. Business Link
        undertakes a number of different activities to support enterprise:

              pre-start outreach capacity building programme;
              networking with community groups;
              introduction of innovative support processes (Trading-Up programme)
              to pre-starts based on a successful EU funded pilot developed by BLK;
              joint programmes to support Enterprise in Schools;
              local delivery of regional start-up service; and
              local support to early stage enterprises (<2 years).

B.15.   There are also a number of regional programmes to support enterprise led by
        SEEDA including:

B.16.   Enterprise Hubs are SEEDA-backed networks with a physical presence in
        centres across the South East which help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to
        market. Sittingbourne is the closest „Hub‟ to Maidstone.

B.17.   The Accelerator Fund - a £10 million loan fund run by Finance South East and
        supported by SEEDA and Business Link. It provides loans of £25,000-
        £100,000 to small to medium sized enterprises which have the potential for
        significant growth.

        Supporting Enterprise in Maidstone

B.18.   Looking forward, the Council needs to ensure that entrepreneurs are fully
        aware, and able to exploit the activities of Business Link designed to foster
        enterprise. It should also support the actions of partners to promote an
        entrepreneurial culture. For example, members of the Professional Hub would
        be keen to get involved with promoting an enterprise culture in schools.

B.19.   Perhaps the biggest need identified by stakeholders to support enterprise is
        physical accommodation – managed workspace for start ups. This was
        mentioned on numerous occasions in discussions with stakeholders. UCCA in
        particular suggests that its graduates would benefit from a supportive
        environment where they could develop their business ideas. The university is
        looking to expand its knowledge transfer capacity and needs accommodation
        to do so.

B.20.   The creation of a Maidstone Enterprise Centre, with a particular focus on
        the creative industries warrants further investigation. Such a centre could
        comprise the following:

              Serviced    offices:        workspace     offering     high   quality   IT
              services/connectivity.

              Easy-in, easy-out office space: short term licensing agreements
              allowing offices to be hired for as long as needed, but with the option
              to move out quickly if necessary.
                                               - 69 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
               Virtual Office & Front Desk: Professional telephone answering
               service and reputable postal address.

               Meeting Rooms and event space: Catered meeting and conference
               facilities to support Business Link events (including networking) and
               designated exhibition space.

               Exhibition space – showcasing local creative arts and UCCA projects.

B.21.   If linked to the university, the centre would help to develop knowledge
        transfer capacity, supporting R&D and innovation. It would also help to retain
        graduates in the area.

B.22.   In our view, the Centre would benefit from a town centre location.
        Opportunities could be explored to comprehensively upgrade one of the
        existing secondary office blocks. Visibility in the town centre could make it a
        single port of call for those firms needing business assistance in Maidstone.
        In doing so it would promote and raise the profile of Business Link and
        SEEDA support activities to ensure that more Maidstone companies benefit
        from regional programmes.

B.23.   It would also provide a further venue to showcase local talent reinforcing the
        recent Art at the Centre Maidstone project, which is looking to develop an
        artist quarter in the town centre.

B.24.   Clearly, initial feasibility work and business planning would be needed to test
        the viability of the scheme and to consider sources of funding. There are
        opportunities in teaming up with private sector providers such as Basepoint,
        who have successful Business Centres in operation across the South East and
        surrounding regions. These centres are owned outright by Basepoint (often in
        partnership with local authorities or RDAs) or managed on behalf of third
        parties. In 2004 Basepoint was nominated as a preferred partner with SEEDA
        to develop and operate up to 20 additional business centres over the next
        sixteen years. Kent is home to only two Basepoint centres; one is a
        refurbished Grade II listed building in Northfleet, and the other is in
        Folkstone.

B.25.   Elsewhere in the country, the Kirklees Media Centre is a good example of a
        successful and sustainable Enterprise Centre that focuses on the media and
        creative industries (see below).

        CASE STUDY: Kirklees Media Centre

        The award winning Kirklees Media Centre was set up in 1995 by Kirklees Metropolitan Council
        as a high quality managed workspace designed to counter the decline in manufacturing and
        support the growth of a new sector. The centre provides a home to a thriving community of
        digital, media and creative enterprises. The centre has developed over time from one building
        in 1995, to two in 2002 and three by 2007. Along with business and IT support, a creative
        programme of events, café Ollo and meeting/conference rooms, the centre now boasts 121
        office spaces, 21 live-work studios and Virtual Offices for over 120 companies and 300 people.

        With support from the RDA, the Media Centre has developed a number of different revenue
        streams and is now fully sustainable. As well as managing offices elsewhere in the sub-region,
        the company is also involved in product development, helping to commercialise IPR. In
        addition, it is hoping to launch a subscription based networking service targeted at companies
        in similar digital media centres elsewhere in the region.




                                                      - 70 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Innovation

B.26.   As described in the Section 3 of this report, levels of innovation in Maidstone
        are weak – there are relatively few annual patent applications and a low
        proportion of people employed in innovation enabling businesses. The recent
        white paper Innovation Nation reinforced the importance of innovation to UK
        economic growth. A number of policies were proposed to develop innovation
        nationally:

              A new initiative to provide at least 1,000 „innovation vouchers‟ every
              year by 2011 to help support and fund SMEs to work with a university,
              further education college or research organisation to develop a new
              product or service;

              Piloting a new Specialisation and Innovation Fund to boost the capacity
              of further education colleges to unlock workforce talent and to support
              businesses in raising innovation potential; and

              Doubling the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships between
              businesses, universities and colleges;

B.27.   Promoting innovation is a key activity of SEEDA and its sister organisations.
        Business Link in Kent is the regional lead in operating the European
        Information and Innovation Relay Centre for the South East, and has local
        access to regional programmes and the innovation advisory services for
        design and manufacturing.

B.28.   Business Link Kent is also in partnership with the Universities at Canterbury,
        Medway and the Sittingbourne and Medway Innovation Hubs to support
        technology transfer and closer working between the academic and business
        communities.

B.29.   Many of the innovation activities in the region are targeted around particular
        sectors. BLK has involvement in partnerships or consortia for developing
        innovation in the sustainable construction, creative and tourism sectors. BLK
        is also the lead partner in Kent Sustainable Business Partnership. In addition,
        SEEDA has the following Sector Consortia:

              Creative Sector (South East Media Network)
              Marine (Marine South East)
              Environmental Technologies (Envirobusiness)
              Tourism & Hospitality (Tourism South East)

        Developing Maidstone‟s innovative capacity

B.30.   In order to enhance levels of innovation in Maidstone, the Council should
        ensure that it promotes the regional innovation support services offered by
        SEEDA and its sister organisations. In particular, it should promote those
        support services targeted at sectors where Maidstone has a particular
        strength.

                                               - 71 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
B.31.   In addition, the Council should support UCCA and Mid Kent College in their
        ambitions to expand higher education and knowledge transfer/R&D capacity.



         Recommended Actions

         16. Explore the feasibility of a Maidstone Enterprise Centre – serviced small business
             premises – with a possible focus on creative/media companies.
         17. Engage with Business Link to agree a programme of activity relevant to the
             Maidstone economy.
         18.   Support UCCA and Mid Kent College to develop knowledge transfer capabilities.
         19. Develop stronger mechanisms for promoting regional innovation support
             services locally.




                                                  - 72 -               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
C.     Attracting and Retaining Investment
C.1.   Attracting and retaining investment in Maidstone will
                                                                   Objective 3:
       be critical to future economic performance. As global
                                                                   Develop sector
       and national competition for investment intensifies, the
                                                                   specialisms
       borough needs a distinctive offer to investors which it
       can promote with partners. This chapter considers the       Objective 2:
       inward investment track record in Kent and, more            Ensure a pipeline of
       specifically Maidstone, and how to strengthen the           high quality sites.
       position in the future.

       Inward Investment in Kent

C.2.   Locate in Kent (LiK) is the Investment Promotion Agency for Kent and
       Medway. LiK has been a private limited company since 1997, its remit is to:

             raise the profile of Kent and Medway as a location for businesses;
             attract companies and quality jobs to the county; and
             to support existing companies looking to expand.

C.3.   The company is a not-for-profit organisation, half funded by Kent County
       Council and half by private contracts with different public and private sector
       clients. The company offers a free, confidential relocation service, including
       information about sites and premises in Kent and Medway, location-specific
       research, local knowledge and specialist contacts. LiK also provide advice on
       any available grants or financial assistance and provide an aftercare service
       to all Kent and Medway based companies, assisting them in their growth and
       development. Moreover, LiK plays a key business retention role, through
       support services and marketing activities.

C.4.   Historically, Kent was poorly perceived as an investment location. Locate in
       Kent research from 2003 illustrated that this was often because investors
       considered Kent to be somewhat remote, agricultural and fell under the
       stigma of being an expensive „south east‟ location. In 2003-4, LiK launched a
       campaign to change perceptions. In 2003 52% of respondents felt Kent was
       a good or very good business location, but by 2006 this had risen to 80%.

C.5.   Kent‟s offer as a competitive inward investment location is improving rapidly.
       The massive regeneration plans across the county and the access to London
       and Europe offered by CTRL, are enhancing Kent‟s status as one of Europe‟s
       most dynamic business locations. Although situated in the South East and
       close to London, Kent is a also a very cost effective location – property can
       be up to 60% cheaper in some sectors when compared to London.

C.6.   According to LiK‟s records, since 1997 it has assisted 470 companies, created
       20,306 jobs, and supported the retention of 8,620 jobs. The Agency has
       county wide targets and seeks to attract investors Kent-wide. However, it
       also has area-specific targets where it enters into a contract with clients such
       as the Thames Gateway.




                                              - 73 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
       The inward investment track record in Maidstone

C.7.   Locate in Kent‟s most recent figures show that it assisted (referred to as
       „successes‟) 60 companies in Maidstone since 1997, an average of
       approximately six a year. These successes have resulted in the creation of
       1450 jobs in Maidstone and the retention of a further 657. The graph below
       suggests that the Maidstone inward investment market has largely mirrored
       trends in Kent.

       Kent & Medway and Maidstone Successes 1997 – January 2008
                                80
                                                                                                                     6.4.
                                                                                                                      25

                                70                         Kent        Maidstone

                                                                                                                      20




                                                                                                                           Number Maidstone Successes
                                60
        Number Kent Successes




                                50
                                                                                                                      15

                                40

                                                                                                                      10
                                30

                                20
                                                                                                                      5
                                10

                                0                                                                                     0
                                     1997-8 1998-9 1999-0 2000-1 2001-2 2002-3 2003-4 2004-5 2005-6 2006-7 2007-8
                                                                                                             (to
                                                                                                            Jan)

C.8.   Maidstone performs well relative to the rest of Kent comprising 12.8% of all
       successes. Over the last 10 years, Maidstone has consistently been one of
       the most popular locations in Kent behind Tonbridge and Malling. However,
       average investments are generally smaller than Kent and Medway averages.
       This is reflected in the number of jobs created and retained in the borough,
       shown in the table below. With regards to job creation figures, Maidstone
       falls behind Tonbridge & Malling, Dartford, Thanet, Medway and Swale. The
       borough also ranks similarly (7th out of 13) when looking at the number of
       jobs retained.

       Successes and Jobs Created and Retained 1997-Dec 2007

                                     Successes                               Jobs Created                         Jobs Retained
       Tonbridge & Malling                            95          Tonbridge & Malling        4232      Dartford                                         1627
       Maidstone                                      60          Dartford                   3774      Tonbridge & Malling                              1546
       Medway                                         51          Thanet                     2965      Medway                                           1406
       Ashford                                        43          Medway                     2934      Ashford                                           877
       Swale                                          42          Swale                      1493      Dover                                             672
       Dartford                                       39          Maidstone                  1450      Swale                                             659
       Thanet                                         34          Ashford                    1422      Maidstone                                         657
       Sevenoaks                                      29          Sevenoaks                      649   Gravesham                                         392
       Canterbury                                     24          Tunbridge Wells                402   Thanet                                            355
       Dover                                          22          Dover                          336   Shepway                                           169
       Tunbridge Wells                                13          Canterbury                     290   Sevenoaks                                         138
       Shepway                                        12          Shepway                        181   Canterbury                                        86
       Gravesham                                       6          Gravesham                      178   Tunbridge Wells                                   36
       Total                                          470                                   20,306                                                      8,620


                                                                                        - 74 -                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
C.9.     Research conducted by LiK in June 2005 examining the perceptions of
         businesses in Kent, suggests Maidstone is highly regarded. Maidstone was
         ranked as the top business location by 56% of respondents, with Ashford
         second. Investors consider Maidstone to be a well established location for
         business, with good strategic connectivity. The area is also considered to
         offer good support services, such as legal, finance, accounting and other
         professional services.

C.10.    However, Maidstone is still widely perceived as suffering from major traffic
         congestion around the town centre and having poor connectivity by train.
         The latter is thought to deter investment by national and international
         companies, largely restricting Maidstone to offering attractive inward
         investment opportunities to companies operating predominately in Kent. The
         borough is also viewed as more expensive than similar locations in the
         county.

C.11.    Locate in Kent‟s data shows that Maidstone received the greatest overall
         interest from new projects in January 2008.

        Number of Active Projects, Jobs Created and Retained and Industrial/Office Demand
        (Jan 2008) by District
                                             Potential     Potential
                                                                       Industrial    Office
                                 Projects      Jobs          Jobs
                                                                        Demand      Demand
                                             Created       Retained
          Maidstone                91         4991          1878          49          34
          Medway                   80         4664          1832          48          21
          Tonbridge & Malling      74         4362          1816          38          26
          Thanet                   68         6278          1571          45          14
          Dartford                 62         3747          1321          38          12
          Swale                    62         3678          1665          37          14
          Ashford                  57         5961          1900          26          15
          Gravesham                57         3512          1135          35          13
          Canterbury               55         3650          1031          31          18
          Sevenoaks                51         3416          1228          30          12
          Dover                    47         4919          1491          24          11
          Tunbridge Wells          47         4066          1108          28          14
          Shepway                  32         2878           881          17           5



C.12.    The difference between the level of interest, and actual successes supports
         the argument that a lack of quality sites and premises may be stifling the
         inward investment market.

         Attracting and retaining investment in Maidstone

C.13.    In our view, there are opportunities for Maidstone to attract more inward
         investment into the borough. However, it must strengthen its offer before
         embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign.

C.14.    There is no shortage of secondary office stock in the town centre and sites
         are available to develop grade A space. Yet, as noted in Section A, the
         shortage of high quality, marketable sites and premises is a major constraint
         to growth. Locate in Kent report a lot of interest in Maidstone from investors

                                                  - 75 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        but a lack of quality sites to promote. Only around 2% of the companies LiK
        have attracted to the county have built their own offices. Therefore, a steady
        supply of quality office and industrial premises is needed in order for
        Maidstone to turn more enquiries into successes. If Maidstone is to fulfil its
        aspirations for growth it will need strong political commitment to bring about
        this change.

C.15.   The Council faces the additional challenge of providing car parking facilities
        for town centre office development. This conflicts with the need to tackle
        congestion and improve air quality. A Transport Strategy is needed to find
        the right balance.

C.16.   In addition to increasing the stock of quality office space – particularly space
        with parking facilities – LiK recommend that the council ensure that there is a
        strategic focus on certain sectors and a commensurate property offer. LiK
        suggest that Maidstone‟s strengths lie in the creative and media sector,
        and in business and professional services.

C.17.   Maidstone needs to work with LiK to develop a clear offer that targets the
        sectors identified in this report, particularly those where LiK has identified
        strong demand – notably the creative and media sector (or more specifically
        „media production‟) and business and professional services.

C.18.   When a clear offer exists, including a supply of high quality sites for the key
        sectors – it would be advantageous for Maidstone Borough Council to enter
        into a contract with Locate in Kent. This would set clearly defined Maidstone-
        specific targets and outputs for investment successes, job creation and job
        retention in the borough. At present, it could be argued that Maidstone is not
        at the top of LIK‟s priority list given its contracts with other areas. Locate in
        Kent‟s most recent marketing material focuses on Ebbsfleet and Ashford.
        Equally, Locate in Kent might argue they do not know what the offer is to
        promote in Maidstone.

C.19.   This offer could be promoted in the form of a Maidstone prospectus of sites
        and through the „Locate in Maidstone‟ website managed by the Council.

C.20.   In terms of business retention, the Council should identify the top 10 or 20
        businesses vital to the future of the Maidstone economy, and with Locate in
        Kent, develop a relationship with these businesses. This will ensure that the
        Council can mobilise county and regional business retention services should a
        company be considering leaving the area.


         Recommended Actions

            20. Identify a portfolio of premises to support investment in key sectors, and
                ensure a long term pipeline of sites (see also key sectors actions)
            21. Clearly define Maidstone‟s offer in relation to LIK activities and prepare a
                prospectus as more sites come forward.
            22. Identify the top 20 businesses for business retention and, with LiK, develop
                stronger client relationships.




                                                  - 76 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
D.     Developing a Culture of Lifelong Learning
D.1.   Education and skills is a critical driver of
                                                                                           Objective 4:
       competitiveness and productivity. HM Treasury‟s
                                                                                           Embed a culture of
       analysis of the drivers for productivity shows that
                                                                                           lifelong learning.
       workforce skill levels have a positive impact on labour
       productivity.                                                                       Objective 2:
                                                                                           Support the
D.2.   Entrepreneurial and managerial ability is particularly                              expansion of the
       important to improving productivity and growth. Also,                               HE sector.
       firms with highly skilled employees and experienced
       managers are more likely to invest in physical capital                              Other objectives
       and introduce new technologies and innovations to                                   supported:
       their business47.
                                                                                           Objective 6:
                                                                                           Support the growth
       National Policy Context                                                             of start-ups and
                                                                                           foster innovation.
D.3.   The Leitch Review of Skills published in December
       2006 sets out a clear vision for the UK highlighting the
       need to urgently raise achievements at all levels of skills and commit to
       becoming a world leader in skills by 2020. This will mean doubling
       attainment at all levels of skills and securing a joint commitment from
       Government agencies, employers and individuals48.

D.4.   The Review makes the case for investment in skills in the UK in order for the
       country to compete for high value-added industries in the face of competition
       from other Western countries and emerging economies such as China and
       India. It argues that the UK needs to „raise its game‟ firstly, to meet future
       demand for skills, and secondly to prevent the marginalisation of some
       groups in the labour market.

D.5.   Following publication of the SNR, the Government also published „World Class
       Skills‟, its response to the Leitch Review, and the Leitch Implementation Plan
       builds firmly on these changes. The plan recognises the scale of the
       challenge inherent in Leitch‟s ambitious proposals for skills attainment by
       2020 – and sets out some intermediate targets for basic, intermediate and
       higher level skills for 2011 and 2014.

D.6.   The Implementation Plan sets out the Government‟s commitment to
       significantly   increasing  investment     in   employer-focused     training
       programmes. Public investment in Train to Gain will more than double from
       £440 million in 2007/8 to over £900 million by 2010/11 – and the principle of
       demand-led funding will be extended across the employment and skills
       system.

D.7.   The Leitch Review states that a key objective should be for all individuals to
       have a greater awareness of the value of skills development and have easier
       access to the opportunities available. Workless people will have a better




       47
            HM Treasury, Productivity in the UK: The Evidence and the Government‟s Approach (2000)
       48
            The Leitch Review of Skills: Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills, December 2006

                                                               - 77 -                      SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        chance to find a job through effective diagnosis of their skills needs and
        greater support as they make the transition into sustainable work.

D.8.    Individuals will have more chances to gain a full Level 2 qualification and
        basic skills in the workplace through Train to Gain. Employers will have more
        influence over skills strategy within a simplified system, greater incentives to
        invest in skills across all levels; advice through expanded skills brokerage
        and increased assistance for workplace training.

D.9.    In seeking to raise levels of skills and education there are a number of
        specific dimensions that need to be considered. Firstly, the formal education
        and training system has an important role to play in providing the right
        opportunities through schools, colleges and universities. Secondly, employers
        through investing in training and workforce development have a key role to
        play in securing skills for productivity growth and enhancement. Finally,
        individuals have a role to play in taking responsibility for their own lifelong
        learning and development.

D.10.   For many, the initial experience of the compulsory education system is a key
        determinant of their future attainment and ongoing commitment to lifelong
        learning. Vocational skills are also important, particularly for individuals not
        predisposed to more academic qualifications.

D.11.   The role of employers, through investment in workforce development and
        training and the provision of job specific skills, is critical to future
        competitiveness. Some employers, particularly SMEs, give lower priority to
        investing in workforce development than is perhaps required. This is in part
        due to the costs involved in terms of both financial outlay but also lost staff
        time. There is also a concern that skilled employees are more likely to be
        attractive in the broader labour market and therefore demand higher rates of
        return, or be „poached‟ by competitors.

        Future Developments

D.12.   While skills and education is clearly recognised as a critical determinant of
        competitiveness, it is an area of public policy that is subject to considerable
        change and uncertainty. The UK Government continues to invest significant
        resources in education, training and skills development, and with this comes
        an element of upheaval.

D.13.   A number of future developments, emerging in response to the Leitch
        Review, have already been described above. In addition, significant reforms
        to the delivery of adult and young people‟s skills were announced in March
        2008. Under these proposals the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will be
        dissolved and £7 billion worth of resources will be transferred to local
        authorities. In addition £4 billion a year will be channelled through a new
        agency to provide training and skills for adults with the objective of
        transforming the current system to be responsive and demand led.

D.14.   While the impact of this will be felt most acutely by Kent County Council, as
        the Local Education Authority, there are important implications for Maidstone
        and the Borough Council‟s economic objectives. For 14-19 year olds the new
        system will allow the responsible local authorities to commission provision to
        meet demand from young people and employers. Similarly, the new Skills
        Funding Agency will fund FE Colleges and other providers to meet the
                                               - 78 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        demands of employers and learners. Maidstone needs to ensure that the
        needs of residents and employers across the borough are fully reflected in
        these new arrangements.

D.15.   Also of relevance is the current Department for Innovation, University and
        Skills (DIUS) consultation inviting proposals from towns and cities for new
        university campuses and centres of higher education49. The consultation
        recognises that new high education facilities can „unlock the potential of
        towns and people by driving economic regeneration‟ and that a good range of
        local higher education provision is essential „to ensure that we do not waste
        the talent of many individuals‟.

D.16.   The consultation identifies a number of ways in which higher education
        provision can unlock the potential of towns and people and also where
        provision can drive economic growth, these are summarised in the following
        table:

6.5.    Unlocking      potential      of       6.6.
                                           towns and Driving economic growth
        people

6.7.                                  6.11.
        Widening participation and unlocking Creating and retaining a highly skilled
        talent                                workforce with relevant skills for the
                                              local business community
6.8.    Attracting and retaining talent in an
        area                          6.12. Job creation and economic growth

6.9.                                 6.13.
        Contributing to community well being Stimulating entrepreneurship

6.10.                                6.14.
        Responding to population growth                     Engagement with local businesses to
                                                            solve    problems   and    improve
                                                            competitiveness



D.17.   Recognising the range of benefits that higher education provision can bring
        the new „University Challenge‟ the Government has asked the Higher
        Education Funding Council for England (HEFECE) „to develop a transparent
        mechanism for communities to put together a bid for funds for a higher
        education centre or university campus‟.


        Education and Skills Provision in Maidstone

D.18.   There are 15 secondary schools, 23 primary schools and 2 special schools in
        Maidstone. In addition to places at school six-forms in the area, Mid-Kent
        College is the primary local FE provider. The University College for the
        Creative Arts (UCCA) offers predominantly Higher Education (HE) courses,
        but also provides a significant proportion of FE education in the area.

D.19.   Mid Kent College is spread over four campuses in Rochester, Chatham and
        Maidstone. Provision is across all 14 Areas of Learning with progression


        49
           Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, A New „University Challenge‟: Unlocking Britain‟s
        Talent, March 2008

                                                           - 79 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        routes from Level 1 through to Level 3 in most areas. Access to Higher
        Education (HE) and Level 4 courses are provided at the college and in
        partnership with the University of Kent.

D.20.   At present, there are around 750 students at the UCCA Maidstone campus –
        180 undertaking FE courses, the rest HE. In total, across its other campuses,
        UCCA has over 6000 students. Traditionally, the university has specialised in
        media, moving images, photographics and introduced one of the first media
        courses nationally in the 1960s. It also has a tradition of print making,
        illustration and graphics.

        Participation

D.21.   Data from the Learning & Skills Assessment for Maidstone & Malling from
        2006 suggests that around 50% of 16-19 year olds are in some form of LSC
        funding in Maidstone and Tonbridge & Malling. This figure stands at 78% for
        16-18 year olds.

D.22.   Individual Learner Records (ILR) and PLASC provision side data for 14-18
        years old in Maidstone and Tonbridge & Malling shows that participation in
        School Sixth Forms has risen year on year since 2002, while FE education
        has remained fairly static between 2002 and 2004, although it dips slightly
        between 2004 and 2005. However, this data does not include participation
        on FE courses at UCCA.

D.23.   According to data collected from 16-18 years old forum learners from
        Maidstone & Malling in the Learning & Skills Assessment for Maidstone &
        Malling report, the vast majority (86%) attending school sixth forms, do so
        locally.

D.24.   Participation in Further Education colleges has decreased marginally since
        2002. Mid-Kent college has the greatest share of 14-18 year old learners at
        71%. 23% travelled outside of the Maidstone & Malling area in 2004/2005 –
        9% went to West Kent college and 4% to Harlow. 6% go outside of the Kent
        and Medway area for FE provision.

        School Performance

D.25.   According to 2007 data from the Department for Children, Schools & Families
        (DCSF) overall performance of schools (when looking at the proportion
        achieving any passes at GCSE) at the Maidstone District level has risen over
        the last ten years. A larger proportion of children in Maidstone than Kent,
        the South East and England as a whole, achieve 5 or more A*-C grades.
        68.4% attained this level of qualification, up from 53.1% in 1997. Figures
        for Kent and England stand at 64.9% and 62.0% respectively.

D.26.   Looking at the attainment of 11 and 14 years old, Maidstone district schools
        perform relatively poorly. In 2006, numeracy levels for 11 year olds were
        lower than the county, regional and national averages. Literacy levels remain
        on par with averages for the country, below the South East average but
        above the Kent figure.

D.27.   At 14, the proportion of children achieving level 5 and above stands at 70%
        in English and 76% in Maths – level or below county, regional and country

                                              - 80 -             SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        averages. The proportion attaining this level in English has fallen since 1997
        by 4 percentage points.

        Educational attainment of residents in the borough

D.28.   With the exception of NVQ level 4 and above, qualifications as a proportion of
        the working age population are lower in Maidstone than the South East.
        However, these figures are higher than the Great British average.

D.29.   The most recent ONS Annual Population data shows that Maidstone has a
        smaller proportion of residents with A level or Advanced Vocational
        Qualifications than the South East and Great Britain.        Furthermore,
        Maidstone has a smaller proportion of young people entered for science A
        levels and a smaller proportion achieving A grades in these subjects (See
        SOE report, p.68-69, charts 33-34.)

D.30.   Maidstone has proportionately 2,700 more residents educated to degree level
        or above than the South east or Great Britain, with almost 35% being
        educated to this level. However, with relatively few skilled jobs in the area, a
        large proportion are assumed to commute out of the area for work.

D.31.   The Kent County Council Supporting Independence Programme area profile
        for Maidstone highlights High Street, Park Wood, Shepway North and
        Shepway South as those wards with the highest proportion of NEETs.
        Almost one in four (24.1%) 16 to 18 year olds in Park Wood were NEET in
        April 2006, ranking as the third most deprived of all Kent County Council‟s
        283 wards.


        Priorities for Maidstone

D.32.   In light of the above analysis there are a number of clear education and skills
        priorities for Maidstone.

D.33.   As the quality and application of human capital is a key determinant of
        productivity growth, Maidstone needs to actively encourage local employers
        to prioritise workforce development and training. This should include the
        promotion of Train to Gain, the Skills Pledge and the work of the Sector Skills
        Councils.

D.34.   While generally affluent, there are a number of pockets of disadvantage
        across the borough where levels of education, attainment and skills
        development are a matter for concern. In particular, in the Park Wood and
        High Street wards there are significant proportions of NEET (individuals Not
        In Employment, Education or Training).        While this has already been
        identified as a priority for the Community Strategy it is also an issue for the
        future economic success for the Borough.

D.35.   Maidstone‟s current range of primary and secondary provision is an economic
        asset for the Borough. This needs to be maintained and support should be
        given to the work currently underway to respond to the support cross
        institutional working to deliver the new Diplomas, to be fully operational by
        2013. In addition, the opportunities linked to the Building Schools for the
        Future programme, which will reach Maidstone in 2011 should also not be
        overlooked.

                                               - 81 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
D.36.   At present the lack of Higher Education (HE) institutes in the Maidstone
        economy provides a further barrier to productivity enhancement and
        economic growth. While a range of provision is available the expansion of
        both UCCA and Mid Kent College should be encouraged and further work
        should be undertaken with local employers to ensure that training is firmly
        based on employer needs.

D.37.   Consideration should also be given to the potential for a future bid for a new
        university campus, linked to the outcomes of the Government‟s consultation
        on the new „University Challenge‟. This should bring together existing and
        potential providers of higher education, residents and local employers.


          Recommended Actions

             23. Maximise the take up and impact of national skills programmes including:
                 Train to Gain, the Skills Pledge and other mainstream initiatives. Support
                 the work of the Local Education Authority and education providers in
                 preparing for the new Diploma.
             24. Ensure that actions to address NEETS in Shepway and Park Wood are fully
                 embedded in the Community Strategy.
             25. Maximise the regeneration benefits of the eventual roll out of the Building
                 Schools for the Future programme in Maidstone.
             26. Continue to work to expand higher education provision in the Borough and
                 seek to ensure the consolidation of both UCCA and Mid Kent College.
             27. Work with Kent County Council to support improvement in schools
                 performance at GCSE and A-level.




                                                  - 82 -               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
E.     Transport and Connectivity
E.1.   The importance of transport and connectivity to
                                                                     Objective 7: Invest
       economic competitiveness is well documented, and
                                                                     in a high quality
       was highlighted very clearly in the recent DfT/HM
                                                                     transport network.
       Treasury Eddington Transport Study. Eddington
       concluded that economic growth drives transport               Other objectives
       demand. This creates both opportunities and                   supported:
       challenges - including the impact on the environment.
       “Government and the private sector need to show               Objective 2:
       considerable foresight to deliver a transport system          Environmental
       capable of supporting the continued success of the UK         sustainability
       economy, able to continue to compete globally and             underpins public
       meeting its environmental challenges." 50                     sector investments.

E.2.   Maidstone needs a transport network that facilitates
       the free flow of goods, services and people. In terms of raw strategic
       connectivity, the borough is well served by strategic rail, road and sea
       connections. However, there are key strategic and local transport issues that
       stakeholders believe are constraining economic growth. Locate in Kent‟s
       research suggests that Maidstone is still widely perceived as suffering from
       significant traffic congestion around the town, while trains to London and
       elsewhere are relatively slow and infrequent. This contrasts with high speed
       passenger services serving other key locations in the region due to begin
       operation in November 2009.

E.3.   While the Economic Development Strategy is not intended to provide a
       comprehensive transport strategy for Maidstone, which should be prepared
       separately, it is important to highlight those transport investments that will
       support economic growth. In our view, investment in transport infrastructure
       is needed in three areas: i) to support the expansion of Maidstone town
       centre; ii) to improve access to Greater South East, national and
       international markets; and 3) to unlock key sites, particularly the urban
       extension.

       Town centre accessibility

E.4.   Improved access in, out, and around the town centre is absolutely critical for
       strengthening Maidstone‟s position as a retail and leisure destination, and to
       revitalise the office market. The priorities include: All Saints Link Road,
       improvements to the gyratory system, an enhanced Park and Ride,
       improvements to the Urban Traffic Management system, public transport
       improvements – particularly the bus network, and, longer term, a strategy
       for town centre parking.

       Access to GSE, national and international markets

E.5.   If the Maidstone economy is to play a bigger role in the South East, more of
       its companies need to be serving markets outside the borough. This means
       access to the strategic road and rail network is absolutely critical.


       50
            DfT/HM Treasury (2006) „The Eddington Transport Study‟

                                                            - 83 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
E.6.    The M20 forms the main link through the county and is part of the Trans
        European Network (TERN). It is a crucial link between London and the South
        West to Dover and Calais. At a regional level, the road network supports
        commerce, supply and distribution. It serves as a commuting route across
        the region, and is the main link for Freight offering access to the major ports
        in the UK. Locally, the M20 supports economic activity, providing a link for
        local communities to access local services such as health, education, retail
        and leisure. The Highways Agency has voiced concerns about capacity
        problems west of Maidstone and at junction 5 of the M2, which could have
        implications for the growth agenda unless rectified. MBC and KCC have
        identified the need for junction improvements around the M20 interchanges
        in Maidstone to improve accessibility to the network and to unlock sites
        adjacent to the motorway.

E.7.    Maidstone‟s strategic connectivity is also affected significantly by Operation
        Stack – the codename used by Kent Police to refer to the method of using
        selections of the M20 to park lorries in phases when the ports are blocked.
        This affects local traffic movements as well as strategic connectivity, which in
        turn affects local businesses and their workers, and acts as a deterrent to
        investors. A recent change to the phasing has exacerbated the impacts on
        Maidstone.

E.8.    Maidstone has three central rail stations – Maidstone West, Maidstone East
        and Maidstone Barracks providing important local links. However, rail
        connectivity outside the borough to London is weak in comparison to other
        competing areas in the South East. The table below shows that the journey
        time to the capital (65 minutes) is exceptionally poor given the actual
        distance.




E.9.    With High Speed 1 (HS1) connecting London to mainline Europe via Kent in
        2009, those parts of the county with HS1 stations will become increasingly
        attractive to business and professional service firms. Ebbsfleet in North West
        Kent will only be 17 minutes from St Pancras, while Ashford – further away
        from London in miles than Maidstone – will see rail journeys to London cut
        from 1 hour 23 minutes to 37 minutes.

E.10.   Southeastern is proposing some improvements to the Maidstone East line for
        December 2009. All of the Maidstone East line services will go to Victoria or
        Blackfriars and the Thameslink core. While this means the withdrawal of the
        inter peak Maidstone East, West Malling to London Bridge and Cannon Street

                                               - 84 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        service, it will aim to get more of the newer 375/377 trains to operate on the
        route and offer more eight car services at peak times. It is also seeking to
        ensure a consistent half hourly service from Maidstone West to Strood to
        offer good connections with the High Speed trains.

E.11.   However, overall journey times to London will remain unchanged. This is
        citied as a critical weakness by local businesses. The Council is currently
        lobbying Southeastern trains and DfT to improve journey times but there are
        significant barriers to overcome. Sadly these largely relate to a history of
        opposition to the mainline and high speed services. For example, when the
        railway lines were constructed in the 19th century the original Southeastern
        mainline was proposed to pass through Maidstone to Folkestone and Dover.
        This was successfully opposed by the MPs and landowners of Maidstone and
        the line was built via Tonbridge. By the time a direct line to Maidstone was
        built it followed a circuitous route to join up with other lines by then in
        existence.

E.12.   The original proposals for what is now High Speed 1 recognised the issues at
        Maidstone and proposed a station to serve Maidstone and Medway adjacent
        to the A229 on Bluebell Hill. This was opposed by Maidstone Borough Council
        and the local MPs. As a response to this opposition, the plans for the station
        were dropped and the idea of Ebbsfleet was created.

E.13.   Major capital investment is therefore required if journey times are to be cut,
        which in the short term seems unlikely. However, the Council should
        continue to make the case. Network Rail, which is responsible for long term
        rail infrastructure upgrades and is undertaking a Kent Rail Utilisation Study
        to assess the implications of economic growth for transport. This offers a
        further opportunity for Maidstone to put its case forward.

        Unlocking key sites

E.14.   The third component of transport investment needed to support economic
        growth are those infrastructure investments needed to unlock key sites and
        particularly the new urban extension. This primarily includes improvements
        to the M20 and the new South East Maidstone Strategic Link.

E.15.   The interventions proposed by MBC and KCC to tackle these issues, and the
        rationale and proposed timetable for them, are described in the table below.

E.16.   Broadly, these fit within the three themes we have described as: 1)
        improving access to the town centre; 2) improving access to GSE and
        national markets; and 3) unlocking key sites.




                                              - 85 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Summary of Transport Interventions

PROJECT           DESCRIPTION/ RATIONALE                             PROGRESS / MILESTONES                                      PARTNERS

Access to the Town Centre
All Saints Link   High Street Ward regeneration. Upper Stone St. environmental          ASLR about to start design of amended alignment, aiming        MBC, Kent
Road              measure. Historical precinct, Archbishops Palace, Carriage            for a planning application.                                    Highway
                  Museum.                                                                                                                              Services
                                                                                        Upper Stone Street being considered for minor widening to
                  The Borough is also considering environmental improvements to         allow provision of a lay-by on the eastern side. This may be
                  the High Street itself. These would need to accommodate               combined with Wrens Cross regeneration
                  continuing access to the High Street for buses, taxis and servicing
                  vehicles.                                                             Investigation of environmental improvement in the High
                                                                                        Street to begin later this year

Improvements      Construction of two lanes northbound for A229 to ease congestion      Discussion continues with EDF over substation                  KHS
to the            and allow better management of the bridge gyratory system             modifications. Currently expected scheme construction is in
Gyratory                                                                                2010/11 via LTP funding
system




Park and Ride     Three new Park and Ride sites are under consideration. The            Langley Park Farm site scheme being considered by a            MBC, KHS
improvements      Langley Park Farm site on the A274 would replace the site at          project group. Will identify preferred layout in April, then
                  Coombe Quarry that closed last year. Blue Bell Hill would serve the   proceed to design.
                  A229 on the northern approach to Maidstone, and Linton
                  Crossroads would serve the A229 from the south.                       Blue Bell Hill site access being designed for safety audit

                                                                                        Potential for a site at the A229/B2163 junction at Linton
                                                                                        Crossroads will be evaluated

Urban Traffic     Integration with Highways Agency‟s systems, and variable speed        The Maidstone UTMC system will be substantially complete       KHS, HA
Management        controls (on the M20).                                                in 2009/10. Management of total highway network being
(UTMC)                                                                                  coordinated with Highways Agency. The HA is progressing
                  MBC is going to declare all of the built-up area of Maidstone as an   its Controlled Motorway project
                  Air Quality Management Area. Efficient traffic management will




                                                                                                             - 86 -                           SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                 form part of the action to improve air quality

Public           Improve convenience and reliability of main routes. There will be a     Initially improvement of routes linking housing estates to    KHS
transport        combination of minor works and more major schemes through both          the town centre. Work will include extension of the bus
improvements     LTP and development funding                                             lane on the A274 Sutton Road, and physical improvement
                                                                                         of route through the Shepway estate

Town centre      Coordinate with long term access strategy for public transport          Long term strategy to be developed                            MBC, KHS
parking          (including Park and Ride)
strategy

Access to GSE, National and International Markets

Motorway
access

Mitigating the   Potential site has been identified by KCC at Aldington                  Awaiting DfT decision on funding                              DfT
effects of
Operation
Stack

M20 Junction     The Highways Agency has identified junction improvements as             The HA has recently clarified their expectations to include   Highways
improvements     essential before growth can come forward.                               signals at Junctions 5, 7 and 8, plus a Type H merge for      Agency,
                                                                                         the westbound on-slip at J8 and conversion to parallel        KHS, MBC
                                                                                         merge at J5 eastbound onto the Collector /Distributor
                                                                                         carriageway.




Strategic rail
connections

High speed       Continue to lobby Government for fast rail connections to London.       Lobbying will continue for both fast/semi-fast service to     MBC, KCC
services to      There is still some desire for a direct link to Gatwick, but there is   London and avoiding loss of village services between
London           no active work on this taking place at the moment.                      Maidstone and Ashford.




                                                                                                                     - 87 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Unlocking key sites / areas for employment growth

South East       Would link the Urban Extension and Parkwood Industrial Estate         Being developed in conjunction with Masterplanning for the   KHS, MBC
Maidstone        with M20 Junction 8                                                   south east urban extension. Traffic model of Maidstone
Strategic Link                                                                         being built to evaluate future transport options




M20 Junction     The HA has raised capacity issues on the M20 junctions that serve     Traffic signals needed at Junction 5                         KHS, HA
Improvements     Maidstone. They also have concern about the main line capacity of
                 the M20 west of Maidstone (Junctions 3-5) and the capacity of the     No improvements planned at Junction 6.
                 M2 at Junction 5 (Stockbury). This latter junction is seen as a key
                 to the Growth Area in Swale Borough                                   Traffic signals proposed for Junction 7 roundabout, plus
                                                                                       further improvements on local road network to be funded
                                                                                       by future development.

                                                                                       Traffic signals needed for Junction 8




A multi-modal transport model (VISM) is currently being prepared to consider in more detail the implications of growth point status
and also Kent International Gateway. VISIM may refine current thinking on the table above.



 Recommended Actions

    28. Continue to lobby DfT, Network Rail and work with KCC to take forward
        the programme of interventions described above. Priority projects include:
        M20, Maidstone Strategic Link and enhanced rail services.




                                                                                                                   - 88 -                SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Section 7.
Spatial Implications




         - 89 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
7.     SPATIAL IMPLICATIONS

7.1.   The Council must ensure that planning policies are put
       in place which enable the economic vision and strategy                Objective 1:
       to be translated into development on the ground. In                   Strengthen the town
       this section, we consider how the pattern of                          centre.
       Maidstone‟s economic growth needs to inform spatial
                                                                             Objective 2:
       planning and vice versa.
                                                                             Ensure a pipeline of
                                                                             high quality sites
7.2.   As described in Section A, the Regional Spatial
       Strategy sets out the broad principles for Maidstone‟s                Objective 8:
       spatial development in the regional context, which in                 Enable rural towns
       turn is translated into local policy via the Local                    and villages to
       Development Framework (LDF).                                          develop as
                                                                             economic centres.
7.3.   The LDF Core Strategy is currently being revisited in
       light of:                                                             Objective 9:
                                                                             Ensure principles of
              the concept of a strategic rail freight                        environmental
              interchange/Kent International Gateway;                        sustainability
                                                                             underpin public
              the need to undertake a Strategic Housing Land
                                                                             sector investment.
              Availability Assessment under PPS3; and
              changes in the requirements under the new
              Local Development Framework regulations and the new PPS12, Local
              Spatial Planning, which places emphasis on infrastructure delivery and
              now explicitly allows for strategic allocations;

7.4.   Leaving aside these reconsiderations, there is a high degree of consistency
       between the economic vision and strategy outlined in this report and the LDF
       Core Strategy Preferred Options document.

       The Overall Scale of Growth and Spatial Objectives

7.5.   In terms of the overall scale of growth in the borough, a clear target for
       housing growth (10,080 net additional homes over the next 20 years) has
       been set by the RSS. However, there are no statutory jobs targets for the
       borough, because employment growth is notoriously difficult to predict.

7.6.   The Preferred Options document identified an outline target figure of 10,000
       new jobs in the borough over the next 20 years - 500 jobs per annum - but
       recognising that growth could be above this. Forecasts prepared by Experian
       for the South East Plan51 predict a lower rate of 6,500 jobs between 2006-
       2020 - around 460 jobs per annum. We are unclear whether these forecasts
       account for population growth in Maidstone as a result of additional housing
       provision. GVA Grimley adopted a similar forecast for the Employment Land
       Study.

7.7.   Maidstone has one of the lowest forecast growth rates of all boroughs in the
       South East according to Experian. The average annual growth rate for the
       region as a whole is expected to be 0.77% compared to 0.55% in Maidstone.


       51
          „South East Plan Examination in Public Note to Panel from SEEDA, 2: Economic and Employment
       Forecasts by Local Authority District. (Dec 2006)




                                              - 90 -                         SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        If Maidstone were to grow at the rate forecast for the South East then 9,650
        jobs would be created in the period 2006-2020. Over a period of 20 years,
        this equates to approximately 13,800 jobs - above the Core Strategy
        Preferred Options jobs target.

7.8.    Over the last 10 years, job growth has been almost double the „business as
        usual‟ rate forecast for the next 20 years. According to ABI figures, 11,600
        jobs were created between 1995 and 2005 – 1,160 per annum52. On this
        basis, and the premise that Maidstone should aim to grow at the same rate
        as the South East, the 10,000 outline target in the Preferred Options
        document could be considered a minimum. In our view, 10,000 jobs
        represents the right balance between a aspirations for growth and
        deliverability.

7.9.    Policy CS3 of the Core Strategy Preferred Options states that in the first
        instance, new employment land locations will be identified in the Land
        Allocations DPD to meet the Kent and Medway Structure Plan requirement of
        36ha. However, a higher requirement (possibly up to 47ha) may be required
        in recognition that employment growth will need to accelerate in line with
        population growth. Based on the more modest Experian forecast, GVA
        Grimley conclude in the Employment Land Study that between 12.5ha and
        27ha of employment land (gross) will be required between 2006-2027.

7.10.   Growth will need to be accommodated across the borough according to the
        spatial objectives set out in the Core Strategy. In relation to economic
        growth, the Preferred Options document includes the following objectives:

                Spatial Objective 1 is to attract new high quality and skilled
                employment uses, to protect and develop the existing and indigenous
                employment base, to raise the skill levels of the existing workforce and
                improve life-long learning opportunities.
                Spatial Objective 2 is to ensure that growth in new employment,
                technology and knowledge clusters and learning opportunities are at
                least balanced with population change, in order to reduce the need for
                commuting out of the borough for well paid work. As part of new
                employment opportunities, promote and encourage rural economic
                diversification.
                Spatial Objective 3 is to improve the quality of the retail, business,
                cultural, leisure and tourism „offer‟ of the town centre as Maidstone is
                a Primary Regional Centre and will be one of the top retail destinations
                of the South East.

7.11.   The Core Strategy Preferred Options states that priority in the first part of
        the Plan period (2006-2016) will be given to development at Maidstone town
        and rural service centres. Emphasis will be on improving and regenerating
        the town centre and outworn areas to achieve high quality urban living,
        reinforcing the role of the county town. In the second phase of the plan
        period (2016-2026) it is recognised that it will be necessary to bring forward
        development on Greenfield sites (primarily for residential development). The
        preferred approach is to create an attractive and cohesive new mixed use
        sustainable community to the south-east of Maidstone town.


        52
          Monitoring employment growth is notoriously difficult due to the quality and consistency of the data
        available. ABI is considered to be the best publicly available source.




                                                           - 91 -                   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
7.12.   The spatial objectives in the LDF are consistent with the economic vision,
        objectives and strategy in this document. We consider some of the spatial
        implications in more detail below, taking in turn the town centre, edge of
        town sites and rural areas.


        The Town Centre: Creating a Hub for Economic Activity

7.13.   Maidstone town centre must develop its role as a hub for economic activity if
        the vision for Maidstone is to be realised. This means attracting more
        knowledge intensive business and professional services, and taking the retail
        and leisure offer to the next stage. As articulated in previous sections of this
        report, there are some critical issues to resolve, including:

              the supply of high quality office space and the future of current
              secondary office stock (see Section 6A business and professional
              services);
              the future scale and type of retail development, and in particular how
              to attract higher quality retail (see Section 6A retail and leisure); and
              attracting higher quality cultural and leisure facilities (see Section D1).
7.14.   In addition, the town centre would benefit from a stronger university
        presence, and managed workspace in the form of a new Maidstone
        Enterprise Centre (see Section 6B and 6D respectively).

7.15.   In our view, these issues, and the plans for significant residential
        development, require a comprehensive approach to the town centre in the
        form of an Area Action Plan (AAP) Development Plan Document
        (DPD). However, there is an issue of timing of an Area Action Plan DPD,
        since an AAP cannot be undertaken until the Core Strategy has been
        adopted. New planning guidance makes it possible to include key sites
        (including those in the town centre) in the Core Strategy, and this may be a
        possible way of moving forward more quickly.

7.16.   A comprehensive approach to regeneration would offer longer term certainty
        and confidence to the private sector by setting out a phased programme of
        development and complimentary investment. It could also be used to
        harness wider strategic input and funding from partners such as SEEDA. This
        concurs with the view expressed by GVA Grimley in the Employment Land
        Study. A good example of a successful approach to town centre regeneration
        with minimal public sector expenditure is Chelmsford (see below).




                                                - 92 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
        Case Study: Chelmsford

        Chelmsford shares many of the characteristics of Maidstone; it is the county town of Essex,
        located within similar distance of London, and a similar - if slightly smaller - population of
        110,00. Like Maidstone, the borough has a relatively large public sector, reflecting its civic and
        administrative role as the headquarters of the County Council, Essex Police and the courts. In
        recent years Chelmsford has attracted significant private sector interest in the town centre
        and is now a major regional shopping centre. The borough also has particular strengths in
        business and professional services and has been successful in developing a higher value-
        added service sector. Chelmsford appeals to these companies because of its high skilled
        workforce, its connectivity and quality of life.

        Chelmsford has experienced strong employment growth in recent years bringing forward a
        number of high quality sites for development in the town centre in the West End and Chelmer
        Waterside areas. Over the period 2001-2005, some 8000 jobs were created. Much of this
        growth was been fuelled by expansion of the business and professional services sector.
        Looking forward the borough is delivering 16,000 new homes and targeting the creation of
        20,000 new jobs.

        The council is looking to build on recent success, and has published an ambitious growth
        strategy, Chelmsford Tomorrow. The council is keen to strengthen Chelmsford‟s regional role
        for shopping, major employment, civic and administrative functions, arts, culture and leisure
        facilities and as a centre for excellence in education and health care.

        An Area Action Plan has recently been produced for the town centre, identifying the main
        sites and opportunity areas for development of the retail, leisure and service sectors. A
        development partner will be appointed to take forward the proposals. The Council is in the
        process of examining the capacity of employment sites across the borough to assess the
        feasibility of higher growth. A number of complementary edge of town sites for business park
        and warehousing/distribution have been identified.

7.17.   The Town Centre Management group and GVA Grimley have identified a
        number of sites with potential for future commercial and mixed use
        development:

                   27 Mote Road - planning permission has been granted for a 90,000
                   sq ft office development in Maidstone town centre. The premises will
                   offer nine-stories of open-plan flexible workspace, with good car
                   parking allocations.
                   Springfield Business Park – a proposed restoration of Springfield
                   Manor House for high-class offices. Located close to junction 6 of the
                   M20 the site will also include approximately 200,000 sq ft of new
                   prestigious offices. Springfield was planned for completion by
                   September 2009 but it has not come forward for development.
                   Maidstone East Station - The 2.8 hectare site includes Maidstone
                   East railway station, the town centre‟s main rail link to London. The
                   Kier Group has been chosen by Network Rail to help with the area‟s
                   redevelopment, and a £50 million redevelopment plan was announced
                   including proposals for a hotel, 100 homes and a 55,000 sq ft store53.
                   Albion Place – offices along Albion Place have high vacancy rates
                   despite reasonable quality and location due to the terms of the leases.
                   A comprehensive redevelopment of the area could provide significant
                   levels of high quality office space and residential units.
                   London Road – the triangle between London Road, Tonbridge Road
                   and Terrace Road is currently occupied by a mix of buildings which do
                   not meet the demands of modern business. The site is well located in


        53
             Locate in Maidstone, 2008




                                                        - 93 -                   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              close proximity to the town centre, within walking distance of the
              station. A comprehensive redevelopment could provide significant
              levels of high quality office space and residential units.
              Power Hub – the site is currently marketed as a business centre
              providing space on short term lease. The site is well located with good
              road access and within walking distance of the station. However, the
              former factory does not lend itself to modern business at present and
              has large vacancy rates. As noted by GVA Grimley, the site could
              provide affordable space for an incubator/enterprise centre subject to
              re-branding. Alternatively, the site could be redeveloped as a mixed
              use development with the requirement of re-providing affordable
              workspace.
              Peugeot site - large parts of the site are currently used for parking
              but the Council has considered options for retail use and a bus station.
              The Employment Land Study suggested its central location could lend
              itself to high quality office development.

7.18.   Through the town centre AAP, the Council should ensure these sites form
        part of a prioritised, phased development programme for office development
        in Maidstone. It should also set out a phased programme of commercial
        renewal to deal with the over supply of older office accommodation. The
        process for this would be to engage with owners and developers to undertake
        site appraisals.

7.19.   The AAP would help to define more clearly the role, function and mix of uses
        for different „quarters‟ of the town centre. It could address the need to create
        a stronger retail circuit and the detailed plans to develop the retail and
        leisure sectors in the town, linked to the town‟s wider housing growth
        agenda. Moreover, it could also address parking concerns, and environmental
        and public realm improvements.


        Edge of Town Sites: Complementary Growth

7.20.   While the town centre should be the priority for commercial development,
        there may be circumstances where complementary edge of town
        development is required. In the Core Strategy preferred scenario, new
        employment opportunities will also be permitted in locations at the northern
        edge of the urban area close to the strategic highway network. These edge of
        town developments need to be made available for investors needing
        motorway access, parking, and larger quantities of floorspace. This will allow
        Maidstone to compete with business parks such as Kings Hill and ensure
        development is complementary to the town centre.

7.21.   Maidstone has the advantageous position of its motorway junctions also
        being in close proximity to the town centre. Good public transport links to the
        town centre and surrounding areas (including an enhanced park and ride),
        and the provision of amenities for employees, will be vital for ensuring that
        edge of town development is sustainable. This strategy also recognises there
        may be a time lag in the site assembly and redevelopment of town centre
        sites.

7.22.   The employment land study identified a number of sites with potential for out
        of town office development. Existing sites which could be developed include:




                                               - 94 -               SHARED INTELLIGENCE
              Eclipse Business Park – plans for Phase II and III total 200,000 sq ft
              of office space. Due for completion in early 2009.
              20/20 Business Park – a mixed use business park with good
              motorway access but underused/vacant land which could be developed
              for office use subject to improvements to the estate.
              Lordswood – predominantly an industrial estate with some recent
              office development and capacity for further development.

7.23.   To provide additional choice and flexibility, GVA Grimley suggest some
        additional sites may be required:

              Abbey Court and West Abbey Court – both located along the
              motorway but with possible site access issues and access to amenities.
              Junction 8 M20– a 16ha site with excellent strategic road access but
              poor access to amenities.

        The Employment Land Study suggests there is an overall balance between
        demand and supply of industrial land up to 2016. However, there is little
        vacant industrial land in the southern part of the Borough to provide for the
        demand of additional industrial floorspace. Industrial sites across Maidstone
        Borough are generally well occupied and vibrant and some recent
        development (e.g. at Honeycrest Industrial Park) demonstrated the local
        demand. This is particularly the case for the larger sites in the south of the
        Borough at Marden, Staplehurst and Headcorn.

7.24.   The Study suggests consideration should be given to the provision of an
        additional 3 to 5 hectares as extensions of existing industrial parks in the
        southern part of the Borough. Preference should be given to light industrial,
        general industrial and small scale warehousing uses. Demand for large scale
        warehousing and distribution can be provided for by the relatively high levels
        of vacancies at Paddock Wood just south of the Borough.

7.25.   In the northern part of the Borough the Employment Land Study indicates
        there are a number of estates which demonstrate higher vacancy levels
        reflecting under-investment. A co-ordinated improvement programme is
        recommended, focusing initially on the Park Wood Industrial Estates and
        20:20 Business Park in Allington. This could involve a mix of environmental
        and public realm investment together with progressive renewal and
        redevelopment of dated premises.


        The Location of Future Development

7.26.   The preferred option of the Core Strategy, which has been the subject of
        public consultation, put forward the option of the urban extension.
        Consultation with the Highways Agency has made it clear that from their
        point of view this is the only part of the town that has the capacity to take
        the scale of growth proposed and it is therefore rational to explore this area.

7.27.   The Urban Extension would help to support economic growth in a number of
        ways. Based on the current options report by consultants EDAW, no
        significant new employment site allocations are expected although all options
        include some allocation for employment in local centres to serve the
        population, e.g. local retail, leisure and services.



                                               - 95 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
7.28.   The South East Maidstone Strategic Link Road will improve motorway access
        for this part of the borough. Park Wood Industrial estate will benefit from
        improved access. Depending on the outcome of the study, there may be
        opportunities in the longer term for reconfiguration of the industrial estate to
        attract higher quality uses.

7.29.   The bigger impact of the urban extension is likely to be felt elsewhere in the
        borough, notably Maidstone town centre, which will benefit from an enlarged
        catchment population. Connectivity between the urban extension and the
        rest of the borough will therefore be vital.


        Rural Areas

7.30.   The Core Strategy includes policies to support the development of rural
        areas. As noted in Section D1, Maidstone‟s rural areas are important for
        attracting highly skilled workers to the borough and policies should support
        their growth as centres in their own right.




                                               - 96 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
Section 8.
Making It Happen:
The Action Plan




             - 97 -   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
8.     MAKING IT HAPPEN: THE ACTION PLAN

8.1.   This final section focuses on delivery and implementation of the plan,
       including governance arrangements and monitoring. In section 2, we
       identified governance arrangements as an important driver of urban
       competitiveness; places with strong political and executive leadership tend to
       be more successful. If the Economic Development Strategy is to be
       successfully delivered then clear lines of responsibility need to be
       established. This means agreeing lead responsibilities, the timetable for
       delivering the action, and the resources available to support delivery.


       Governance

8.2.   Maidstone Borough Council will be the primary agent in delivering the
       strategy. However, future economic success depends on the contribution of a
       wider group of stakeholders including Mid Kent College, UCCA, the Town
       Centre Management, Locate in Kent, Kent Country Council, Business Link,
       SEEDA, the Chamber of Commerce, the Professional Hub, the LSC and other
       public and private sector partners. Throughout our consultation, a significant
       majority of stakeholders have expressed the view that a forum is needed to
       bring together local partners to forge closer joint working.

8.3.   There is clear appetite among local partners to work together to create a
       more competitive and successful local economy, which the Council should
       capitalise on. Therefore, in our view, it should support the creation of a local
       economic partnership tied in to the Local Strategic Partnership. The
       partnership will bring together public and private agencies, strengthening
       business engagement and, if successful, generating a stronger voice in
       the region.

8.4.   The terms of reference for the partnership should be based on delivering the
       vision and the main actions in the Economic Strategy, focusing on three or
       four priorities initially where there are shared concerns. The partnership
       would also help to improve accountability both in terms of the actions of the
       Council but also other stakeholders such as education providers. Such
       strategic partnerships have been successful in other parts of the country
       such as Peterborough and Gloucestershire.




                                              - 98 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
       Case Study: Gloucestershire First Local Economic Partnership

       Gloucestershire First is the countywide partnership established to support the economic
       development of Gloucestershire. It is an enabling organisation under which partners in the
       field of economic development share and co-ordinate their strategies and contribute to an
       overall economic plan for the County. This ensures that the interests of Gloucestershire are
       properly and effectively taken into account in partners‟ wider considerations and that the
       county plays a full role within the region. Additionally, the partnership provides a vehicle for
       agreed programmes of common interest to be handled in a cost-effective and efficient
       manner.

       Gloucestershire First has successfully improved the County‟s interface with the South West
       RDA. It represents the needs, priorities, interests and concerns of Gloucestershire in
       responding to the South West RDA and other regional organisations on consultation initiatives,
       strategy work and policy development. It is recognised as the countywide economic
       development Partnership and has the economic remit for the Gloucestershire Strategic
       Partnership (GSP).

       The Partnership has a Board Advisory Panel, which acts in an advisory capacity in their
       specialist areas and report on and recommend actions. Meetings are held quarterly and
       members are drawn from the private sector, local authorities, the voluntary/community sector
       and other agencies with economic development responsibilities. The partnership is funded by a
       number of partner organisations - the County Council, District Councils, the South West
       Regional Development Agency, the Learning & Skills Council Gloucestershire, Business Link
       Gloucestershire and private sector sponsorship.




8.5.   While the economic partnership will help to strengthen strategic decision
       making, there remains a need to build capacity within the Council to
       deliver economic development. A number of the recommendations in this
       report require the Council to take a lead, for example, raising the awareness
       of the regional support services on offer through Business Link and SEEDA
       among local businesses. Responsibilities for economic development are
       currently shared between one economic development manager, planning
       officers, and a tourism manager. In our view, if the strategy is to be
       delivered, additional resources are required.

8.6.   Clearly, Maidstone also needs to build strategic alliances at a subregional
       level. Following the termination of the Channel Corridor Partnership, future
       subregional partnership arrangements, and the mechanisms for devolving
       SEEDA funding are unclear. These arrangements will be resolved in due
       course. For Maidstone, whatever the subregional structure, the challenge
       remains the same: to communicate a consistent story about the economic
       development priorities for the borough.



        Recommended Actions

            29. Establish an economic partnership for Maidstone linked to the LSP.
            30. In light of the SNR, Maidstone needs to urgently determine its
                relationship with the RDA; determine who it partners with; and what
                it‟s approach is to the new Economic Duty.




                                                      - 99 -                  SHARED INTELLIGENCE
The Action Plan
A. DEVELOPING SPECIALISMS: KEY SECTORS

                                                 ACTIONS / MILESTONES                    LEAD


   Business and Professional Services

   1. Engage with local agents/land owners       Discussions with local agents – Jan     MBC, TCM
      to undertake site-by-site appraisals of    2008.
      secondary office accommodation and
      test the feasibility for conversion,       Actions to be agreed as part of town
      demolition or refurbishment, as part of    centre DPD in accordance with LDF
      a comprehensive approach to office         timetable.
      development.

   2. Prepare a prioritised, phased              Actions to be agreed as part of town    MBC, TCM
      programme of office development,           centre DPD in accordance with LDF
      identifying sites for prime high quality   – timetable.
      office space in the town centre and for
      complementary edge of town
      development.

   3. Support the networking activities of the   Scoping with Professional Hub June-     MBC,
      Professional Hub, as part of the new       Dec 2008                                Professional
      Local Economic Partnership (see                                                    Hub
      below)                                     Economic Partnership established by
                                                 Jan 2009


   Retail, Leisure and Culture

   4. Following the outcome of the Retail        Actions to be agreed as part of town    MBC/TCM
      Capacity Study, identify the scale and     centre DPD in accordance with LDF
      type of retail and leisure space           – timetable.
      required, as part of a comprehensive
      approach.

   5. Attract high quality cultural facilities   Implement recommendations from          MBC, TCM
      befitting a county town and improve the    the Bone Wells night time economy
      public realm in the town centre.           study.

                                                 Actions to be agreed as part of town
                                                 centre DPD in accordance with LDF
                                                 – timetable.


   Creative and Media

   6. Support the expansion and                  MBC to factor in to site search and     MBC
      consolidation of UCCA in Maidstone,        respond accordingly to UCCA
      and the university’s efforts to develop    decision.
      its knowledge transfer capacity.                                                   UCCA, SEEDA
                                                 UCCA to articulate opportunities to
                                                 develop knowledge transfer with
                                                 support from SEEDA.

   7. Test the feasibility of a new Maidstone    Initial scoping – July-Oct 2008         MBC, SEEDA
      Enterprise Centre with incubation units
      suitable for media companies and           Feasibility study completed – Jan
      exhibition space for the university.       2009

   8. Partners should input to the               Business    Plan       finalised   by   Media Tree
      preparation of the new business plan       September 2008                          Steering
      for the Media Tree network to make                                                 Group, Pillory
      the network sustainable.                                                           Barn




                                                  - 100 -                     SHARED INTELLIGENCE
The Rural Economy

9. Undertake further research to                Subject to discussion with partners,    MBC
   understand the nature of the rural           commission a business survey with a
   economy in Maidstone. Further to this,       focus on the rural economy and          Kent     Rural
   consider how regional and county             communicate findings with Kent          Board
   initiatives could better support             Rural Board – by April 2009
   Maidstone’s rural sector.

10. Include policies in the LDF Core            Policies agreed by subgroup to feed     MBC
    Strategy to support the vitality of rural   into the LDF process according to
    service centres.                            timetable.


Sustainable Construction

11. Support the efforts of Mid Kent College     MBC to input to Mid Kent College’s      Mid       Kent
    to expand its operations and to             proposals – Summer 2008                 College, MBC
    develop HE provision in the
    construction sector.

12. Improve local understanding of the          Subject to discussion with partners,    MBC, SEEDA
    nature of the construction sector in        commission a business survey, with
    Maidstone and the opportunities to          a focus on the construction sector –
    capitalise on the sustainability agenda.    Jan 2009


Public Sector/Health and Education

13. Identify and promote opportunities for      Opportunities to be explored in Urban   MBC
    new high quality public services to         Extension preferred options including
    support regeneration in the borough.        social infrastructure - end of 2008.


Tourism and the Olympics

14. Implement the main proposals in the         See Tourism Strategy.                   MBC
    Tourism Strategy.

15. Engage with regional Olympics               Olympics proposals published by         MBC, SEEDA
    programmes to capture the benefits for      SEEDA
    local people and businesses in
    Maidstone.                                  MBC to agree with SEEDA how
                                                regional programmes could benefit
                                                Maidstone.




                                                 - 101 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
B. CREATING A MORE INNOVATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL ECONOMY

                                                       ACTIONS / MILESTONES                       LEAD

    16. Explore the feasibility of a Maidstone         As described above in supporting the       MBC/ SEEDA
        Enterprise Centre – serviced small             Creative/Media sector.
        business premises – with a possible
        focus on creative/media companies.

    17. Engage with Business Link to agree a           Meeting between MBC, Business Link         MBC,
        programme of activity relevant to the          and SEEDA to identify opportunities        Business
        Maidstone economy.                             and agree a programme of tailored          Link, SEEDA
                                                       support.

    18. Support UCCA and Mid Kent College to           Agree sites for UCCA consolidation,        MBC,
        develop knowledge transfer capabilities.       and support Mid Kent College in the        SEEDA,
                                                       development of its new campus.             UCCA,     Mid
                                                       Identify immediate opportunities for       Kent College
                                                       supporting       knowledge  transfer
                                                       irrespective of .

    19. Develop stronger mechanisms for                Agree with SEEDA which regional            MBC, SEEDA
        promoting regional innovation support          support services could be targeted at
        services locally.                              Maidstone companies, and how to
                                                       promote them more effectively.




C. ATTRACTING AND RETAINING INVESTMENT

                                                       ACTIONS / MILESTONES                       LEAD

    20. Identify a portfolio of premises to support    Portfolio of sites agreed by MBC           MBC
        investment in key sectors, and ensure a        according to LDF timetable
        long term pipeline of sites (see also key
        sectors actions)

    21. Clearly define Maidstone’s offer in            Revisit service level agreement with       LIK
        relation to LIK activities and prepare a       LIK and agree key sectors for
        prospectus as more sites come forward.         Maidstone LIK – July 2008
                                                                                                  MBC
                                                       Locate in Maidstone website updated
                                                       – Summer 2008.                             MBC/LIK

                                                       Longer term when sites come forward,
                                                       implement a more proactive marketing
                                                       campaign.

    22. Identify the top 20 businesses for             Top 20 businesses identified and           MBC/LIK
        business retention and, with LiK, develop      quarterly/half yearly contact to ensure
        stronger client relationships.                 their needs are being met - by 2009.




D. DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF LIFELONG LEARNING

                                                      ACTIONS / MILESTONES                       LEAD

23. Maximise the take up and impact of national       According to national timetables           KCC
    skills programmes including: Train to Gain,
    the Skills Pledge and other mainstream            To be taken forward by the Economic        Economic
    initiatives. Support the work of the Local        Partnership when established.              Partnership
    Education Authority and education
    providers in preparing for the new Diploma.




                                                        - 102 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
24. Ensure that actions to address NEETS in         Key proposals captured in Sustainable      MBC/LSP
    Shepway and Park Wood are fully                 Community Strategy – published in
    embedded in the Community Strategy.             Jan 2009

25. Maximise the regeneration benefits of the       MBC to discuss with KCC before the         MBC
    eventual roll out of the Building Schools for   end of 2008 and to consider
    the Future programme in Maidstone.              implications for land use planning.        KCC

26. Continue to work to expand higher               MBC to identify shortlist of sites         MBC, UCCA,
    education provision in the Borough and          across the borough – June 2008             Mid      Kent
    seek to ensure the consolidation of both                                                   College,
    UCCA and Mid Kent College.                                                                 SEEDA,
                                                                                               HEFCE

27. Work with Kent County Council to support        Actions to be agreed with KCC and          MBC
    improvement in schools performance at           Kent Children’s Trust
    GCSE and A-level.                                                                          KCC



E. TRANSPORT AND CONNECTIVITY

                                                     ACTIONS / MILESTONES                       LEAD

28. Continue to lobby DfT, Network Rail and          Economic Partnership to keep a             MBC
    work with KCC to take forward the                watching brief on key projects and to
    programme of interventions. Priority projects    lobby for action.
    include: M20, Maidstone Strategic Link and                                                  KCC
    enhanced rail services.                          Milestones set out in transport section
                                                     of the report.




F. GOVERNANCE

                                                    ACTIONS / MILESTONES                        LEAD

29. Establish an economic partnership for           Initial scoping with partners via the       MBC
    Maidstone linked to the LSP.                    LSP– Summer 2008

                                                    Terms of reference agreed –November
                                                    2008

                                                    Economic Partnership up and running
                                                    – Jan 2009

30. In light of the SNR, Maidstone needs to         MBC and SEEDA agree arrangements            SEEDA,
    urgently determine its relationship with the    for devolution of funding – Summer          SEERA, MBC
    RDA; determine who it partners with; and        2008
    what its approach is to the new Economic
    Duty.                                           MBC agrees subregoinal partners –
                                                    Summer 2008

                                                    MBC to submit response to SEERA
                                                    Select   Committee    on SEEDA’s
                                                    subregional partnership working –
                                                    June/July 2008




                                                      - 103 -                    SHARED INTELLIGENCE
       Monitoring and Evaluation

8.7.   To measure progress towards the actions detailed above each of the actions
       will be monitored against the agreed milestones and reported annually to the
       new economic partnership.

8.8.   In addition, the overall performance of the Maidstone economy will need to
       be monitored against a range of relevant datasets. This will provide an
       overall measure of the „health‟ of the Maidstone economy and highlight
       where further action, or reprioritisation is required.

8.9.   An indicative table for monitoring performance of the local economy, and
       possible targets, is provided below. This captures the current Kent
       Agreement 2 LAA indicators and a number of others where it would be
       prudent for the Council to monitor annually.




                                            - 104 -             SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                                                            Current         Current
                                                                                                                                                Targets
                                                   KA2      Figure -        Figure -
       Indicator             Source         NI                                                         Targets to align with?                 2010/11 -
                                                    NI     Maidstone       South East
                                                                                                                                               2015/16
                                                            (2008)          (2008)

                                                            £17,787                       SEEDA target: Achieve an average annual increase    TARGETS TO
 Average annual growth                                                       19,434
                               ONS          No     N/A   (2007), source:                    in GVA per capita of at least 3% (at constant     BE AGREED
  rate in GVA per head                                                       (2005)
                                                              KCC                                              prices)                          BY MBC



                                                                                          SEEDA target: Increase productivity by an average
                              ABI,                                           £39,000
    GVA per worker                          No     No    £33,700 (2005)                    2.4% annually, from £39,000 in 2005 to at least
                             Gavurin                                          (2005)
                                                                                                                3%




                                                                                          SEEDA target: 'Increase the business stock by 35%
VAT registered businesses                                                                  from 35 businesses per 1,000 inhabitants in 2005
                            ONS Nomis       No     No     49.44 (2007)     46.11 (2006)
  per 1,000 population                                                                       to 44 per 1,000 inhabitants by 2016, including
                                                                                            10,000 new businesses run by women by 2010.'




                                                                                            KA2 target: Aim to reduce differential on GOSE
New business registration     BERR
                                           NI171   Yes        N/A              N/A           level by 2 percentage points on at least one
         rate                website
                                                                                                  occasion between 2008 and 2011.




                                                                                            SEEDA target: 'Increase the percentage of total
                               Patent                                                      South East business turnover attributable to new
 Patent applications per    office, ABI,                                                   products from 12% in 2004 to 20% by 2016, and
                                            No     No      0.8 (2006)       1.6 (2006)
       1000 firms               APS,                                                          the percentage attributable to significantly
                              Gavurin                                                      improved products from 18% in 2004 to 25% by
                                                                                                                2016.



                                                                                                       - 105 -                       SHARED INTELLIGENCE
 Proportion of population
                                                                                     KA2 target: Still under discussion with GOSE.
aged 19-64 (males) & 19-                                               68.0%
                               APS    NI163   Yes   65.5% (2006)                    Suggested improvement by 2% ("or closing the
59 (females) qualified to at                                           (2006)
                                                                                                          gap")
  least level 2 or higher

 Proportion of population
aged 19-64 (males) & 19-                                               49.4%        Perhaps use targets derived from SE trends or
                               APS    NI164   No    49.0% (2006)
59 (females) qualified to at                                           (2006)                 suggest "closing the gap"
  least level 3 or higher

 Proportion of population
aged 19-64 (males) & 19-                                               30.5%
                               APS    NI165   No    33.7% (2006)
59 (females) qualified to at                                           (2006)
  least level 4 or higher
                                                                       78.5%
     Employment rate           APS    NI151   Yes   78.9% (2007)
                                                                       (2006)



                                                                                   KA2:DWP looking for improvement in range of 1%
Working age people on out
                                      NI152   Yes        N/A                             to 3%. Kent initially proposed 2%.
    of work benefits
                                                                                    (Under discussion with GOSE. – not yet agreed)




 16-18 year olds who are
                                                                                   KA2: target has been agreed at 4.8%, but DCSF
    not in education,
                               LSC    NI117   Yes    6.4% (2007)     6.1% (2007)      requesting it be set below 4.6%. Further
 employment or training
                                                                                          discussions under way with GOSE.
         (NEET)



                                                                                   KA2: DCSF Statutory Indicator. Currently under
Achievement of 5 or more
                               DCSF   NI75    Yes        N/A            N/A        discussion with DCSF as part of the annual target
 A*-C grades at GCSE or
                                                                                                    setting process
   equivalent including
    English and Maths
  Total (FT & PT) gross                                               £392.70
                               ASHE   NI166   No    £376.80 (2007)
 weekly workplace wages                                                (2007)
  Total (FT & PT) Gross                                               £407.90
                               ASHE    No     No    £426.80 (2007)
 weekly residential wages                                              (2007)

                                                                                                      - 106 -                 SHARED INTELLIGENCE
9.     APPENDIX

       Theories of Regional Competitiveness

9.1.   Broadly, there are six not mutually exclusive theories of how this may be
       achieved. They focus on:

             The tradable economic base of regions – the notion that the
             prosperity of a region is determined by the strength of its export base,
             i.e. those activities which bring income in to the region by providing a
             good or service („tradables‟) to the outside world (see Rowthorn,
             1999).
             Increasing returns and agglomeration economies – the theory
             that certain regions may possess superior technological, social,
             infrastructural or institutional assets, that are external to, but which
             benefit individual firms. These theories are concerned with
             demonstrating how local competitive advantage is strengthened by the
             spatial agglomeration of economic activity – the accumulation of
             skilled labour, the growth of support industries and services, and
             knowledge transfer and spillovers (see Fujita, Krugman, and Venables,
             1999)
             Endogenous growth models - knowledge and innovation
             theories – theories which also stress the importance of increasing
             returns, but with a particular focus on innovation for driving
             technological progress and human capital. Endogenous growth theory
             thus directs policy towards developing a highly skilled workforce and
             creating a culture of innovation.
             Cluster theories – one of the most influential theories in recent
             years, based on the hypothesis that productivity is raised as a result of
             interactions between interlinked groups of firms in geographic
             proximity and therefore the importance of business and social
             networks - export orientated clusters are thought to be the most
             significant (see Porter 1990, 1998, 2000).
             Cultural economy theories – a number of different cultural theories
             exist which suggest competitiveness is a function of: favourable social,
             cultural and institutional arrangements; quality of life – including an
             abundance of cultural facilities which attract skilled labour,
             entrepreneurs and innovative firms; and the presence of a „creative
             class‟ reflecting the growth in creative and cultural economic activity
             (see Florida, 2002).
             Evolutionary theory – drawing on elements of the above but also
             stressing the path dependent nature of economic development (i.e.
             history matters) and the mechanisms by which some cities and regions
             are able to adapt to changing economic, technological and institutional
             circumstances (see Martin, Kitson and Tyler, 2006).
9.2.   It is important to note that policies tend to focus on creating the supply side
       conditions for growth, with the broad assumption that if the „drivers‟ are in
       place then demand for a region‟s products and services will follow. However,
       as Porter and others have noted, demand for a region‟s products is not
       simply an end result but also an important „driver‟ of competitiveness itself.

                                        - 107 -                   SHARED INTELLIGENCE
9.3.   In a somewhat circular argument, without sufficient demand, enterprise,
       innovation and investment will be constrained. In this respect, local policy
       makers rely on favourable macroeconomic conditions determined to a larger
       extent at a national level. Thus, we must be mindful that the global and
       national economic climate will affect the pace of development in terms of
       private sector investment (i.e. the growth of existing businesses, investment
       in residential and commercial property markets, etc).


       LDF Core Strategy Preferred Options Vision

9.4.   Detailed below is the Maidstone LDF Core Strategy vision for the future of
       Maidstone, as documented on page 7 of the Preferred Options paper.

        “To increase the economic, social and environmental well being of Maidstone Borough
       through spatial planning policies and allocations of land for development, which will:

              create a prosperous Borough

              provide and adequate number, range and mix of housing

              provide a range of social, leisure and retail facilities

       This will be done in a manner that enhances and protects the environment and locates
       development in a sustainable pattern and gives a choices of travel mode in order to
       minimise congestion and pollution.

       This is dependent on the:

              timely provision of the strategic and local infrastructure

              raising standards of service delivery and environmental management and
              managing development to achieve balanced economic and housing growth.

       This will enable Maidstone to have a distinct identity as the 21 st Century County Town at
       the centre of Kent.”


       Kent International Gateway



       Kent International Gateway (KIG) Ltd
       submitted an application to develop a
       Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI),
       warehousing and commercial development
       to the south east of Maidstone, and has
       made a representation in respect of this for
       the Core Strategy.

       The 112.3 hectare area proposed for
       development is shown above. The left-hand
       end of the development ends at Thurnham Lane, whilst the right-hand ends at the
       roundabout on the A20 for junction 8 of the M20. The site meets the M20 in the
       north and the railway line in Bearsted in the South.

       List of stakeholders


                                                      - 108 -              SHARED INTELLIGENCE
9.5.      A programme of face-to-face interviews was conducted with 32 stakeholders
          between January and April 2008. We would like to thank the following
          individuals for giving up their time to contribute to the strategy:

                    Name                      Title                       Organisation



 1     Kate Greenaway          Area Manager                      SEEDA


 2     Clair Fisher            Area Lead for Kent & Medway       GOSE


 3     Ahmad Eslami            Kent & Medway LSC Lead            Learning Skills Council


 4     Janice Wason            Executive Director                Channel Corridor Partnership


 5     Chris Callander         Area Manager - Channel Corridor   Business Link Kent


                               Enterprise Development
 6     Tony Bartlett                                             Business Link Kent
                               Manager


 7     Paul Wookey             Chief Executive                   Locate in Kent


 8     Megan McKibbin          Executive Director                Kent Economic Board


 9     Chris Jones             Mid-Kent Area Schools Officer     Mid-Kent Area Schools Offices


                               Economic Development Policy
 10    Steve Arnett                                              Kent County Council
                               Manager

                               Economic Development Policy
 11    Peter Welsh                                               Kent County Council
                               Manager


 12    Liz Craven              Rural Regeneration Manager        Kent County Council


                               Community Planning Co-
 13    Jim Boot                                                  Maidstone Borough Council
                               ordinator


 14    Laura Dickson           Tourism Manager                   Maidstone Borough Council


 15    Michael Thornton        Policy & Environment Manager      Maidstone Borough Council


                                                                 Maidstone Borough Council (on
 16    Peter Rosevear          Transport Planning
                                                                 secondment from KCC)


 17    Trevor Gasson           Deputy Chief Executive            Maidstone Borough Council


                                                                 Maidstone Town Centre
 18    Bill Moss               Town Centre Manager
                                                                 Management


                                                      - 109 -            SHARED INTELLIGENCE
                                 Director of Construction and
 19    Peter Webb                                               Mid-Kent College
                                 Engineering


 20    Jane Jones                Vice Principal                 Mid-Kent College


                                                                University College for the Creative
 21    Claire Mussell            Head of College, Maidstone
                                                                Arts

       Kent Invicta Chamber of                                  Kent Invicta Chamber of
 22
       Commerce                                                 Commerce


 23    Ivan White                Chairman                       Federation of Small Businesses


 24    Madeleine Thomson         Senior Partner, ASB Law        Professional Hub/ASB Law


                                 Commercial Property Expert,
 25    John Wilkins                                             Hindwoods Hunter Payne
                                 M25 & Kent


 26    Geoff Miles               Managing Director              Maidstone Studios


 27    Charlotte Brooks          Associate Director             EDAW


 28    Sophie White              Associate Partner              Drivers Jonas


                                                                Tonbridge and Malling Borough
 29    Mark Raymond              Economic Development Manager
                                                                Council


 30    Daryl Jones               Economic Development Manager   Tunbridge Wells Borough Council


 31    Kieren Mansfield          Economic Development Manager   Swale Borough Council


 32    Andrew Osborne            Economic Development Manager   Ashford Borough Council




9.6.      We would also like to thank those individuals who attended our Visioning and
          Strategy Development Workshops.




                                                      - 110 -           SHARED INTELLIGENCE

				
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