as companies shed London space
With big corporates such as KPMG shedding London space in the wake of the pandemic, businesses in Tunbridge Wells have grouped together to attract corporates to the town for a regional/spoke office.
The #TWWorks group believe that the location is ideal for big corporates thanks to its excellent pool of talent and thousands of commuters that would rather work closer to home.
With its green open spaces, thriving business community and amenities, together with the fast connectivity to London, the town has all the infrastructure in place to tempt organisations to base themselves outside of the City and inject a healthy dose of wellbeing amongst employees.
Corporates already based in the town include AXA, Markerstudy and Logistics UK (formerly the Freight Transport Association), alongside growing legal and creative companies such as Cripps Pemberton Greenish and Thomson Snell & Passmore – both top 50 law firms – and Southpaw and Ginger May – both global creatives.
Ross Feeney, CEO of Tunbridge Wells Together said: “As a group, we believe the time is right to attract more corporates to Tunbridge Wells, whether this is for a large regional office ‘spokes’ or to sponsor and support employees’ flexible working requirements post-Covid by paying for local office space for them. Either way, Tunbridge Wells has all the elements to support businesses growing in the town. We believe strongly that there is ample opportunity for investors to develop new grade A office space in the area, due to the growing demand for both small office operations and for larger corporates looking to escape London-priced floorplates. Given the year we have all experienced, it has also never been more important to consider better wellbeing and ways to better ‘support local’.”
Tunbridge Wells based law firm Cripps Pemberton Greenish underwent a merger in 2019 with London firm Pemberton Greenish and moved into a new state-of-the-art office. Gavin Tyler, CEO, said: “I think we are likely to see a shift in the way we work post-Covid and as a result I would think we will see Tunbridge Wells continuing to attract even more workers and businesses. Many people have now seen the benefits of a good work life-balance, something we have always encouraged at Cripps. This may mean people commuting into London less regularly and looking for roles where they can work from home or, equally, finding flexible, co-working spaces closer to home. With big residential property developments like Royal Wells Park, Knights Park and Hollyfield being built over the last five years, more professionals have moved to our town and will be seeking to continue that work-life balance they’ve enjoyed over the past six months. This will have a positive knock-on effect for our local businesses. Tunbridge Wells Business Park, if approved, will also provide much needed space for businesses to expand, and enable new businesses to set down roots in Tunbridge Wells.”
Logistics UK – rebranded during lockdown from the Freight Transport Association – serves its international clients from its base in Tunbridge Wells. CEO David Wells said: “Logistics UK, one of the UK’s biggest business groups, has been based in Tunbridge Wells for more than 40 years; we find it is the ideal base for our international organisation with great road, rail and air connections nearby. With a workforce of more than 250 servicing the needs of our 18,000 member businesses, it offers the space we need at an affordable price; this allows us to provide the most value to our members. And with our policy team regularly meeting with government officials in Westminster and beyond, Tunbridge Wells offers easy access into the capital and further afield. Over the years we have seen Tunbridge Wells develop into an exciting business community; it is the perfect location for any company looking for an alternative to the UK’s congested and expensive cities.”
Some big developers are already considering integrating flexible office space with new residential developments, which bodes well for the town’s objectives.
Rupert Home, Development Director at Dandara, said: “We have long considered how mixed use schemes could work across our South East developments. Covid-19 has brought this issue to the forefront of developer’s minds, as remote working has been embraced and the possibility that big city offices may be a thing of the past. We have several large strategic sites in the region and are looking at how flexible work spaces can be incorporated into these residential led schemes.”
With office rents as low as £10 per sq ft in Kent, vs £52.50 as a starting point for most areas of Central London, corporates stand to make huge financial gains by taking space in towns such as Tunbridge Wells, on top of the obvious wellbeing gains (and reduced commuter charges) their employees will benefit from.
You can find out more from the campaign by using the hashtag #TWWorks on socials, promoting the new website www.tunbridgewells.works and by participating in a survey to help the group gather further insight and data: (https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TunbridgeWells)