Swale is a district in Kent, named after the narrow channel called The Swale, a channel that separates the mainland of Kent from the Isle of Sheppey and which occupies the central part of the district.
There are four towns in the borough, Sittingbourne and Faversham on the mainland, with Sheerness and Queenborough being located on Sheppey Island.
The area’s population increased by 10% between the last two censuses.
The average property price in Leatherhead was £551,454 in 2016, making it far more affordable than nearby areas Fetcham and Bookham, yet house prices have increased by 23% since 2014. This means Leatherhead is a great rival to similar commuter towns, such as Crawley.
Leatherhead is home to the UK HQs of several major national and international corporations, including Unilever, Robert Dyas and The Police Federation of England and Wales. The area also contains several business parks and a Post Office sorting office.
Leatherhead is located near plenty of green space, including major parks and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Norbury Park.
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Thanks to a massive housing shortfall in Leatherhead, rental demands have increased along with rental prices.
According to Rightmove, the average rental price is £1,249 pcm, correlating to £879 pcm for a 1 bed flat and £1,369 pcm for a 2 bed flat.
Economy & Employment
With an annual production capacity of around 800,000 tonnes, Kemsley Paper mill is the second biggest recovered fibre-based paper operation in Europe Presently the plant produces K-Light testliner in white and brown, dual-purpose liner/fluting, standard fluting and plasterboard liners. It employs around 1200 staff.
Faversham’s modern town is now known as a harbour and market community; old sail-powered Thames barges are repaired, rebuilt and moored along the creekside.
Shepherd Neame remains a significant regional brewer producing around 230,000 barrels a year. It now also makes Indian and other beers under licence and its large Kentish pub estate is as noted for its food as its beers and is a major local employer.
Fruit is produced on a large scale in this part of Kent, therefore fruit preserving and packing are also large employers, while new industrial and retail parks provide additional employment and services.
The high-speed train service to London takes less than an hour and Maidstone is only 12 miles away, therefore Swale is also a commuter district.
Phase 1 of Sittingbourne’s £100 million regeneration plan is underway. Around 790 jobs will be created over the course of the project, which will provide an estimated economic benefit of £326m for Sittingbourne over the next decade. The project includes new apartments, a multi-screen cinema, restaurants and other retail units.
Around 2,000 new homes are proposed throughout the area of Queenborough and Rushden. The housing will be provided on brownfield land, west of Rushenden Road, mainly on the former industrial land between First Avenue and Queenborough Creek. The masterplan refers to a range of accommodation from 1-bed properties through to 4-bed properties. Around 180,000 sq.m. of new employment floorspace is also proposed and planning permission has been granted for a Morrison’s store on part of the site.
Faversham Creek Basin is also undergoing improvements. The aim is the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of around £500,000 excluding indirect benefits. The plan will create around 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.
Air: With the excellent connectivity to London, London City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Southend and Stansted Airports are all easily reachable.
Rail: Trains travel from Faversham railway station to London Victoria and St. Pancras International. In the other direction, trains travel either to Dover Priory via Canterbury East or to Ramsgate via Margate. Since 13 December 2009 Southeastern High-speed links Faversham to HS1 Ebbsfleet International and London Stratford International and London St. Pancras stations.
Road: Connectivity in Swale is good, with the M2 running east-west by-passing Faversham and Sittingbourne.
Bus: The Town is served by a number of bus services, operated by 3 bus companies. Arriva Southern Counties, Stagecoach East Kent and Regent Coaches.
Sittingbourne and the surrounding area have a number of primary schools. The main secondary schools in the town are Fulston Manor School, Sittingbourne Community College and The Westlands School.
Grammar Schools include Borden Grammar School (Boys) and Highstead Grammar School (Girls) The grammar schools select children at age 11 using the Kent Test, an 11+ exam.
Notable Institutions include Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, a selective co-educational grammar school with approximately 850 students. It was formed in 1967 by the merger of Faversham Grammar School for Boys, the William Gibbs School for Girls and the Wreight School.
The Abbey School is a Business and Enterprise Academy formed in September 1983 by the amalgamation of the Ethelbert Road Boys School and Lady Capel School for Girls. It has over 1000 pupils and is located in the south of the town.
Sittingbourne Adult Education Centre provides some post-16 and adult training in the town. The College is run by Kent Adult Education and has colleges in Ashford, Canterbury, Dartford, Deal, Dover, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Shepway, Swale, Thanet, Tonbridge & Malling and Tonbridge Wells. There is also an Adult Skills centre located in the town centre.
Shops & Leisure
Shopping & Dining: Swale has a blend of small independent shops with some of the High Street stores you would expect to see. The town centre’s of Faversham, Sheerness and Sittingbourne all offer a great range of local stores as well as some top retailers. With some villages offering farm shops and a range of local produce. All three towns are market towns where you can not only find a bargain but enjoy the hustle and bustle of a market place.
Culture: Fleur De Lis Heritage Centre Museum has more than 2000 years of history, from Vikings to Victorians and beyond. Housed partly in the 15th century former public house, you will not only see the past but feel involved as the story unfolds of Faversham over the centuries. A Victorian schoolroom and kitchen. WW1 & WW2 displays. Find out about the operation which was at the centre of the nation’s explosives industry for 400 years and provided the powder which was used at the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo … and much more.
Green Space: Swale offers a vast variety of outside space. Barton’s Point Coastal Park features forty-acres of outstanding natural beauty, a salt-water lake and a section of the Sheppey Cycle Route, and is the perfect location for camping, bird watching, fishing, geocaching, kite flying, water sports, picnics or dining out in the Boathouse Café. With a 9 hole Pitch and Putt Course, Adventure Playground, Miniature Steam Railway, and community events run on a regular basis, Barton’s Point Coastal Park is fun for all the family!