• The Vitality Index identifies towns and cities that have healthy and robust local economies, are best placed to support growth and will provide opportunities for businesses to expand
• Half of the top ten locations are in the south east: Guildford (overall winner), Brighton, Reading, Milton Keynes and Oxford
• Notably, three of the top ten places are in the Thames Valley
Lambert Smith Hampton’s Head of the Thames Valley, Nick Coote, comments: “The Thames Valley is the perfect combination of a location that is accessible to London and also in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Its access to the capital, to the rest of the UK and to the rest of the world is outstanding and is only set to improve. The planned Crossrail development will have as much impact on the region as the building of the M4 did in the 1960s and will ensure that the Thames Valley continues to lead the way for the rest of the 21st century.”
Prosperous commuter town Guildford took the top spot from Cambridge by performing consistently across many categories in the index. It improved its ranking for most productive, most entrepreneurial and fastest growing and came top for most highly educated and most affluent.
Guildford is home to one of the country’s most respected universities and is set to attract considerable investment over the next year or so, including a £150m regeneration scheme based around the railway station.
Reading is building on its reputation as a dynamic commerce hub to rise to fourth overall, making much of its improvement in the most entrepreneurial and most productive categories.
Reading has a firm position near the top of the leader board due to its sophisticated mix of retail, leisure, office and industrial offerings and its retail mall is one of the top ten in the world. The infrastructure investment that is occurring at present will ensure it is set to retain this position, and most likely improve on it, in the years to come.
A new entry for the top 10, Oxford has powered its way into the list at number eight, up from 16 in 2013. In a climate where retail property has seen weak levels of rental growth, Oxford has performed well and had increases in retail brands trading in the city. Oxford also benefits from being an established centre for research and development and from being an attractive location for foreign direct investment.
Plans are in the pipeline for the redevelopment of Westgate Shopping Centre in the city centre, which include around 100 new shops plus residential and leisure space, creating over 3,400 jobs.
The top 10 towns and cities in the 2015 UK Vitality Index are:
6. St Albans
7. Milton Keynes
The ‘UK Vitality Index’ assesses the UK’s largest towns and cities outside London to provide a health check, identifying which have the most robust economies, are best positioned to support growth and will provide the greatest opportunities for businesses to expand.
The results are based on the analysis of 20 datasets, with each city ranked within six separate categories: most productive, fastest growing, most entrepreneurial, best educated, greenest and most affluent.