As the primary business centre within a borough which accounts for some 15% of the GVA (Gross Value Added) of Southeast England, Slough is a major contributor to the region's economy. The town’s solid microeconomy is worth GBP2.5 billion, fuelled by the finance, IT, digital and environmental technology sectors, and is home to more European headquarters than anywhere else in the UK. The prime reason many businesses select Slough as their base is the town’s accessibility to London, the rest of the UK and the world via the major trunk roads of the M25, M4, M3 and M40 and its 15-minute journey time to Heathrow.
The success of Slough's economy was born a century ago, when the world’s first trading estate was established in the town. Activity in the area exploded following World War II and by 1950 some 240 manufacturers had opened over 600 local factories and warehouses. Slough Trading Estate is still going strong today, and is now the largest single privately owned such entity in Europe and home to 400 business that employ over 17,000 people.
This is just a small slice of the wider Slough business economy however, which claims over 4,000 companies with some 83,000 employees. This robust economic backbone played a key role in the town’s ability to weather the recession.
Notable businesses in twenty-first century Slough include such household names as O2, Virgin Media, Honda and GlaxoSmithKline. A number of leading Chinese technology companies, such as Hytera, Huawei and ZTE, have also recently moved into Slough. But for many, Slough is better known as the setting of the award-winning television comedy the Office, which often poked fun at the town’s not-so-vibrant reputation. What shouldn’t be overlooked however is the fact that Slough was chosen as the archetypal setting for a close-up look at the day-to-day life of a British business because of its status as a key hub for British industry.
Such economic strength is what has allowed Slough to undertake such an ambitious, expansive and costly regeneration programme. The Heart of Slough scheme is tasked with revitalising this small town for the modern age.
The project began with the design, construction and 2011 opening of the new Slough Bus Station. A striking structure for the town centre from award-winning architects, it was the first of many steps in Slough’s new agenda of modernisation. The same architects are now responsible for the Curve, Slough’s new cultural hub. Home to a library, adult education facilities, cafes and a town cultural centre, this new landmark has been planned as the flagship of the town’s transformation.
Set to open in 2015, the Curve will also provide a pedestrian link between the new bus station and Mackenzie Square, offering visitors easier and safer access to a town centre that is set to see a landmark new office quarter that will provide some 375,000 square feet of new business space to meet the growing demands of the local economy. A vibrant pedestianised restaurant quarter will also soon be in place as the project seeks to reenergise the old town centre with a more continental approach.
It’s not just the Heart of Slough that will bring the town into the twenty-first century, but other planned infrastructure investment. Slough will be one of the stops along the ambitious Crossrail project, which will link Reading in the west to Shenfield in the east, with 38 stops in between, including 10 new central London stations. Crossrail will provide Slough with a direct link to prime commuter stations in Central London, such as those in the Westend, the City of London and, importantly, the Canary Wharf financial district, while cutting journey times into the city and establishing Slough as an increasingly attractive commuter-belt location. The arrival of this large-scale infrastructure project will add further weight to the town's existing attractions for both international business looking for a home in the UK and property investors looking to leverage its newly enhanced connectivity.
Another proposed infrastructure project would give the town a direct rail route into the world’s most heavily trafficked airport. If the project goes ahead, the Western Rail Access to Heathrow project will be a further draw for businesses and residents, providing Slough with an additional four trains to Heathrow every hour, with a journey time of as little as six minutes when it opens in 2021.
With all that’s going on in Slough, it’s not hard to see why the town is being tipped as a hot market for property investors looking for the UK’s next big growth location. We certainly consider the town a serious investment destination, offering high-quality living and proximity to London, but without the London price tag. Given that, we plan to make our first entry into this increasingly exciting market imminently.
If you’re enticed by the changes afoot for Slough, pleaseto ensure you receive full property details of our upcoming foray into the Slough market.