Why Reigate & Fleet are ‘perfectly balanced’ places to live
In this second blog of our series looking at balanced locations, we focus on Reigate and Fleet. These two enchanting towns are brimming with rich history and exceptional greenery. A blend of nostalgia, tranquillity and friendliness, they are south of central London in Surrey and Hampshire counties, making them the closest to London on our list of balanced locations outlined in our report, “Six Pillars of Success: Building Resilient Places”. While inhabitants of both towns are proud to call them home, the criteria they achieved in our report reiterate the reasons why we consider them wonderful places to live.
If you have yet to read our blog that introduces these pillars, we consider a ‘perfectly balanced’ place to meet the following criteria:
- House an appropriate mix of chain and independent retailers at optimal sizes
- Supply unique offline experiences that address the needs of the community
- Provide community infrastructure that supports day-to-day life
- Offers residential properties that meet the community’s needs
- Offers employment opportunities and flexible working spaces
- Encourage time spent outdoors in green spaces
Pillar 1: Representation & proper sizing of independent & chain retailers
Reigate and Fleet both feature a myriad of national chains and independent retailers that take part in annual local activities and events.
In Reigate, national retailers like M&S and Boots are complemented by a range of independent retailers like The Vineking, a wine tasting and dining experience independent merchant, Art of Living, a family-run cook shop and showroom, and a handful of boutique gift shops like The Lemon Tree. Day-to-day convenience shopping is also supported by a large high-street Morrisons, which offers free parking.
Just under an hour from central London, you will find the town of Fleet, an ideal travel connection town for those who regularly commute into the city. Fleet Road, the town’s high street, features an array of independent shops and a mix of both independent and chain restaurants. Hart Shopping Centre houses several known brands and independent retailers. It hosts monthly craft markets that bring the community together to support local, independent businesses.
Pillar 2: Uniquely tailored offline experiences
Reigate has more restaurants than any market of its size, all of which are successful staples in the area. Just off Reigate High Street, you can find the Pilgrim Brewery, an independent retailer that is actively involved in our community’s sports teams and events, and is known among locals as a wonderful spot to gather and socialise.
Pan Asian chain restaurant, Banana Tree, recently opened its door to the Reigate community, joining the likes of Bills, Nando’s and Wagamama on the High Street to further enhance Reigate’s food and beverage offerings. Monte Forte also took up a fixed residency on Reigate High Street after trading from a pizza van that visited the town. After a cozy dinner or a day spent shopping on the High Street, locals can also catch a film at the local Everyman Cinema. With several independent pubs and even a couple of late-night venues catering to the night owls, Reigate’s independent retailers have something for everyone.
Reigate High Street is also involved in several national events throughout the year, from artisan, food and street markets to Pillage the Village around Halloween, an annual Christmas Fayre on Church Street, and most recently, Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park, which featured food stalls, live musicians and renowned chefs from around the country.
Popular cuisine in Fleet tends to be Italian and Indian, with several restaurants a notable hit with locals. For vegetarian options, The Greenhouse Fleet is an independent vegetarian cafe/restaurant with a strong environmental emphasis and diverse selection of palatable meals.
Zinc & Popworld and a variety of local pubs form Fleet’s leisure scene. For a cozy lakeside view and nautical atmosphere, locals can visit the Heron on the Lake pub. The recently redeveloped Hart Leisure Centre now offers a sports facility that doubles as a community gathering spot. For the town’s younger population, a recently opened virtual gaming experience arcade, Chimera VR, has quickly gained popularity.
Pillar 3: Engaging community infrastructure
Reigate’s array of yoga and Pilates studios along with a centrally located gym appeal to locals looking to stay in shape. Many companies or large groups also make use of Priory Park for outdoor fitness classes. To cover local essentials, Reigate houses a Royal Mail delivery office to the north of the High Street, a couple of dry cleaners and a key cutting shop, all of which cover local essentials. A launderette is also situated south of the High Street within a small parade of separate shops, and a Busy Bees nursery can also be found in this vicinity.
For a town of its size, Fleet’s array of amenities and services cater well to the needs of all ages of the local population. It’s home to a large leisure centre that comes with a pool, spaces for squash and indoor sports and a gym. Many of its eco shops like Fleet Scoop, a ‘Zero Waste’ community spirited and environmentally conscious shop along with other local gems that opened just before the Covid-19 pandemic have been warmly embraced by the community and have continued to perform well post-pandemic. There are also plenty of smaller rows of shops outside of the High Street, along with a number of hairdressers and nail salons catering to its residents’ beauty needs.
Pillar 4: Support social cohesion through optimised residential design
Housing in Reigate and Fleet is affordable for those that live in the area, as the higher than national average prices are reflected by respectively higher-than-average earnings. With plenty of private rentals to choose from and hundreds of newly built homes going up in the last few years.
At £1,147 per calendar month, private rentals in Reigate are 24% of average earnings, a smidge below the national average of 25%. Private rentals in Fleet equate to £1,095 per calendar month (or 21% of average earnings), also below the national average of 25%. Fleet has also seen 815 new homes built in the last five years– a growth rate of 4.8% which sits above the national average of 3.8% in the same period.
Fleet has experienced organic growth and periodic development in its housing market. Approximately every 20 years, a new housing development has emerged, including the likes of Ancells Farm Nature Reserve, Zebon Copse, Church Crookham, Elvetham Heath, and the currently under construction Edenbrook. Each estate has brought new retail and food & beverage opportunities with it, such as pubs, community centres, supermarkets, parks and cafes.
Pillar 5: Sufficient & accessible work opportunities for the local population
Reigate and Fleet’s economies are both active, with only 1.7% of the population in both towns being unemployed (below the national average of 2.5%). Fleet Services also employs many locals and acts as a stopover for those travelling from London and the East.
Fleet is home to many managers, directors and senior officials, with over 50% of the population in managerial, administrative and professional occupations. While it has historically been home to many commuters to London, it now houses several business parks, primarily occupied by Information Technology (IT) companies.
In Reigate, 46% of the population are in professional and technical occupations, with a higher-than-average 17% in service industries. There are thousands of companies and hundreds of medium-large-sized businesses that locals can work for, including the UK and European head offices of Willis Towers Watson, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer. While most local employers operate in the private sector, there are public sector opportunities available in the local Council and NHS Trust.
Pillar 6: Appealing open spaces for the community to dwell in
Reigate’s Priory Park just off the High Street offers a great open space to tire the kids out either at the skate park, playground or by strolling along the lake or through the woods. The park hosts many events, including a free park run every Saturday morning that draws in upwards of 200 locals each weekend. It also hosts sporting events like local kids’ football teams, bringing together the community to the town centre.
Fleet’s lush greenery similarly draws in locals– at the heart of the town lies Fleet Pond, connecting various parts of Fleet. The town’s younger population is also catered to through open spaces such as a skatepark in the local park, The Views.
To learn how our six property pillars can help ensure you are creating resilient places, please speak to one of our Placemaking and Property experts.