Potentially the single biggest factor driving economic development in Canterbury over the next few years will be the new high-speed rail link to London. With a journey time of just 57 minutes (down from 100 minutes), Canterbury is now a genuine commuter town for the first time in its history. We are realistic that London’s high-value service sector increasingly dominates the British economy and that the wealth of provincial cities like Canterbury will depend in large measure on access to the London economy. The fact that residents can earn money in London, which they bring back home to Canterbury where they consume most of their goods and services, will be highly beneficial to the local economy. In this context, we look forward to an expansion of the rail service and the opportunity for Canterbury to tap London’s immense wealth.
However, the rail link creates challenges which must be properly managed. A proportion of the new population in Canterbury over the next few years will be incomers who work in London. It will be important to have sufficient housing to reduce cross-town traffic to the station. Conversely, the ease with which people can travel from London to Canterbury means that the City must improve its provision of amenities and provide quality accommodation to encourage visitors to stay overnight rather than making just a day trip.