The Economic Geography of the Gatwick Diamond

The Gatwick Diamond is a strong performer in the UK economy but its success also brings pressures

The Gatwick Diamond (which includes the districts of Crawley, Epsom & Ewell, Horsham, Mid Sussex, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead and Tandridge) is one of the South East’s strongest economies. But growth brings with it a number of pressures too, which need to be managed to maintain the success of the area.

This report measures the performance of the Gatwick Diamond compared to four others areas in the South East, benchmarking its success and setting out some of the policy challenges for the future.

Key findings

The Gatwick Diamond performs well above the national average on a range of different economic indicators, such as its levels of productivity, its share of high-skilled jobs, and its track record at attracting in foreign investment.

Different parts of the Gatwick Diamond make different contributions towards this success. Crawley has the largest concentration of jobs, and this is driven by Manor Royal and Gatwick airport, which account for 12 per cent of jobs despite occupying only one per cent of land. Behind these two sites, a number of other areas also make important contributions to the Gatwick Diamond economy, both in terms of total number of jobs and the different activities they undertake.

Compared to the Thames Valley and South East Midlands Areas, a noticeable difference is the contribution that the city centres make in the respective areas. The city centres of both Reading and Milton Keynes account for the highest shares of jobs in their respective areas despite covering very small parts of the total land area. No urban centre within the Gatwick Diamond plays such a role to the same extent. So while the Diamond’s business parks play a big role in the success of the economy, its urban centres have the potential to help increase the number of job opportunities available to residents in the area.

The success of the Gatwick Diamond also brings with it pressures, as is the case in other successful economies. This report highlights two clearly – the pressures of Permitted Development Rights to convert commercial space into residential in areas where there is high demand for both, and costs on housing, driven both by the success of the Diamond and its close proximity to London and its appeal as somewhere to live for those looking to commute into the capital.