There are just over 1.8 million people living in Kent and Medway in around 742,000 homes. There are also over 59,000 other properties, such as businesses, schools and hospitals, in an area of just over 3,700 km2. Kent is known as the “Gateway to Europe” – there are 250 miles of motorways and major roads, six ports, four small airports and the Channel Tunnel. More than half of the UK’s goods pass through Dover, and 10,000 foreign lorries travel through Kent each day.
Kent has two major growth areas – Ashford and the Thames Gateway. In the Thames Gateway alone, 17,000 new houses have been built and 4,000 jobs created in the past ten years. By 2026 there will be another 36,000 new homes and 54,000 new jobs. Nearby, the proposed development of the London Paramount entertainment complex includes significant new infrastructure and, if approved, will create a further 27,000 new jobs. In the Ashford area there are plans to build around 15,000 new homes and create 11,000 jobs by 2030. Two further emerging areas of proposed growth include Canterbury and Shepway.
The area is divided into one county authority, with 12 local district authorities, and one unitary authority for Medway. The area is relatively affluent with Kent being one of the least-deprived local authorities nationally, despite having some significant pockets of deprivation such as Thanet – one of the most deprived areas in the country. Life expectancy and the proportion of the population over 70 are both predicted to increase, with a related rise in mobility problems and disability, but the proportion of young people in the county is expected to reduce.
Kent and Medway has a diverse population with a range of ethnic groups, although approximately 89% of people consider themselves White British. There are areas, including Medway and the Thames Gateway, where there are significant communities of Asian-Indian, Black-African and Other White residents. Around 65.5% of people state that they have a religion or belief. Christianity is the most prominent religious group in Kent but there are large numbers of residents who are Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, or have other religious beliefs.