Buy here, make money
In part two of our series, Ruth Bloomfield reveals more Top 20 commuter spots outside London offering good value and price growth
WHILE property price rises have been patchy in London, in the home counties it’s a rosier picture. The yawning gulf in prices beyond the M25 and within London is keeping demand steady and capital growth healthy in locations with well- priced family homes.
Looking at the 20 best-performing commuter options within an hour’s train journey of London, based on data from Hamptons International, Homes & Property focuses this week on a historic cathedral city, two country villages and an on-the-up outpost of the Thames Estuary. Each of these very different locations has enjoyed eight per cent price growth in the last 12 months. Average property price: £235,645 Price increase since 2007: 40 per cent Average price for a house: £263,962 Train journey time: 38 minutes
PART historic town, part regeneration hotspot, this small cathedral city ticks all the boxes with a surprisingly quick commute. Rochester is famous as the setting for several Charles Dickens novels and it attracts its share of tourists thanks to its good looks, the skyline dominated by the castle and the cathedral, and streets full of tea shops and gastropubs.
The High Street passes the independent shopping test, with boutiques, antiques shops and art galleries, while the monthly flea market is a great place for vintage finds and local crafts. And, sitting at the point where the North Downs and Kent Downs collide, there is countryside aplenty, with the the seaside at Whitstable a 30-mile drive away.
Rochester Grammar School, for girls, and Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, a boys’ grammar, are Ofsted “outstanding”.
Homes vary from new-build flats to some really beautiful historic houses around the castle and a range of very solid Victorian homes, all very handy for the station. Expect to pay about £210,000 for a modern two-bedroom flat, £230,000 to £260,000 for a three-bedroom Victorian terrace and up to £700,000 for a grand Victorian detached house in the town centre with five to six bedrooms.
Alongside its traditional charms, Rochester is also the focal point for hundreds of millions of pounds of inward investment. London commuters are already feeling the benefit of their new £26 million station, and the 52-acre Rochester Riverside where 1,400 new homes will be built over the next 10 to 15 years in a new community with shops, restaurants and a school. Developer Countryside and housing association Hyde put in an application for planning consent for this vast project this summer. A decision is expected in the next few months and the scheme will take about 12 years. Average property price: £414,014 Price increase since 2007: 44 per cent Average price for a house: £494,191 Train journey time: 41 minutes
THE neighbouring villages of Stanstead St Margarets and Stanstead Abbotts, both served by St Margarets station, are on opposite banks of the River Lee Navigation in east Hertfordshire.
They also share a school and a small but useful high street with a couple of neighbourhood restaurants. St Andrews CE (VC) Primary School is rated “good” by Ofsted. On sunny afternoons there are few nicer spots than the riverside patio garden at the Jolly Fisherman inn. Lucky villagers who have a mooring at Stanstead Marina spend their downtime pottering up and down the river.
Between the towns of Ware and Hoddesdon, the villages have so far avoided faceless urban sprawl. Their setting within the Lee Valley Regional Park puts first-rate sports facilities, from horse riding to cycling and white water rafting, on the doorstep.
A direct line to Liverpool Street station makes the villages popular with City workers. Almost the first “true” villages for commuters heading north out of London, they offer value and a real community. There are old cottages, modern executive homes and manor houses. A three-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian house will be about £400,000. If you want a good view of the river you’ll pay a premium of about 15 per cent for the privilege.
modern flats on the Thames Estuary at Grays in Essex, left, and the Lee Navigation at St Margarets, Herts
Sense of history: a view at dusk across the River Medway of Rochester Castle and the cathedral