THE OUTPERFORMERS: WIN­NER Dork­ing: the spot that’s got the lot

This mar­ket town in the lush Sur­rey Hills is No 1 in our chart of the 20 best-value Lon­don com­muter hotspots. By Ruth Bloom­field

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Commuting -

GOOD- LOOK­ING, sur­rounded by gor­geous coun­try­side, sprin­kled with great schools and of­fer­ing a easy jour­ney to Lon­don, Dork­ing is to­day named top home coun­ties com­muter hotspot of the last year. Add to those at­tributes some fine din­ing, a busy and in­ter­est­ing high street and lash­ings of ru­ral charm, and it’s easy to see why.

The Sur­rey mar­ket town saw out­stand­ing prop­erty price growth of 15 per cent, ac­cord­ing to re­search by Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional com­par­ing the per­for­mance of ev­ery com­muter town and vil­lage within an hour of Lon­don.

It is not as posh or ex­pen­sive as other Sur­rey com­muter hotspots such as Oxshott or Guild­ford but it hits the sweet spot of af­ford­abil­ity and qual­ity. “We are quite a lucky town in that we have a vil­lage feel, a com­mu­nity spirit, and a re­ally quaint town cen­tre with a good va­ri­ety of shops, re­ally close to Lon­don,” says Marc Cox-Mug­gridge, branch man­ager of Barnard Mar­cus.

Dork­ing is cer­tainly ge­o­graph­i­cally blessed, set at the east of the Sur­rey Hills close to the cy­clists’ favourite, Box Hill — also some­thing of a mecca for Jane Austen fans as the lo­ca­tion of the piv­otal pic­nic scene in Emma. But you don’t School and St Paul’s CofE (Aided) Pri­mary School are both rated “out­stand­ing” by Of­sted. There is a choice of two state se­nior schools, both with “good” re­ports from the watch­dog.

The high street is famed for its an­tiques and vin­tage shops and chichi lit­tle bou­tiques, and there is a good leisure cen­tre and pool. Cinema and theatre are found at Dork­ing Halls, which runs an an­nual arts fes­ti­val plus reg­u­lar live mu­sic and com­edy nights, and an an­nual choral mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Dork­ing of­fers good gas­trop­ubs, while restau­rants range from modern fine din­ing at Sor­rel, re­cently opened by Miche­lin-star chef Steve Drake in a lovely 300-year-old build­ing, to Gor­geous Ger­ties, which does a mean Sun­day brunch. Out of town are plenty of nice vil­lage pubs to ex­plore, and Den­bies Wine Es­tate, Eng­land’s largest, of­fers meals, tast­ing and tours.

GAZ­ING INTO THE CRYS­TAL BALL

Jack­son-Stops’ Alan King says the in­flux of Lon­don­ers keeps them on their toes. “We are still a tra­di­tional town, but we are not stuffy. West Street has al­ways been a bit of an an­tiques cen­tre but these have been slowly chang­ing into more art-led shops.”

Whether Dork­ing can main­tain its price growth re­mains to be seen. But Cox- Mug­gridge of Barnard Mar­cus hopes the re­cent abo­li­tion of stamp duty for first-time buyer homes worth less than £300,000 will stim­u­late the mar­ket this year, which he feels will be strong “but not record break­ing”. He thinks that next year will be steady, not spec­tac­u­lar.

Dork­ing price growth this past year was boosted by strong sales at Vista, where two- bed­room flats sold at £280,000-plus. The scheme is 80 per cent sold, prov­ing an ap­petite for flats as well as fam­ily homes in the town.

“I think there are too many ques­tion marks over Brexit and the econ­omy to pre­dict any­thing more this year,” he adds. “On the other hand, Dork­ing’s lim­ited sup­ply will un­der­pin prices.”

£950,000: for “the works” in fam­ily liv­ing, this four-bed­room listed Geor­gian and El­iz­a­bethan house in Lon­don Road has glo­ri­ous in­te­ri­ors and half an acre of gar­dens. Call Hamp­tons (01306 301007)

Mar­ket town charm: West Street in Dork­ing town cen­tre, a must for an­tiques fans

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