The wonder of the waterside
Homes overlooking the sea, river or canal command a pricey premium. Lauren Davidson finds the most sought-after views in the UK
‘British demand for living near the water is insatiable’
It may be known as the green and pleasant land, but England has just as much reason to boast about its bits of blue.
The areas near the shores of this island are estimated to play home to around 30 million people, or nearly half of the UK population. In fact, no spot in the UK is more than 70 miles from the coast – and undoubtedly much closer to the thousands of miles of rivers, lakes and canals that dot and weave their way through the country.
Considering this abundance of land on the waterfront, you might think that homes with a view of the blue are a dime a dozen. But some areas are more desirable than others.
Ocean views command the highest price premium of waterside locations, according to research for the Telegraph by the estate agency Jackson-Stops & Staff. The average sale price of a property that looks out on to the sea is £475,486, 30 per cent more than homes in coastal locations without a view. River vistas, with an average house price of £315,453, add 24 per cent to the value of a property, while canalside homes go for £276,172 on average, a markup of 18 per cent.
“The aspiration of owning a home with a view across water and living near features such as the ocean, rivers and canals has long been embedded in the British psyche,” says Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops & Staff. “As an island we are surrounded by water and our demand for living near it is insatiable. As such, all views across water in all the locations we analysed generated a strong house price premium for the homes they benefit, without exception.”
The most desirable view of the ocean is in Rock and Padstow, the fishing villages that flank the Camel estuary on the north-west coast of Cornwall. Homes with a window on to the waves fetch a typical price of £487,500, which is 68 per cent more than the average price for the area.
This comes as no surprise to Anthony Hambly, a retired doctor, who is selling a three-bedroom cottage in nearby Port Isaac that has been in his family for 500 years. His ancestors, the Trevan family, were coastguards in the 18th century, and several local points of interest – such as Trevan Point, part of the National Trust coastline – are named after them.
“It’s right in the middle of an exceptional coastline – from Padstow to Boscastle is probably the best bit of coastline in the country,” says Hambly, 68. “It has the most fantastic view. It looks down on to the harbour and out over the breakwater, straight on to the Atlantic. It’s a really outstanding location, quite unique really.”
The White House, which is Grade II listed and brings in around £30,000 a year as a holiday let, is £795,000 (01392 247657; knightfrank.co.uk).
The Dorset seaside follows closely behind this strip of Cornish coastline when it comes to the most desirable ocean views, judging by price premiums. Properties overlooking the water in Poole cost 67 per cent more than the average house price for the area, and those in nearby Bridport command a premium of 54 per cent.
“Homes with views of the ocean generated by far the greatest uplift – but it’s not just about the views,” Leeming says. “These homes generate substantial premiums because of the lifestyle benefits that accompany them. Walking, sailing, surfing and swimming are favourite British pastimes and, with a focus on healthy living, never before has it been more in fashion to live in an area which affords a lifestyle of this type.”
All these amenities are still available to locals who don’t have a view of the water, he notes. “Savvy buyers might also consider investing in a property a road or two back, which offers access without the hefty pricetag.”
While homes with sea views have the highest average price hikes overall. the single most desirable waterside location in the UK is on the riverbanks around the Burnham Market area.
A property with a river view in this nook of North Norfolk – known by many as Chelsea-on-Sea – will cost, on average, 87 per cent more than nearby homes without this advantage. Of course, as well as having views over the River Burn, it is also only a couple of miles from the coast.
“Purchasers in North Norfolk are buying into a lifestyle,” says Tim Hayward, director at Jackson-Stops & Staff ’s branch in Burnham Market. “It has become a top-class destination not only for holiday-home owners but increasingly for those looking to escape the rat race and escape to the country. It’s not unusual to spot a celebrity or two, and as a result of its
increased popularity we’re now finding the area is thriving with independent boutiques, art galleries and award-winning restaurants.”
For riverside living in the area, it doesn’t come much better than The Watermill, a Grade II listed home with a fully functioning mill and original mechanisms still intact, which is one of only 500 residential watermills in the country. The renovated fourbedroom house, which straddles the River Burn, comes with fishing rights to the trout-filled mill pond. Its boathouse has been converted into a dining room, with waterside views on all sides, which leads out to the decked riverside entertaining area. It is on the market for £1.6 million (01328 801333; jackson-stops.co.uk).
Moving down around the east coast of the UK, Ipswich offers the second most sought-after water view in the country, with a 74 per cent premium for homes with sight of the river.
Duncan Foster and his wife, Cara, bought a plot of land on the outskirts of nearby Woodbridge in 2006 and spent six years building a fourbedroom house on the River Deben. They are selling it for £1.2 million as they have moved to be nearer their daughter’s school (01473 218218; jackson-stops.co.uk).
“There are only three properties in the whole of Woodbridge that front the water – and one of them is ours,” says Foster, 48. “I knew that being on the river was always going to add value to the property, but it was more about having that for myself. It’s just a shame we’ve had to leave it.”
Waters Edge offers panoramic views from its roof, accessed through the master bedroom mezzanine, and the garden leads directly to a private jetty with mooring rights.
“The deck at the bottom of the garden is right on the river – you can dangle your feet in the water at high tide,” Foster says. “Every year we do fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and put them right on the water so everybody is looking over the river. It is just idyllic in terms of views.”
But you don’t have to leave the city to live right on the water. When it comes to canal homes, it’s not London’s Little Venice or the luxury loops of the Thames that pile the most pounds onto property prices.
The massive regeneration project in Birmingham is paying off, with canal views in the UK’s second city adding 35 per cent to the cost of a home. While London’s canalside properties are three times more expensive than Birmingham’s, at £638,043, this is just 18 per cent higher than the alreadydear average property price for the area.
“Little Venice is perhaps one of the UK’s most beautiful canal locations, but the Birmingham canal navigations are also a real sight to behold, with the entire system adding up to 100 miles of canals,” Leeming says. “The surroundings teem with wildlife. Often populated by narrowboats, the sense of community on a canal is usually very high.”
High tide: Duncan and Cara Foster are selling Waters Edge, on the River Deben, for £1.2 million, above and below (01473 218218; jacksonstops.co.uk); The White House in Port Isaac is £795,000, main (01392 248517; knightfrank.co.uk)
Energy boost: the Watermill, near Burnham Market, is £1.6 million, cover and above (01328 801333; jacksonstops.co.uk)