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Opening up the Garden of England

WITH the recent fresh spates of sunshine over the City, workers commuting from office to apartment might be thinking longingly uprooting from London for somewhere more rural. With expanding rail links connecting more and more towns to London, property prices are on the up and it’s easier than ever to enjoy the pleasures of the countryside at home while keeping a lid on the length of your commute. So which areas have the perfect combination of transport links, green space and spacious houses to be a good commuter town?

KENT: CHISLEHURST
Just 20 minutes from London Bridge station and half an hour to the City door-to-door, Chislehurst offers a better-value and more convenient alternative to some more popular locations like Richmond and Esher to the west of London. Space is at less of a premium here than in more crowded boroughs closer to the centre, enabling buyers to take advantage of the many large townhouses in the area. Chislehurst also hosts the start of the South East London Green Chain – a chain of parks and open spaces that runs all the way to Greenwich, and its own golf club. Local schools include Beaverwood School for Girls, formerly a grammar school, and Edgebury Primary School, rated outstanding by Ofsted.

KENT: CANTERBURY AND ASHFORD
With the brand new high speed rail linking Ashford to central London within half an hour, and Canterbury in 56 minutes, prices have jumped in Kent and look set to rise as more buyers realise the new train link has opened the “garden of England” to the commuting population of the City. Ashford has been rated the fourth best place to live in Britain due to its pedestrianised central streets and the presence of some of Britain’s few remaining grammar schools. Meanwhile, further down the Stour river, Canterbury offers buyers thousands of years’ history as well as proximity to the sea and, as Sandersons estate agent Malissa Jones describes: “Unlike a lot of the other cities, Canterbury has held onto a lot of independent boutique shops on its cobbled streets”. Centred around its stunning cathedral, the town has a wide range of properties available, from townhouses on tree-lined avenues to old Victorian brick houses inside the ancient city walls. Independent schools in Kent include Tonbridge School, Sevenoaks Schools and Benenden.

HERTFORSHIRE: HERTFORD
Professionals looking for quick access to beautiful countryside could barely do better than Hertford. Locals in the area benefit from scenic walking routes along canals and the four rivers that form a confluence in the town, which also boasts a rich history symbolised by Hertford Castle, home to English Royalty for more than 300 years. The town centre features a pretty square filled with pubs and restaurants and a spacious central common. The famous Haileybury School is nearby and the town’s many primary schools include Abel Smith School, St. Andrew’s School, the prestigious Mill Mead Primary and Hollybush School.

BERKSHIRE: ASCOT
Eastern Berkshire offers buyers all the convenience of a quick rail link to London alongside beautiful countryside and excellent schools. Formerly the home of Ringo Starr and home to the most prestigious racecourse in the country, Ascot is accessible from Waterloo with just a 52-minute train ride. Stunning local villages offer exceptional scenery and world-class restaurants, with The Fat Duck just a short drive away in Bray and The French Horn nearby in Sonning. There is also easy access to the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty for outdoor activities and excellent educational options. Local schools include Charters School, rated outstanding by Ofsted, and the prestigious, independent St George’s School and Papplewick School.


BALLS PARK LUXURY, HERTFORDSHIRE, £549,995
Set in the stunning grounds of Balls Park, this house is one of a range available from the Townsend Collection. The houses are designed in the style of the park’s old mansion and offer underfloor heating, superb sound-proofing, oak finished doors and stone tops in the fully fitted kitchens.

Contact 0207 886 0331. www.exploreliving.co.uk.

ELEGANT TOWNHOUSE, CHISLEHURST, £1.4M
The first development outside central London to adopt the “Belgravia style” this beautiful terrace of Georgian-style townhouses offers 3800 sq ft of living space and close proximity to parks and transport. It is designed by Urban Evolution, the company behind many stylish award-winning venues including the Pantechnicon Rooms, the Thomas Cubbitt and the recently opened The Orange in Pimlico.

Contact 020 7861 1068. www.deneterrace.com.

OPULENT MANSION, CHISLEHURST, £5.5M
This is the most substantial and opulent residence to be built in Chislehurst for over half a century. This magnificent new home, set in nearly an acre of beautifully landscaped grounds, backs onto the 17th fairway of the prestigious Chislehurst Golf Club. It forms part of the historic Camden Park Estate, home in exile in the 1870’s to the French Emperor Napoleon lll. It offers easy access to Chislehurst station and the village centre.

Contact: 020 8295 7234. www.jdmonline.com.

LIGHT AND SPACIOUS APARTMENT, CANTERBURY, £279,995
A short stroll to the city centre, this property is located in the highly desirable area of south Canterbury. If you are looking for a spacious and light living space with two double bedrooms and a large living room, then this could be ideal for you. There are two bathrooms, one ensuite, and allocated parking for a car. This would suit a professional couple looking for an easy commute and good capital growth.

Contact: 01227 784784. www.sandersons.info.