Commuter home hotspots in East Sussex: Lewes beats Brighton to top spot for property growth

New research reveals the historic market town of Lewes outdid Brighton - and 11 other commuter hotspots in East Sussex - to top the list for property growth.
Visit East Sussex and you would be forgiven for thinking that all roads must lead to Brighton & Hove. But although the south coast city is an understandably popular choice for London exiles, it is neither the only option nor the top property performer in the county.
Exclusive research by Knight Frank on the 13 towns within East Sussex shows that since the depths of the recession in 2008, Lewes has enjoyed the best recovery, with average prices up to a hefty 29 per cent above the peak, at £348,000.
In Brighton, prices are now 19 per cent higher than in 2008, at an average £285,919.
Charming Lewes
Close to Glyndebourne opera house, Lewes, with its many independent shops, cafés and restaurants, is historic yet still bustles, albeit in a far less frenetic way than ever-busy Brighton.
Lewes sits within the South Downs National Park, but is only 10 miles from the coast, attracting buyers from London and Brighton in search of relatively affordable family homes and schools.


The state schools are not all good, but there are plenty of bright spots. There are a clutch of primaries rated “good” by Ofsted, while Newick CofE gets an “outstanding” report. At senior level both Chailey School and Priory School are considered “good”.
Rush-hour trains can get you to Victoria in just over an hour, though an annual season ticket costs £4,068. The smartest area to buy is The Wallands, just north-west of the town centre, where a four-bedroom Edwardian house can cost £1.2 million.
While Lewes’s medium-term property market has been the star performer, in the past year the strongest price growth in East Sussex has been in Mayfield and Five Ashes villages, which sit side by side in the heart of the High Weald.
Prices have risen 13.4 per cent in 12 months to reach an average £431,007. Brighton, meanwhile, managed an annual price growth of 10.6 per cent.
Unspoilt Mayfield
Mayfield lacks a train station, which has kept it slightly under the commuter radar, but it is a beautiful spot with an unspoilt high street with good independent shops, pubs and a café.
“It is one of the prettiest villages around,” says Charlotte Melrose-Cantouris, a sales negotiator at Savills. “It has got everything you need.”
£1.25 million: a six-bedroom barn conversion and detached annexe in Mayfield

There is a huge mix of property styles in and around Mayfield and Five Ashes, including some good Victorian stock. Expect to pay about £450,000 to £500,000 for a three-bedroom semi and up to £1.3 million for a six-bedroom detached Victorian pile. An edge-of-village manor house with land would cost about £2 million.
Schooling is excellent in Mayfield and Five Ashes. Both have primary schools rated “good” by Ofsted.
The nearest station is five miles away at Crowborough. From here, trains to either London Bridge or Victoria take 70 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £3,740. The alternative is to drive 10 miles to Tunbridge Wells in Kent, where direct trains to Waterloo or Charing Cross take from 51 minutes. An annual season ticket from here costs £5,020.
Why Rye?
If you don’t mind a longer commute and prefer to have the sea on your doorstep, then Rye is a lovely choice.
Property prices in this historic town have soared by 11 per cent to an average £268,639.
£949,000: an eight-bedroom ex-boathouse converted into a guesthouse in Rye
It is hard not to fall in love with Rye’s cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and tempting antique shops, while Winchelsea Beach is nearby. Jason Stubbs, sales manager at Phillips & Stubbs estate agents, estimates that one in four of his buyers are Londoners.

Rye has its fair share of style. In 2006 one of its historic coaching inns, The George, reopened as a smart boutique hotel and restaurant and its success has been infectious.
The Citadel area features stunning timber frame houses. A four-bedroom terrace costs between £500,000 and £600,000, and a two-bedroom cottage between £300,000 and £400,000.

The only downsides are the 90-minute commute to St Pancras — which involves getting a connecting service from Rye to Ashford International — and the price of an annual season ticket, at a whopping £6,748.
Next year the Government will consider proposals to extend the High Speed 1 rail line to Hastings which will help to cut travel times — though not fares — from Rye to London.

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