Commuting from Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Frant: homes hotspots along the London-Hastings route

For a quick commute, good schools and extra space, head down the Hastings line.
Commuters returning from holiday to the crowded platforms of Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations can take comfort in the thought that their trains take them through famously lovely countryside to great towns and villages, with attractive homes and grammar schools.
 
On the London to Hastings line, which these two stations serve, there are six options that are less than an hour from the capital.
 
Of the six, Tonbridge in Kent has seen the strongest house price growth in the past year — up 18.8 per cent to an average £324,373, according to exclusive research by Savills.
 
Runner-up is the East Sussex village of Frant, which saw an 8.7 per cent average rise, with another village, Hildenborough, in Kent, in third place with eight per cent.

DISCOVER COMMUTER HOMES ALONG THE LONDON-HASTINGS ROUTE:


Friendly Tonbridge
Often confused with posher neighbour Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge won’t win a beauty parade, but it is a medieval Medway town with a theatre, a country park, two pools — indoor and outdoor — and an athletics club that produced Dame Kelly Holmes.
 
“It is a friendly town, and it is really our schools and trains which attract people,” says Lynne Fermor, a property consultant with Ellis & Co estate agents, who says six in 10 of her buyers are moving out of London.
 
The commute to the capital takes a very reasonable 42 minutes, and an average season ticket costs £3,980.
 
Tonbridge’s housing stock is less glamorous than homes in the commuter town of Sevenoaks, also in West Kent. However, the south side of Tonbridge, close to the station, has Victorian tree-lined avenues — Douglas Road and Priory Street are names to look for.
 
Expect to pay about £260,000 to £270,000 for a two-bedroom terrace and £600,000 to £1 million for a detached house.
 
The south side of Tonbridge also has a great selection of grammar schools, led by The Judd School, Tonbridge Grammar School and Weald of Kent Grammar School. Primary school offerings are less glittering, although St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary School and Woodlands Junior School both get top marks from Ofsted.
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Outdoorsy Frant
Frant, just over the Kentish border into East Sussex, is a pretty, active village with three pubs, a general store, a lovely green and a primary school rated “good” by Ofsted.
 
It is more expensive than Tonbridge — an average house in Frant costs £553,915, while a flat costs about £248,650. The station is a mile away, in Bells Yew Green — the trip to London takes an hour and an annual season ticket costs £4,364.
 
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£465,000: a two-bedroom ground-floor flat with access to open space in Frant
 
The village is perfect for walkers and cyclists, sitting on the edge of the High Weald, and it is close to the National Trust’s Nap Wood.
 
Tonbridge and Frant have outperformed in the past year, but it is Sevenoaks which has rebounded most strongly from the recession.
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Upmarket Sevenoaks
Values in Sevenoaks are up more than 20 per cent on 2007 levels — an average house now costs £670,815, while a flat costs about £298,747.
 
The journey from Sevenoaks to London takes just 33 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £4,364. Trains are fast and the attractive town is set on a hilltop in the North Downs, with an upmarket high street and quality private and state schools.
 
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£1.45 million: listed detached four-bedroom house in 13.7 acres in Wrotham, Sevenoaks
 
Highly regarded primary schools include St Thomas’ Catholic Primary School and Lady Boswell’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.
 
For seniors, Trinity School and Knole Academy both get a “good” report, and most of the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells grammars will accept applications from children living in the town.
 
Knole Park — where six of the town’s original seven oaks were felled by the great storm of 1987 — provides green space, but you can be on the south coast within half an hour.
 
David Johnston, associate director at Savills, says the town has everything except a good independent coffee shop.

 
His clients include buyers from south-west London, who say the journey to the City and Canary Wharf is actually faster from Sevenoaks. This fact has pushed the prices of post-war houses in streets just east of Montreal Park — handy both for the station and Riverhead Infants School, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted — up by about 10 per cent in the past year alone.
 
These “slightly suburban” properties now change hands for between £1 million and £1.5 million. Buyers on a tighter budget could opt for a two-bedroom cottage for about £350,000 to £400,000.
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