New homes along the Oxford Parkway to London line with less than a 60-minute commute - Bicester, Guildford, Etchingham and Chelmsford

With a new rail link to Oxford just opened commuters have new rural options to consider. Here's the commuter hotspots within a 60-minute commute from the city...
This week saw the opening of the Oxford Parkway to London line, the first new rail link between the capital and a major British city in more than a century.
Since railway expansion led to the creation of suburbs and commuter towns, Londoners have grappled with the relationship between house prices and travelling distances. The new line increases the options for buyers seeking a good-value home with a reasonable daily journey time to the capital.
While a recent report revealed that Oxford is the UK’s most unaffordable city, nearby Bicester — famous for its fashion outlet village — has been named as one of the region’s best-value spots. The market town is a big beneficiary of the new rail link, with journey times to Marylebone station cut by 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
The top commuter spots tempting Londoners to leave the city

Earmarked as a major housing growth area and the proposed location for a new 13,000-home “garden city”, there is plenty about Bicester to excite would-be commuters seeking new and spacious homes that would be unaffordable in London.
Kingsmere is a new modern village, being built on former farmland. Rather than a gated estate of boxy, replicated executive homes, it aspires to be a proper community, with a broad range of facilities and amenities including a pub, primary school, GP surgery, shops, sports park and children’s play areas.
Eventually, there will be 2,450 homes at Kingsmere, so the infrastructure needs to be good. Parcels of land are being sold to developers to create clusters of housing in keeping with the design masterplan, of traditional architecture inspired by the region’s country cottages and farmhouses. Saxon Fields is the latest launch, a collection of family houses with gardens, priced from £341,995. Call Bellway on 01869 250957.
Heyford Park, a redevelopment of a former RAF base near Bicester, is a similar community in the making. Set in 1,231 acres, with a village green and cricket pitch, it will have 700 properties, ranging from two-bedroom starter homes to six-bedroom detached houses. Prices from £267,995. Call Dorchester Living on 01869 238238.
From £267,995: Heyford Park, Bicester, will have 700 homes, a village green and cricket pitch
Gracious living and something special
Sixty minutes one-way is the longest journey time most commuters are prepared to accept. House prices tend to decline steadily as travel times increase — yet it can be quicker getting to a workplace in central London from a well-connected commuter town than from a Zone 4 or 5 address in the capital.
If you add in quality-of-life factors associated with living outside the metropolis, then the commuter belt is compelling, especially when the lacklustre property market means you can get more for your money, even when paying a premium for new build.

Guildford, county town of Surrey, is just off the A3, about 30 miles from London. Regular trains to and from Waterloo take 35 minutes. The commuter property halo, however, extends a further five miles around the town, and includes good-value villages in the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Albury Park, part of the Duke of Northumberland’s 150-acre Surrey estate, is one such address. A dozen grand apartments have been created within a listed mansion, set in five acres of private formal gardens.
This is not the first time the old Jacobean mansion has seen change. In the early 19th century, “God’s architect” Augustus Pugin was tasked with giving the ramshackle house a Gothic-Tudor-style makeover. He added an extra floor and 63 wonderful candlestick chimneys that survive to this day. A later addition is Sir John Soane’s splendid cantilevered staircase in the main hall.
Like Pugin’s chimneys, every apartment is individual, with a unique floorplan, high ceilings, tall windows, lots of original features and outside space. The two biggest homes, each spanning 6,000sq ft, also have a spa and wine room. Prices from £500,000 to £3 million. Call Sotheby’s International on 020 3714 0750.
From £550,000: spacious homes in Victorian Langton Priory, Guildford, on the banks of the River Wey
Langton Priory, situated on the banks of the River Wey, close to Guildford town centre, is another conversion project, offering spacious refurbished apartments in an original Victorian priory, plus new-build apartments alongside. Completion is due early next year, with prices from £550,000. Call Newcourt Residential on 020 7205 2681.
Warm welcome home
London-bound commuters living in the village of Etchingham, East Sussex, demonstrated the power of the people when they helped to raise £150,000 to bring the semi-derelict, listed stationmaster’s house back to life, transforming it into an award-winning bistro and bar. Now they can reward themselves with a comforting glass of wine at the end of a long working day.
Within a 10-minute walk of the station is Parsonage Croft, a collection of 21 farmhouse-style houses built by Millwood Designer Homes, which uses reclaimed materials to give the properties architectural authenticity, and is known for good-quality building.
Set around a new square and next to a new village primary school, the homes are priced from £775,000. Call 01580 388007.
‘It’s like we’re growing with the community’
Well-connected commuter homes to the east of London can be considerably cheaper than those to the west of the capital.
Matthew and Sarah Stringer moved from Kingston upon Thames to Chelmsford, Essex, to buy a big house in a safe and green neighbourhood, where they could put down roots with their children, Charlie and Hollie.
More space: Matthew and Sarah Stringer, with their children Hollie and Charlie. Image: S Saunders / Digital Nation Photography
The couple bought a four-bedroom house with a good-size garden and a roof terrace at Beaulieu Heath, part of a new 3,600-home district that has one of the country’s fastest fibre-optic internet speeds, a boon for home workers such as Sarah.
Matthew, 36, is managing director of a City IT company and his daily commute to Liverpool Street station takes 35 minutes.
“We wanted a new home, so we bought off-plan and were one of the first families to move in,” says Sarah.
“The community is evolving fast. Two primaries and a secondary school are planned, as well as lots of other facilities, parks, play areas and meadows. It feels like we are living in a showpiece ‘model’ town, and growing with the community.”
Three-bedroom houses cost from £399,995. Call 01245 597277.


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