Spotlight on Redhill and Reigate
Take your pick pretty streets or fast trains to London
Sitting in a gap in the North Downs, a few miles south of the M25 and 24 miles from central London, Redhill is a busy railway and road junction that owes its existence first to a toll road that opened in 1818, then to the railway, which arrived a few years later in 1844.
Redhill is a new town compared with Reigate, which was given to a Norman baron after the Battle of Hastings. The Normans built a castle there and later, in the 13th century, the canons of the Order of St Augustine established a priory to the south of the town.
Redhill and Reigate are the closest of neighbours but retain distinct characters, with Reigate winning in the popularity stakes. Too many of Redhill’s older buildings were demolished in the Sixties and later and, despite pedestrianisation of some streets, its town centre has a tired look, prompting the local council to embark on a regeneration programme.
Reigate, by contrast, is thriving. Traffic may rush past its old town hall but its pretty high street has some top-name fashion retailers and plenty of independent shops and cafés.
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Houses and flats for sale in Redhill and Reigate
Estate agent Louis Winterbourne, at the Reigate branch of Savills, says that homes in the Reigate RH2 postcode will always be more expensive than those in the Redhill RH1 postcode, with homes in RH2 selling for around £375 a square foot compared to £300 a square foot in RH1.
The most expensive houses are found in the roads to the north of Reigate. Here, Savills is selling Tangley in Underhill Park Road, an eight-bedroom, late-Victorian house for £2.25 million. Another popular area in Reigate is around Wray Common, where large Twenties houses can sell for up to £1.5 million.
Elsewhere there is a mix of period houses and cottages in the villages scattered along the A25, such as Betchworth, Nutfield and Bletchingley. In Reigate itself there is a mix of Victorian, Edwardian and later houses with some new blocks of flats built along Reigate Hill. In Redhill there is a similar mix although with a bias towards newer and smaller homes. St John’s to the south of the town is pretty enclave of period cottages south of Redhill Common with a notable church.
The redevelopment of the Royal Earlsfield Hospital, also to the south of the town, has spacious flats in the converted Victorian hospital buildings and new town houses.
Transport and commuting: Reigate and Redhill are close to junction 7/8 of the M25 and the M23, so they offer easy access to both Heathrow and Gatwick.
Trains from Redhill take around 35 minutes to Victoria or London Bridge, slightly longer to Blackfriars. There are direct trains from Reigate to London Bridge which take around 45 minutes, but for Victoria, passengers change at Redhill. An annual season ticket from Redhill costs £2,540.
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Who buys here?
Families move from south London to Reigate for the schools. Redhill attracts families whose budgets don’t stretch to Reigate, though there is also a strong local market.
Staying power: it is not uncommon for families to move further out into the country or to the coast once their children have left for university.
Renting: Charlotte Howard, lettings manager at Savills’ Reigate office, is kept busy with families from London who want to rent before they buy. “I’ve even had a couple of cases recently of families who have gone on to buy the houses they were renting,” she says.
Best streets: the private roads to the north of Reigate, such Coppice Lane, Underhill Park Road and Beech Road, are the most sought after. Pilgrims Way, Alma Road and Alders Road, north of the town centre, are also popular. In Redhill, Crosslands Road has large Edwardian houses.
Redhill: top five high-value streets
Reigate: top five high-value streets
New-build homes in Redhill: Water Colour is a large Linden Homes development around an old gravel pit which has been transformed into an attractive lake.
Built in a New England style, the development of more than 550 (25 per cent affordable) new flats and houses lies north-east of Redhill town centre. There are four-bedroom townhouses available in the current phase, with prices starting at £449,000. A new phase to be launched later in the year will have one- and two-bedroom flats starting at £165,000.
Schools: Reigate and Redhill offer a choice of private and state schools. There are a number of top performing state primary schools which are judged “outstanding” by Ofsted. These are: Reigate Priory (ages seven to 11) in Bell Street; Reigate CofE Infants (ages five to seven) in Blackborough Road; Holmesdale Infants (ages three to seven) in Alma Road; Dovers Green Infants (ages five to seven) in Rushetts Road; St John’s in Pendleton Road in Earlswood; Earlswood Infants (ages three to seven) in St John’s Road.
The best performing state secondary school is Reigate School (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Pendleton Road, in Earlswood. The sixth form college, Reigate College is in Castlefield Road. Both Reigate School and Reigate College are judged “outstanding”.
The two top private schools are Reigate Grammar (co-ed, ages two to 18) - which includes Reigate St Mary’s, the local choir school – and Dunottar (girls, ages two and a half to 18) in High Trees Road. Micklefield (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Somers Road and the Hawthorns (co-ed, ages two to 13) in Pendell Court, Bletchingley, are the two private prep schools.
Shops and restaurants: Reigate has an attractive town centre with a good choice of women’s fashion boutiques – Jigsaw, Whistles and Phase 8 are all present – as well as independent shops. Knights of Reigate is a department store, now owned by a small chain of Surrey-based department stores, while butcher Robert & Edwards occupies a lovely colonnaded shop.
The chain restaurants such as Carluccio’s, Strada and Pizza Express are here, but there are independent cafés too, such as the Vintage Tea House and Urban Kitchen. Ready, Steady, Cook chef Tony Tobin occupies a restaurant called The Dining Room above Prezzo. La Barbe is a popular French restaurant in Bell Street.
Redhill is getting a facelift which includes a new square and imaginative new planting, but it still can’t disguise the fact that the Belfry shopping centre is struggling with empty shops and a preponderance of cheap chain stores, although there is a branch of Marks & Spencer. Sainsbury’s has recently received planning permission to expand its existing stored from 27,500sq ft to 80,000sq ft. The one bright spot is a thrice weekly market on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Home Cottage is a stylish pub restaurant on Redstone Hill.
Open space: Priory Park is a big, hilly park behind Reigate’s high street and both towns have access to acres of commons, including Earlswood Common on Redhill’s outskirts, and long walks along the North Downs and Greensand Way.
Leisure and the arts
The Harlequin in the centre of Redhill has a cinema and also a theatre which puts on a mix of live music, drama, dance and children’s shows. The Donyngs Leisure Centre in Linkfield Lane, Redhill, has had a £4 million refurbishment and offers a gym specially designed for 11 to 15 year-olds as well as a swimming pool.
Reigate is riddled with caves which are occasionally opened to the public by the Wealden Cave and Mine Society. Situated under the castle mound in the centre of town, they are evidence of ancient sand extraction. The next open day is Saturday 11 May.
Council: Banstead and Reigate borough council (Conservative controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,546.98.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE:
What have a comic actor, a singer, a survival expert and a DJ got in common?
David Walliams, Mike Sammes of the Mike Sammes singers fame, Ray Mears and Norman Cook all attended Reigate Grammar School.
Redhill was one of the few places in England to mine Fuller’s Earth, a clay-like substance which was originally used by fullers to clean sheep’s wool, from whence came the surname Fuller. The factory which closed in 1996 was situated east of the town centre and the derelict works can still be seen today.
Average prices: Buying flats and houses in Redhill
Average prices: renting flats and houses in Redhill
One-bedroom flat: £500 to £1,000 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £750 to £1,500 a month
Two-bedroom house: £750 to £1,500 a month
Three-bedroom house: £1,000 to £2,100 a month
Four-bedroom house: £1,500 to £3,500 a month
Five-bedroom-plus house: £2,200 to £5,500 a month
Average prices: Buying flats and houses in Reigate
Average prices: renting flats and houses in Reigate
One-bedroom flat: £800 to £1,000 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £1,000 to £1,500 a month
Two-bedroom house: £1,000 to £2,000 a month
Three-bedroom house: £1,200 to £2,200 a month
Four-bedroom house: £1,700 to £2,500 a month
Five-bedroom-plus house: £2,000 to £4,000 a month
Photographs by Graham Hussey