Weymouth benefits from Olympics bounce

Next year's Games are transforming Weymouth's fortunes
Colourful houses on the waterfront in Weymouth
Weymouth will provide the setting for London Olympics sailing events next summer, helping the Dorset seaside town introduce itself to a global TV audience
Weymouth’s 17th-century harbour feels almost continental with its charming alfresco cafés and serried ranks of sailing boats.

Ever since London won the race to host the 2012 Games, attention and the expectation of property investors has been focused on east London.

But Stratford is not the only Olympic village. Weymouth will play host to the sailing events, and is certain to be under the spotlight thanks to Team GB's prowess in the water.

As a result, this Dorset seaside town is rapidly throwing off its Cinderella reputation, previously pushed out of the way by Poole, and is now rated the fourth best up-and-coming travel destination in the world by the travel website TripAdvisor.

Polly Greenway, managing director of estate agent Domvs, has seen a distinct Olympic bounce: "There is definitely more awareness of the area. Buyers are bringing in larger boats and the second home market is expanding, with people priced out of Sandbanks now attracted to Weymouth, especially because of the Olympics. It used to be the poor relation of Dorchester, but it certainly is not now."

When it comes to the property on offer, Weymouth provides a double whammy of good period homes and affordable prices.

Austin Park, sales manager at Roger McGhee Estate Agents, says a two-bed 1800s harbourside cottage will cost about £225,000, while larger houses by the harbour with up to six bedrooms go up to about £600,000.

A cheaper option is the Park district, with Victorian and Edwardian cottages for sale at about £155,000. Popular areas include Radipole, centred around a lake and nature reserve, where a more modern executive property with four bedrooms costs around £350,000.

One sector that has taken a battering is new-build flats, with Park saying Weymouth is "flooded with flats". So a two-bedroom flat that might have cost £350,000 during the peak is now down to about £250,000.

Weymouth is Georgian, and a good hunting ground for buyers is around Brewers Quay and Trinity Road. With Georgian homes overlooking the harbour, and plenty of cafés and restaurants, the area has a buzzy feel.

A two-bedroom conversion, or a cottage, would cost between £300,000 and £350,000, while a family-size town house would be £500,000.

The smartest address is Greenhill, where wealthy Victorian merchants once built their homes. Today property here sells for about £650,000.

If your tastes are more contemporary, then Bowleaze Coveway — nicknamed the Sandbanks of Weymouth — offers large contemporary houses with great sea views from about £585,000 up to £1.4 million.

While this might sound appealing, the downside for Londoners is the commuting distance. A fast train takes two hours and 46 minutes to Waterloo and an annual season ticket costs £6,288, but Weymouth certainly has plenty of lifestyle benefits.

It sits on a sheltered bay at the mouth of the River Wey, at the gateway to the 95-mile Jurassic Coast. The most obvious nautical attraction is Portland Harbour, home to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, where the 2012 sailing events will be played out and where a new 650-berth marina has been built.

Former navy homes at Osprey Quay, on Portland, are being redeveloped into an athletes' village and will become affordable housing after the Games.

In town, the esplanade is being beautified with new beach huts, a tasteful laser-lighting system, water features and seating areas.

The town's road network is also being upgraded. A bypass opened earlier this year and there are plans for a park-and-ride system and innovations such as smart traffic lights to improve traffic flow.

Weymouth's reputation as a holiday resort is based on its broad expanses of sand. Pretty Bowleaze Cove is half-an-hour away, while famous Chesil Beach is less than four miles from the town and has the fantastic Crab House Café, a seafood restaurant regularly rated one of the best in the UK.

Weymouth town centre boasts two shopping centres, several museums, an aquarium and plenty of restaurants and pubs as well as a busy calendar of special events from firework and kite festivals to dragon boat racing and beach volleyball, but smart nightlife is hard to find.

It's easier to find quieter traditional pubs, such as the Red Lion at Brewers Quay, and excellent restaurants — notably Perrys, a fish restaurant also on the quay — are pretty plentiful.

Finally, parents concerned about local schools need not worry. All Saints' Church of England School is rated "excellent" by Ofsted, and The Wey Valley School is rated "good".

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