£6 billion adds magic to the Medway

The five historic Medway towns clustered around the estuary of the River Medway, halfway along the north Kent coast, are a worthwhile hunting ground for first-time buyers
Townhouses at the Boatyard, Maidstone
£190,000: The Boatyard at Maidstone includes 10 affordable townhouses. Call Cluttons (01622 607406)
Transport upgrades (both road and rail) have dramatically reduced journey times to London to about 40 minutes, while a £6 billion regeneration programme is greatly improving the lifestyle on offer.

Yet, despite this, property values remain low by Home Counties standards: new-build prices start at less than £120,000 at Victory Pier, a waterside scheme in Gillingham, for example Medway Renaissance is a coordinated project aiming to transform eight miles of riverfront that links Chatham, Rochester, Rainham and Strood (the other four Medway towns) into an 8,000-home "linear city", bringing Docklands living to the Medway, drawing on its maritime heritage with nautical theme architecture.

Victory Pier, a mixed residential and retail development by Berkeley Homes, is being built alongside the harbour wall and a new floating art gallery, and will have a hotel and moorings, too. The first phase, called The Boathouse, with 124 riverfront apartments, launches next month. Call 01634 565000.

Chatham is at the centre of the action, with high-rise apartments and family houses being built alongside a protected Georgian quarter, a new 300-berth marina and retail complex plus leisure attractions such as the popular Dickens World.

The Quays is a group of waterfront buildings including a glass tower and comprising 334 flats, from studios to penthouses. Byrne Estates, the developer, has punched above its weight to deliver good-value homes starting at £119,500 and rising to £650,000. Call 01634 890594.

Flat at St Mary's Island, Chatham
£125,000: Flats at St Mary's Island, Chatham. Call Countryside Properties (01634 891200)
St Mary's Island, formerly part of Chatham naval base, has been transformed into a 150-acre eco-friendly estate. Traditional Kentish-style is mixed with contemporary architecture: bold colours, timber cladding, sun decks, steeply pitched roofs. And there are splendid water views.

Eventually 5,000 people will live there. A new phase called Riverside Quarter has been launched. Apartments from £125,000; houses from £235,000. Call Countryside Properties on 01634 891200.

The River Medway runs through Maidstone, where a niche development, The Boatyard, with 10 affordable modern-design townhouses have been built on the riverbank. Prices from £190,000. Call Cluttons on 01622 607406.

Other Kentish towns are benefiting from regeneration and the improved rail links. Nine-hundred new homes are planned for one of them, Canterbury.

Kingsbrook Park is an edge-of-town scheme of 264 homes bordered by the River Stour and with views of Canterbury Cathedral. Berkeley Homes is building traditional-style Kentish properties — weatherboarded and rendered facades. Prices from £239,950. Call 01227 477100.

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