The area is also one of the best-value in the home counties, making it worthwhile hunting ground for first-time buyers. Property prices remain relatively low due to local industrial demise dating back to the Seventies, but a catching-up process has kicked in with ambitious waterfront regeneration. At smart Docklands-style developments such as Victory Pier in Gillingham, two-bedroom flats cost from £172,000.
Journey times have also been dramatically reduced making the trip to London about 40 minutes in general — or just 17 minutes on the high-speed train from Ebbsfleet.
Chatham is at the centre of the action, where apartments and family houses are being built alongside a protected Georgian quarter, a new 358-berth marina, a retail complex and leisure attractions including Dickens World.
£268,000: for three-bedroom houses in The Fishing Village at St Mary's Island, Chatham. Call 01634 891200
Live in a fishing village
The Quays is a group of waterfront buildings with 332 flats including penthouses in two eye-catching glass-clad towers. Byrne Estates, the developer, has punched above its weight to deliver good-value homes starting at £141,000 and rising to £650,000. Call 01634 890 594.
Affordable family houses are for sale at St Mary’s Island, a former part of Chatham naval base that has been transformed into a 150-acre eco-friendly estate with a school and a GP surgery. Traditional Kentish-style designs are mixed with contemporary architecture — bold colours, timber cladding, sun decks and steeply pitched roofs. And there are splendid water views.
The Fishing Village is the latest phase. Prices start at £268,000 for a three-bedroom house, and Help to Buy, the Government’s low-deposit scheme, is available, meaning a 75 per cent mortgage is required. Call Countryside Properties on 01634 891200.
From £339,000: four-bedroom houses with conservatories and open-plan rooms at Horsted Park, Chatham
At Horsted Park, Chatham, the same developer is selling four-bedroom houses, each with an open-plan family room connected to a fully glazed conservatory that has double doors to the garden. Prices from £339,950. Call 01634 406491. Help to Buy is on offer here, too.
Together the five Medway towns of Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham have 780 listed buildings and 26 conservation areas and are lobbying for Unesco World Heritage status. A co-ordinated £1 billion project is under way to turn eight miles of river frontage into an 8,000-home “linear city”.
Local jobs and homes boost
Victory Pier in Gillingham is a mixed residential and retail scheme on the site of a former chemical works, offering 775 homes, a hotel, a marina, a restored paddle steamer and a floating art gallery. The Boardwalk is the latest phase and has one-bedroom apartments priced from £135,000. Call Berkeley Homes on 01634 565000.
Ashford is a key growth area with a £2.5 billion development strategy in place. It is an ancient market town and becoming a regional business hub on the back of freight and transport improvements. The town’s population is forecast to double during the next 25 years. Local developer Pentland Homes is trying to entice young families from London to its Bluebells scheme of 61 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses. They are priced from £199,995. Call 01303 893080 for more information.