The new coastal homes with fast commuter routes

Designer homes are springing up all along the coast from Norfolk and Suffolk to Devon and Cornwall to satisfy London families lured by the sea's siren call.

Londoners are moving to the coast in increasing numbers, prompting the new-build  market to respond with schemes that appeal to thirty- and fortysomethings with urban tastes.

These buyers are not interested in period features, high running costs, old-school technology and poor living spaces for modern family life. These are working families who are not prepared to give up the  high salaries and good job opportunities available in London — which is why they are choosing locations near train stations or a motorway that offer a quick connection from the seaside to the capital.

This trend is proving a shot in the arm for many coastal towns and is creating new hotspots, such as Southbourne in Dorset and Camber Sands in East Sussex, with attractive Blue Flag beaches and opportunites for sports including fashionable surfing and sand kiting.

Architects are flexing their muscles, introducing ultra-modern glass houses, lofts, penthouses with wraparound terraces and hi-tech apartments with underground parking and 24-hour concierge.

Wealth rippling out of London is pushing up prices, of course. There are premiums to pay for waterfront homes in particular. Research by estate agent Knight Frank shows coastal properties typically cost a whopping 56 per cent more those just a few miles inland. A new national planning policy framework puts a brake on a lot of coastal development, so resourceful builders are tracking down derelict sites, disused hotels and land with obvious eyesores, and regenerating them. From Norfolk and Suffolk on the East Anglian coast, around to yachtie Solent territory and further west to Devon and Cornwall, the coast is going designer-cool.




London on sea
“The London look has certainly infiltrated seaside towns and villages,” says George Long of estate agent Savills in Poole, Dorset. “Increasingly, people want sleek modern design, with light-filled interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows and generous outside space.”

Nautica Reach, a scheme of four houses adjoining the beach at Milford on Sea, Hampshire, falls into this category. Rather than bedrooms at the top of the houses, there is an open-plan kitchen and living space, plus a terrace to capitalise on the outstanding sea views. Prices from £1.8 million. Call 01202 492518.

The Kent and Sussex seaside is popular because of the quick escape from London. White Sand, close to the golden dunes of Camber Sands and the picturesque port of Rye in East Sussex, is a development of cottage-type houses, built in a mix of materials and styles to resemble a traditional fishing village, located between grasslands and the beach. Prices from £264,995. Call Ward Homes on 0844 4700 567.

Brighton remains a magnet for Londoners, though its youthful vitality is not to everyone’s liking. Head out of the centre along Marine Drive and you soon arrive at Rottingdean, a former faded retirement enclave that now attracts style-conscious urbanites and young families. Azure is a new clifftop apartment scheme sitting between the beach and the rolling Sussex Downs. Prices from £650,000. Call estate agent Mishon Mackay on 01273 829300.

One-off beachfront houses are also popping up. A striking 4,045sq ft modern house with a garden and swimming pool adjoining Shoreham Beach, along the coast from Brighton, has been launched with a price tag of £2 million. Call Winkworth on 01273 772175.

“If you want direct and uninterrupted views of the sea, but without a price premium, try Southbourne, along the coast from Bournemouth,” says Savills’ George Long. “It’s an emerging hotspot.” Quarterdeck is an Art Deco-style apartment scheme in an unspoilt clifftop setting with views across the Channel to the Isle of Wight. Prices from £525,000. Call 01202 492518.



From £475,000: coastguard-style flats and houses at Gara Rock, on the South West Coast Path between Salcombe and Dartmouth. Call 01548 844473

Devon divas
England’s most popular second-home district is South Hams, Devon, where one in 10 homes is registered as a second property. This area includes Salcombe, at the Kingsbridge Estuary’s mouth.

Music diva Kate Bush is among the 2,000 residents in this year-round resort with fantastic sailing, sandy beaches, lively shops and restaurants. Mew Stone East is a spectacular new-build house perched on an elevated plot with views over the estuary and National Trust land. Price £2.75 million. Call 01392 423111. Gara Rock, on the South West Coast Path between Salcombe and Dartmouth, is a modest but well-located  development of coastguard-style houses and flats, from £475,000. Call March and Petit on 01548 844473.

Cornwall has been reinventing itself in recent years. The region has always enjoyed relatively good weather and now it has smart beachside flats, a trendy surf culture, foodie restaurants, boutique hotels and celeb residents. Better road links and cheap Ryanair flights from London to Newquay have made longer weekending possible.

Away from expensive locations such as Rock, St Mawes and Constantine Bay, a coastal village three miles from Padstow, prices are affordable for most pockets. St Agnes, North Cornwall, is worth investigating. The dramatic coastline is maintained by the National Trust, which has preserved scores of old tin and copper mines. Until a century ago, mining rivalled fishing and farming for jobs and wealth in the area. After generations of decline the local economy is recovering, with tourism the new big business.

At Trevaunance Cove, part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, 10 contemporary lodge-style, low-carbon houses are packed with eco-friendly features. For re-sales and to register for future schemes, call Living Structures on 08448 805709. Lodge-style homes are being built in the grounds of The Cornwall spa hotel close to the Eden Project and Porthpean Beach. Prices from £327,950. Call 01726 879451

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