For those who love sailing the south coast of Britain is one of the best places to be based and properties with sea views and berths still command the highest prices in the area, and in the case of some destinations, the country. Seaside towns are 20% more expensive than those inland, and marina property can add much more than that, so the redevelopment of some previously undervalued sites along the south coast was welcome news when it came.
There are 85 official marinas in the UK, from tiny Scottish coves to the pretty harbours in the South West but the south coast appeals to the majority with good amenities, transport links and a headstart to France. Unfortunately in the past the main conurbations along the coast have seemed a little industrial. But now repeated investment and commitment to regeneration has converted many areas from eyesores to hotspots.
Once the naval capital of the UK, Portsmouth’s docks were left to fall into disrepair over successive decades, but a £200m redevelopment in the late 1990s brought much-needed energy and money into the area. Many old and unused buildings were brought down and new ones erected. Now with luxury apartments and shops, cinemas, bars and restaurants, Gunwharf Quays (Berkeley Homes 01403 211240) is an exclusive development in the harbour where penthouses fetch prices unimaginable a decade ago. Beautiful views and proximity to culture and civilisation mean demand is ongoing, particularly for the new tower currently under construction, No. 1 Gunwharf Quays, which is set to hold the title of the tallest residential building on the south coast, and will sit alongside Portsmouth’s famous Spinnaker Tower, the centrepiece of the redevelopment of the area.
Across the bay the Royal Clarence Marina (023 9252 9054) was begun four years ago and now offers one to three bedroom flats in the historic old Royal Navy Victualling Yard which cost around £350,000 for a loft apartment. You can’t buy a berth outright with a property here, although you can jump the queue to rent one. The developers are also planning to build a section of modern townhouses over the next three to four years and it is marketing itself as a more peaceful alternative to the glitz of Gunwharf Quays.
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Southampton has traditionally had a good infrastructure from the commercial shipping which for years supported the area, as opposed to Portsmouth which was the base of the navy. Opportunities for seafront property have been maximised for longer here, and Ocean Village is a particularly in demand development with a good range of price points available, from £200,000 to £1.95m for apartments, and a good three bedroom within the security of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club with a 24ft mooring will set you back £725,000 (Waterside Properties call 02380230101).
Continuing west along the coast, Milford-on-Sea is popular with those who want to escape from large towns to a quieter life. ‘It’s a pretty village with a lovely shingle beach, views of The Needles and The Solent and property there tends to be period houses of a good size when they come up,’ says Michael Riley of Savills. There is no marina here but homeowners tend to park their boats in Lymington which is just four miles away. Lymington itself is world renowned as a sailor’s paradise; there are two large marinas Berthon and Haven and two sailing clubs. The town itself has lots of character but there is a sad lack of actual waterside property – with just two houses with water frontage in the town, the tension between supply and demand becomes somewhat extreme.
Coming up somewhat in the world, moving along the coast further west looms the triumvirate of Branksome Park, Canford Cliffs and Sandbanks where some of the most expensive property per square foot anywhere in the UK is to be found. Branksome Park is popular because there tend to be more houses for sale than in nearby Canford Cliffs, where most of the property is made up of apartments. It also has a gorgeous sandy beach and the tree-lined ridge running right down to the sea which makes the area feel much more rural than some surrounding conurbations, although you need to go into Poole to park your boat.
As anywhere in high demand, the top end of the property market is currently doing extremely well between these three premium areas, as more properties are built to take advantage of the recent boom. Local agent Berkleys just sold their most expensive property ever there, and according to agent John Jennings ‘Demand is constant. It mostly comes from people in London and the home counties but also from people retiring and looking for a better climate in the south of the country: we get plenty of people from Yorkshire and Cumbria looking for a bit of sunshine,’ he says.
Wyatt Homes (01202 668266 ) is currently offering a four bedroom modern home offering direct harbour frontage and stunning views of Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, superbly finished to the highest specification with slipway and boathouse on Sandbanks. The price hasn’t been fixed yet but the property will sell for well in excess of the £1.5m of the previous Wyatt properties on the peninsula.
The range of houses along this part of the coast is large and ranges from roomy Victorian houses, through new build flats built in the 1960s, to brand new apartments all of which appeal to different buyers, but many who have their primary residence here are also gravitate to this area for the of travel, but not necessarily to London. Many residents here have their primary home on the sunny south coast and their second home in the even sunnier Cote d’Azur or on Mallorca as it’s extremely easy to fly out of Bournemouth or Southampton airport to these destinations.
A natural harbour is always more beautiful and Poole is well known to have one of the largest in the world, and as such has always been a desirable place for both a house and a mooring. Moriconium Quay is currently considered a very popular private gated marina community here and is selling well. Built on the site of the original Roman harbour, the quay has been carefully developed over the past decade to provide houses, apartments and penthouses, most with the holy grail of a berth, in one of the best placed areas from which to go sailing on the south coast. Prices have rocketed since the development was launched, and now range from £395,000 for a two bedroom flat with a garden (but no berth) to well over £1m. Waterside Properties (01202 330 555) currently have a three bedroom apartment with an 11ft berth for £695,000, and there is currently a waiting list for larger properties.
Round the coast in Dorset Studland is a relatively popular part of the Jurassic coast still just close enough to London to be commutable, but also well regarded by those in search of a quiet pretty place to moor your boat down at the sailing club, while enjoying seaviews and National Trust nature reserve. It’s an area of great natural beauty and with five miles of sandy beach to enjoy plus historic buildings and wonderful fossils to explore. Local buildings – even the council houses –are made out of Purbeck stone and there is some lovely architecture in this old fashioned Victorian bathing town.
Property here is cheaper again than in Sandbanks or round the coast towards Portsmouth and Southampton, but there are a few exceptional houses, one being an award-winning Huf Haus with staggering views over Studland Bay which has six bedrooms, four bathrooms indoor gym, media room and wine cellar. On the market for £4.25m with Strutt and Parker (01962 869999), this property is quite unique, and a perfect example of some of the spectacular houses which can be found along the south coastline of the country.