When the Dixon family moved from Epsom in Surrey to Poole on the south Dorset coast last month, their boat was in the driveway even before their furniture was in the house. The sailing-crazy family bought a five-bedroom house in the Parkstone area, just a 15-minute bike ride from the harbor yacht club.
“Covid made us move here sooner than we thought,” says Katie Dixon, who works at the City of London. As a child, Dixon vacationed in Sandbanks, a nearby peninsula which over the past decades has become home to some of the UK’s most flashy real estate outside of London.
But that was not an option for the Dixons. “With school trips and station access to consider, this wouldn’t be a convenient place to live full time. We have the beach on our doorstep anyway.
Sandbanks is often a point of contact that draws people to the area west of Bournemouth. Bordered by large waterfront homes that overlook a sandy beach, it’s the UK’s closest to Palm Beach, Florida, albeit on a much smaller scale and lacking a tropical climate.
Ownership on Sandbanks has attracted a premium for many years, which has persuaded some to look beyond the peninsula to other areas around the harbor. The average house price in Sandbanks in 2020 was £ 1,180,247, according to Savills Research, but you’ll pay at least £ 3.5million for a waterfront house.
Sean Gibson, Residential Manager at the local Savills branch, says, “Sandbanks is the name that drives shoppers to the area, but when they come here, walk around, they see what other areas have to offer. Plus, not everyone has the budget for this spectacular waterfront setting.
The area immediately north of the peninsula that offers easy port access and more affordable accommodation is Lilliput. Prices in postcode BH14 8 – which includes Lilliput and adjacent Whitecliff – have been rising steadily since 2013 and increasing at a faster rate than neighboring BH13 7 (Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs, the affluent area in the northeast of the peninsula) .
Over the past five years the average price in Lilliput has increased by 20% – from £ 556,540 to £ 666,550 – according to Hamptons using land register data, while in BH13 7 it has fallen by -2 % from £ 973,970 to £ 956,640. . Both areas are considerably more expensive than the more industrial port areas closer to Poole, where the average price is £ 278,230 (BH15 1).
Lilliput looks across the water – the shallow harbor is dotted with boarders and windsurfers on a windy day – to Brownsea Island, the harbor’s largest island, owned by the National Trust. Many homes are within walking distance of two marinas. On one of them, Salterns Marina, an old hotel is being demolished to make way for a new boutique hotel and 65 apartments. The project is expected to be completed by 2023.
Schools and sailing are the main engines of families, Gibson says. As well as offering the easiest access to yacht clubs, the independent Bournemouth Collegiate School (where the two Dixon children enrolled) and the excellent Ofsted-rated Lilliput Infant School are key attractions.
“Last week I saw 14 visits to a three-bedroom chalet bungalow dated for £ 699,950 that ended up selling for £ 30,000 above asking price,” he says.
Much of the new demand is from families moving out of Greater London, but Lilliput has long drawn downsizers and empty nests, with the Parkstone Golf Club nearby, award-winning pastry shop by Mark Bennett and a branch of John Lewis among its benefits.
Business mentor Max Wright thought this was the perfect place for a semi-retirement to play tennis and explore boating. Eight years ago he and his wife moved from Surrey to a five bedroom house. “We realized we could get the type of house we wanted for £ 150,000-200,000 less than it would cost Canford Cliffs,” he says.
“We love the cafes and community vibe of Lilliput, but we also love being within walking distance of the Rick Stein restaurant and the Jazz Café. [on Sandbanks] – walking around the harbor is a great round trip.
Having never sailed before, the couple joined the Parkstone Bay Marina Boat Club condominium program, where members borrow one of the fleet’s cruisers or zodiacs without the hassle of exclusive ownership.
“One of our favorites is heading out of the harbor along the Jurassic Coast towards Studland, past Old Harry Rocks [chalk stacks on the tip of the coastline] – a 2.5 hour trip. Taking a boat for lunch at The Hut – a popular seaside restaurant in Colwell Bay on the Isle of Wight – is another.
The appetite for poking around in boats is such that one of the region’s new projects, The port, is offering the use of a 7m Sealegs RIB, paddleboards and kayaks to buyers of the nine new waterfront apartments in the Evening Hill neighborhood of Lilliput. Named by locals who consider it the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the harbor towards the Purbeck Hills, this is the part closest to Lilliput from Sandbanks.
The three-bedroom apartments at The Harbor cost between £ 1.495 million and £ 2.795million, and three of the nine have already been booked ahead of their completion in 2022, said Ashley Faull of Waterfall Developments. “There is currently a demand for places with great views, water access and very fast Wi-Fi,” he says.
Adrian Dunford of local real estate agent Tailor Made, who sold the properties, said the project and another new waterfront development in Evening Hill called Infinity – a nine-apartment building of which eight were sold on plan since June 2020 – achieved higher values than two years ago. “In 2019, £ 1,100 to £ 1,200 per square foot was typical. These sell for between £ 1,500 and £ 1,600 per square foot. “
Downsizer Bettina Gould looked inland to get more for her money and a garden, when she moved from Stanmore to north-west London three months ago. She and her husband Keith bought a two-bedroom apartment in Parkstone (BH14 9), where the average sale price over the past year was £ 465,320, according to Hamptons.
Easy access to train lines to London for his two-day-a-week work in the City was crucial. “My family had a vacation apartment in Sandbanks, so I’ve always loved the area,” says Bettina, 53. “We wanted a less hectic life and Covid made us think – why wait? I like to take boat trips to the small islands in the harbor.
She also considered Canford Cliffs, but the prices were higher. This area sits above the beach and offers an alternative to Sandbanks for those seeking more peace and privacy, with the ‘village’ of Canford Cliffs – as the locals call it – a hub of restaurants and amenities at its heart.
Branksome Park is a pocket of the Canford Cliffs popular for its large plots divided by pockets of towering Monterey pines. Former football manager Harry Redknapp is among those who recently moved from Sandbanks (last year he filmed an ITV series, Harry Redknapp’s Sandbanks Summer, featuring his old house on the peninsula).
“If you want an acre garden and don’t want to see your neighbor, then Canford Cliffs is a better bet,” says architect Mark Robinson, who adds that the Sandbanks properties require certain tactical design features. such as walls and ha-has to control eyesight.
Ben Horne of buying agent Middleton Advisors agrees that Sandbanks is not for everyone. “I have four clients looking for a home on the South Coast, but I ruled out Sandbanks due to lack of privacy. Also, in the summer there are long lines for the car chain ferry to Studland from the tip of the peninsula, blocking the aisles of people.
Adrian Dunford says the Sandbanks market is far from dead, and many of the recent sales go unrecorded as they are second homes owned by a limited liability company. The agency sold 112 properties on Sandbanks between May 2020 [when the market opened up] and June 2021, compared to 39 housing units for the whole of 2019.
“Have this unique view and go out on a beach that belongs only to you for 85% of the year [when tourists are absent] will never go out of style. He says last month an English cash buyer bought a property for £ 4.6million and was in such a rush he traded and completed within 48 hours without investigation or research.
It seems that sea level rise may not have been in the foreground of this buyer’s mind. Katie Dixon felt differently: “Another reason I didn’t want to buy on Sandbanks was the fear that if the water goes up, the prices might go down.
The Port of Poole is one of the largest natural harbors in the world, with ferries leaving for Cherbourg and St Malo in France (4.5h) and the Channel Islands. London is a 2.5 hour drive or a 2 hour direct train ride which also stops at Parkstone, Branksome and Bournemouth.
The average price reached in January-April 2021 at Sandbanks was £ 956,640, according to data from Hamptons; at Whitecliff & Lilliput it was £ 666,550.
The council tax in 2021/22 for the BCP Council (Bournemouth / Christchurch / Poole) for a property in the D band is £ 1,877 per year.
What you can buy. . .
£ 1.65m A contemporary four bedroom home in Evening Hill. The architect-designed house is less than 1.4 km from Sandbanks Beach and 270 m from Poole Harbor. Features include a cinema room and curved glass panes in the master bedroom and living room. For sale with Tailored.
£ 5.695m A four bedroom, three story waterfront home on Pearce Avenue, Lilliput. The property offers views of Poole Harbor and Brownsea Island. Features include a hot tub and access via the south-west facing garden to a private jetty, slipway and boathouse. Available via Lloyds Real Estate Group.
£ 10million A six bedroom, three story waterfront home on Panorama Road, Sandbanks. The main house has 873 m² of living space including a library, a multimedia room, a gym, dressing rooms and an indoor swimming pool. The property has a separate three-bedroom pavilion. On the market with Fine & Country.