Property news: Kent’s seaside towns are the latest property hotspots | Property | Life & Style

We hear a lot about Kent’s high-speed rail link to London and its Eurostar access to the continent; less about the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway.

However, as the RH&DR celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, locals will tell you what an asset it is to the community.

They jump on board to get to the string of beaches along this 13-mile section of the Kent coast; children have used it to get to school in Hythe and even commuters have been known to squeeze into the quarter-sized carriages.

Opened in 1927 with the backing of racing drivers Captain JEP Howey and Count Louis Zborowski, who owned the Chitty Bang Bang Mercedes racing cars (inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), the RH&DR is now the backdrop to a number of developments around Hythe, which is becoming a property hotspot and cheaper alternative to more bohemian Whitstable.

Among these is Martello Lakes, just outside Hythe, built on the site of a quarry and old gravel works and not far from the sea, where the first phase of two, three and four-bedroom homes is now on the market from £199,995 to £359,995 (0844 854 9936;

These are either traditional brick-built or Kent meets New England weatherboard and all come with open-plan living rooms.

“Martello Lakes is a long-term development over a number of years,” says Steven Way, a surveyor for Collier Stevens in Hythe.

“When it is finished it will be something like 500 homes.”

There is no direct access to the sea from the development because of Ministry of Defence ranges nearby, but the beach is only a few minutes’ drive away – as is the RH&DR line to connect residents to other beaches all the way to Dungeness or into Hythe town.

And Hythe itself, long known for its antique shops, but increasingly for its cafés and restaurants, has new developments such as Fisherman’s Beach, a mix of villas and apartments right on the seafront that have been snapped up.

“They are very contemporary,” says Keith Rogans, managing director of CR Child & Partners, the estate agents marketing the project.

There is just one of five villas remaining, on sale for £1.35million, and three apartments left from £485,000 to £495,000 (01303 267421; A number of small sites in the town may also soon be developed.

“I would say the area is very active, both in new-build and second-hand sales,” says Rogans, adding that many attracted to new-builds are downsizers looking to reduce maintenance and energy…

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