Kent's capital Maidstone hits the spot for commuters
Posted 27 February 2017 by Fiona Brandhorst
Maidstone is the county town of Kent surrounded by traditional Kentish villages, good schools and fast commuter trains to London, which is just 32 miles away.
Three stations, Maidstone West, Maidstone East and Maidstone Barracks, serve the town providing fast services to London Victoria in just over an hour and St Pancras in 53 minutes.
The River Medway runs through the centre of the town linking it with Rochester and the Thames Estuary. The river was once a route for the town’s agricultural, paper, stone, brewing and cloth industries. There has been a military presence since 1798 and the Invicta Park Barracks is now home to the 36 Engineer Regiment. Maidstone Prison is north of the town centre. Maidstone Hospital has a range of specialist units including A&E and maternity while Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery is a £95m private hospital.
The town retains a number of historic buildings including the Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone Museum and the Corn Exchange which houses the Hazlitt Theatre. Most of the housing in Central Maidstone is Victorian terraced cottages and townhouses. Larger homes are found on the outskirts. The surrounding picturesque villages of Bearsted, West Malling, Loose, Boxley, Aylesford and Sutton Valence are popular with families and commuters and a number of national housebuilders are building family homes in the local vernacular on the outskirts of Maidstone.
Maidstone is known for its shopping with the Maidstone Mall offering high street stores and a monthly craft fair. Bank Street is a quaint street of shops and eateries. Fremlin Walk is a riverside shopping centre with House of Fraser alongside chain stores and restaurants built on the site of the old brewery. Upmarket independent specialist shops can be found in the Royal Star Arcade in the centre of the town. Newnham Court Shopping Village is just outside the town with home, garden, pet retailers and restaurants. Maidstone Market at Lockmeadow takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Throughout the week there are numerous events held within the Market Hall including household auctions and boot fairs. Maidstone Farmers' Market is held in Jubilee Square on the 4th Friday of every month selling fresh, local, affordable produce from some of the region's most acclaimed companies.
Maidstone Leisure Centre has five swimming pools, a two storey state-of-the-art fitness suite, sports hall, rock climbing, children’s soft play area and a 1,200 seated event hall offering a wide range of leisure activities. There is a multi-screen Odeon cinema in the Lockmeadow Entertainment Centre. Mote Park is popular for boating, fishing, football and cycling and the Maidstone Millennium River Park offers six miles of paths alongside the River Medway. Maidstone United plays home games at the Gallagher Stadium while the Maidstone Rugby Club was formed in 1880 and is among the oldest in the country playing at the Mote Cricket Ground.
Many families move to Maidstone for the schools. State primaries include Brunswick, Park Way and Allington. There are four grammar schools in Maidstone including the Invicta Grammar for girls and Maidstone Grammar for boys. Non-selective schools include Cornwallis Academy, Maplesden Noakes and New Line Learning Academy. Special schools include Five Acre Wood and Bower Grove. There’s a good choice of independent schools serving the area including co-educational Sutton Valence Prep and secondary schools and Shernold Prep. Higher and Further Education is available at Mid-Kent College.
Road access to London and the Kent coast is good via the M20 and M2. The Channel Tunnel is 37 miles away reached in 42 minutes. Gatwick is 43 miles (52 minutes) and Heathrow 60 miles (68 minutes).
A monthly season ticket to London Victoria from Maidstone East costs £477 (£4,968 annually) with the fastest journey time of 68 minutes. Trains to London St Pancras from Maidstone West take 53 minutes £477 (£4,968 annually); Bromley South takes 40 minutes (£328 monthly, £3,416 annually).
Here’s a round-up of great new homes to buy in Maidstone:
Saxon Place (Barratt Homes) - Two spectacular show homes have recently been unveiled at this Harrietsham development less than eight miles from Maidstone. Featuring traditional architecture and contemporary interiors the 69 two-, three- and four-bedroom homes have Kentish-style village vernaculars inspired by the local area. Prices start from £294,995. For further details visit www.barratthomes.co.uk; 0844 777 0032. Find out more about Saxon Place from Barratt Homes
Willow Grange (Countryside) - Situated in the popular village of Coxheath just a four mile drive from Maidstone which is less than an hour from London by train, this collection of 66 houses is designed in two-, three- and four-bedroom layouts ideal for families and couples alike. Prices start from £275,000. For further sales information visit www.countryside-properties.com ; 01622 747269
The Old Orchard, The Kent Collection (Millwood Designer Homes) - Three individually designed developments set to launch this month. Windsor Meadow in Marden, The Old Orchard in Sutton Valence and Brambledown in Loose Valley, Maidstone, offer a range of two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom homes from chalet bungalows to spacious detached homes. Prices from £315,000. For more information visit www.millwooddesignerhomes.co.uk ; 01622 832576
Edge (Bellway) – This collection of 69 new homes includes houses and apartments ranging from two to four bedrooms. London can be reached in around an hour from Maidstone by train attracting local buyers as well as new residents looking to commute. Prices start from £365,000. For more information visit www.bellway.co.uk ; 0845 5483032
Mote House (Audley) - Situated in the 450-acre splendour of Mote Park with its magnificent woodland and a 30-acre lake, Audley Mote House is a luxury retirement development of 101 cottages and apartments near the village of Bearsted, just a short drive from Maidstone town centre. It won Gold for Best Retirement Development at the WhatHouse? Awards 2012. Prices from £349,950. Further details from www.audleyretirement.co.uk ; 01622 230921