I nipped out for a walk the other morning as dawn broke around the Rochester Riverside Development – a significant new development for the Medway towns that will bring 1,400 new homes to the local area.
My curiosity drove me as I wandered around the part-developed site, taking in the view of a mixture of large detached, semi-detached, and rows of newly built houses, contrasted against large swathes of unbuilt land and a sizeable patch of land in construction. I snapped this photo which shows the development phases:
Phase 1 & 2 is pretty much built, with Phase 3 in construction. Phases 4, 5, 6, and 7 remain grassy unbuilt areas of land surrounding the Castle View Business park. The views of the River Medway are calming and pleasant on the eye.
This development of houses is visually smack-bang next to Rochester Station! With the high-speed rail and high house prices in London, the Medway Towns are an excellent and affordable option for commuters who may be priced out of the London property market.
In addition, the increase in home working due to Covid-19 will further drive the demand for local properties. Rochester Riverside Development is situated right next to the station and will, therefore, be hugely attractive to the “London commuter” demographic.
The development is a flagship project in Medway Council’s regeneration scheme ‘Medway 2035’ and is being developed in seven phases. Plans for the £419m development were submitted in 2017 and planning has been granted so far for phases one to three, with construction having started in February 2018.
The scheme has a planned completion date of 2030 and the principal contractor is Countryside who is working with Hyde to deliver the scheme. In addition to the 1,400 homes, the Rochester Riverside Development will provide a comprehensive range of community facilities including a primary school, retail space, a hotel, and over ten acres of green, open space.
I’d be hugely interested to hear your thoughts about the scheme and what effect it will have on the local housing market.
About phases 1-3
Phases 1 – 3 provide 489 new homes, a school, a new hotel and 885sq m of commercial space including a Co-Op and Costa Coffee. Construction started in February 2018 and the majority of available homes have already sold. The image below outlines phases one to three. These will be the first to be completed, with a timeline to the end of 2022.
There are several different types of property currently being built and I was able to secure a viewing of one of the properties called ‘The Dunlin’, which is a four-bedroom townhouse and is marketed at around £565k.
The Dunlin is certainly finished to an extremely high standard which reflects the rest of the development! There is the option to buy this property with or without a balcony.
I wanted to highlight one of the premium properties which is a five-bedroom detached property with some incredible views. All these sold for around £650k before a brochure was even produced!
I think this speed of sale, despite the higher price tag, reflects the strong level of interest in the development and you need to get an offer in early to buy off-plan if you want to purchase something from the future phases.
I snapped the pictures below of the luxury five-bedroom house and view whilst I was passing (property to the left and view to the right).
In addition to the four and five-bedroom properties, there is a three-bedroom property called ‘The Horsted’; all of these have now sold, however. There is also a selection of one or two-bedroom flats including shared ownership and build to rent; all of these have now sold and were marketed from £220k.
I took a few photos as I walked around the development and they will give you an example of the standard of finish.
Some Interesting Facts About The Development
Following my viewing of The Dunlin, I was able to have an in-depth conversation with the sales team and gained some interesting insights about the future phases of the development and I’ll be keeping a close eye on these as construction progresses!
Castle View Business Park – This business park is located in the centre of the development, however, the majority of the units are owned by a single owner who is refusing to sell. Therefore, the development is building around them for now.
Rumours of a retirement village – Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the developer was in talks with a company for a section of one of the future phases include a retirement village. This may now be off the table, due to the recent pandemic, however, nothing can be said for certain at this stage.
There are issues with a limited amount of commercial space – There has been quite a lot of talk about there not being enough commercial space on the development. Whilst there is a Co-Op and Costa Coffee, it will be interesting to see how this develops.
The marketing suite was rejected by the NHS as a health clinic – With a development of this size, there will undoubtedly be added pressure on local health services, however the NHS rejected proposals to turn the marketing suite into a health centre as they would not be able to staff it. There is a rumour that it could be turned into a gym, but time will tell on this!
Flooding risk – The developer had to raise the land to lessen flooding risk, however there is one section that was unable to be built on due to it having an increased flooding risk. This will be developed into a green space and a park area rather than more residential property
Flats or houses? – Phases 2 – 7 included more flats, however as the development began to sell, demand was for houses. Therefore, plans have been adapted to increase the number of houses and develop less flats.
Beautiful walking space – There is going to be a scenic path around hugging the edges of the development which will provide a great opportunity for the public and local residents to enjoy a walk.
10+ years to go! – The development won’t be fully completed for around another 10 years!
I believe that this development, whilst sold at a premium, is a big indication of Rochester’s future potential. The majority of people who have purchased are aged 25 – 40 and properties are selling extremely quickly.
This reflects the strong potential of the area and with the brilliant links from Rochester Station to London, I learned, from spending time with the sales team, that a large percentage of buyers are London commuters who expect to now work from home for the foreseeable future. In addition, it is interesting that there are a number of teachers who have purchased properties as well!
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this development and the impact you feel it will have on the local area – both positive or negative. I will be publishing a follow-up blog about Rochester in general as I feel that the area’s future potential is very exciting for property investors.
As always, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have in relation to your property investments – and don’t forget to let me know your thoughts regarding the Green Homes Grant Scheme. The best way to contact me is via LinkedIn.