Hot-spot: Staines, Middlesex

Don't be put off by the moniker of this Thames-side town
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The Independent Online

Blame the name. For a nice if commercially bustling riverside town that comfortably straddles city, country and suburban living, Staines doesn't get the respect it deserves. It also boasts excellent rail and road communications, attractive riverside housing, and quieter, gentler neighbouring villages.

Blame the name. For a nice if commercially bustling riverside town that comfortably straddles city, country and suburban living, Staines doesn't get the respect it deserves. It also boasts excellent rail and road communications, attractive riverside housing, and quieter, gentler neighbouring villages.

Located near Heathrow and with good access to London and the M4 corridor, Staines has plenty of local employers. "British Gas headquarters and Bupa, Sony and McVities offices are here," says Michael Nevin, of Gale & Power estate agents.

"We have enormous potential because of the motorways and rapid link to Waterloo, although not as many large companies moved in as the local council anticipated. Many of the large buildings, designed as corporate headquarters, have now been subdivided and smaller companies are starting to occupy them."

On the back of this activity, the property market thrives. Mr Nevin notes his bailiwick includes properties in Staines itself and houses and cottages in Egham, Laleham, Shepperton and Lower Sunbury.

This market is strong in lettings as well as sales. "Senior staffers of blue chip banks, information technology companies and manufacturers rent here because they don't know how long their tour will be," says Lynne Mayell, of Knight Frank. "The companies are mostly American, but their operatives are from all over the world, and they rent here because of the American school in Egham and Thorpe." Large houses in Englefield Green, near Runnymede and three miles fromStaines, are likely candidates for these temporary occupiers.

Beryl Belmont, of BS Bennett estate agents, says for tenants with more modest demands the demand is highest for one and two-bed properties. "We get many inquiries from people from Hong Kong, Asia, America, and especially Scandinavia. Many people rent first and then buy."

The proximity of Staines to Heathrow helps underpin the area's consistently solid property market. Nick Jolley, area manager for Townends, says, in addition to people moving jobs, another distinct type of buyers are local people who work around or near the airport.

"The local market should remain reasonably buoyant for the long term because of, for example, the building of Terminal 5 at Heathrow with a possible rail link to Staines, and the redevelopment of shopping facilities and offices here," he says.

The Low-Down

Transport

Staines is convenient for the M25, M4 and M3. Airtrack is the proposed rail line which would link Heathrow with Waterloo and Victoria via Staines, with stops at Clapham Junction, Richmond, Twickenham, Feltham, and Ashford.

Prices

One-bed flats start at about £70,000, and four-bed houses in reasonable condition start at £300,000. "Riverside property can have a premium as high as £75,000, depending on the moorings," says Ms Belmont. "But you will have no problems when it comes to selling it."

Properties

The three-bed detached "eyebrow" cottage, with its striking first floor windows set in an arch, is asking £299,950 at Gale & Power, which also has four-bed period houses for £449,950. Knight Frank is letting two-acre Priest Hill Farm in Englefield Green, with its two-bed annexe, paddocks, stable and consent to convert the pool building into a leisure/guest complex." £12,000 per month.

Waterside properties

Five miles from Staines is Shepperton, a riverside town famous for its film studio, where £400,000 buys a four-bed house with a 16ft waterside lounge, and £1m buys a six-bed pile with conservatory, two acres of land and possible mooring rights. Waterview estate agents.

New

In Staines, Swan Hill Homes is releasing 42 townhouses, guide price £275,000 to £325,000. The site will also include 23 apartments. In Wraysbury, three miles from Staines, Persimmon is building townhouses and flats starting at £159,950. Selling agents Gregory Brown (01784 477222).

Shopping

Staines has six main shopping centres, with Debenhams, M&S, Boots, BHS, Next, WH Smith, Woolworths and Waitrose as the "main anchors". The evolving Two Rivers shopping centre has 25 units and the final phase includes a 10-screen multiplex cinema and a Holmes Place health club.

Estate agents

B S Bennett, 01784 483839; Knight Frank (Ascot), 01344 875500; Waterview 020-8398 8550; Gale & Power, 01784 455444; Townends, 01784 455299.

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