Homeowners in Tonbridge are seeing the value of their properties increase at a rapid rate, defying regional trends.
The latest figures released by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council through its updated household projections report show that the average price for a detached house in the borough has grown by £48,500 in just one year.
This constitutes an 11 per cent growth between 2014 and 2015 and the report notes that it is ‘much higher than the increase seen in other areas’.
Such a rise is a double-edged sword for Tonbridge residents, as renters are finding monthly rates becoming less affordable.
In September, the average rent was £850 per calendar month, but by March 2016 this average figure had risen to £930.
The borough council report acknowledges that this is ‘notably higher than prices elsewhere in Kent’.
When compared to Maidstone and Ashford, Tonbridge has the least affordable rents when average income is taken into account.
The figures have come as no surprise to those who work in the Tonbridge housing market.
Robert Gordon-James, a Director of Martin & Co (Tonbridge), has noticed a shift in the demographics of people moving into the area.
He said: “The latest figures from Tonbridge & Malling have confirmed what we have experienced over the last couple of years.
“We have seen a rising demand for accommodation in the private sector as more people move out of London suburbs. They have been attracted here by the convenience of the commute from Tonbridge to London, matched with greater affordability than locations nearer to the capital.
“As a result, we are seeing an influx of young professionals choosing Tonbridge as their home.”
John Handley, CEO of The Bridge Trust, the Tonbridge-based charity that houses homeless people with the aim of getting them into their own accommodation, is concerned by the recent developments in the town’s proprty market.
He told the Times that the increase in house prices is ‘extremely evident in West Kent’, with it becoming ‘almost impossible’ for their clients to afford to rent in Tonbridge.
“Often their only income is the Local Housing Allowance, which is significantly lower than the market rents.
“We have a perfect storm of rising costs in renting and people receiving less and less benefits. It is extremely worrying,” he said.