BRIGHTON has metamorphosed into London-on-Sea, having developed an increasingly sophisticated and cosmopolitan air, playing up its strengths as a conference centre and weekend retreat. It is short on domestic gardens and garages, but the frivolity of the Royal Pavilion, the beautifully landscaped parks and the backdrop of the Sussex Downs make it an enviable place to live. The Brighton Festival in May is England’s biggest arts festival. There is a plethora of restaurants and the Theatre Royal attracts plays on their pre-London tours. There has always been a theatrical crowd in Brighton – Lord Olivier once lived there – attracted by the Regency terraced houses of Montpelier. Big seafront townhouses sell at over £1m. Brighton has always been the place to have a flat, and the various building booms of the past few decades have provided plenty, in both purpose-built blocks and large converted houses. There is a boating crowd, too, drawn by the marina, which is undergoing a major regeneration to provide more housing and retail space.
Commuters tend to live within walking distance of the railway station, within half a mile of the seafront, though parking is tortuous. There are various interlocking conservation areas that house-hunters might aim for. North Laine, West Hill and Clifton are close to the station, all now gentrified with boutiques and antiques shops. In the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Conservation Area, a three- to four-bedroom Regency house with distant sea views and a sun room sells for around £650,000. Modern two-bedroom apartments near the station can be bought for around £200,000. For the Regency equivalent in Seven Dials, you could pay £300,000. In the New England Quarter, recently developed on a brownfield site to the east of the station, a one-bedroom ‘eco’ apartment with rooftop allotment costs £200,000.
Millionaires’ Row is at Roedean, beside the girls’ private school and opposite the marina. Large mansions line up to catch the sea breezes and sell for over £1m. A six-bedroom Victorian semi could be bought for £470,000. If you think about buying anything facing the sea, consider the havoc wrought by salt-laden winds on your exterior paintwork.