HORLEY is quite a busy place on the A23, with a population of 22,000. It has a modest pedestrianised high street, and the local comprehensive, Oakwood School, is well-liked. There is a swimming pool at the Horley Anderson Centre, as well as cricket, hockey, bowling and football clubs. Gatwick Airport is a huge local employer. In the sea of Thirties’ semis you could pay between £235,000 and £250,000 for three bedrooms. There are also some Victorian terraces where three-bedroom houses start at around £200,000. The modern Langshott estate, with over 700 houses on it, won awards for landscaping and design when it was built. A five-bedroom detached house here would cost over £350,000. Work has started on building 2,000 to 3,000 new homes in the area over the next ten years.
The village of Charlwood clings on to its rural image, in spite of the fact that Gatwick Airport is only a few miles away. The government announcement a few years ago that Gatwick would not expand towards it lifted a black cloud, though the parish council remains vigilant. Villagers lovingly nurse the large number of listed buildings, which include a Grade One listed Norman church. The village has a newsagent, which also sells fruit and groceries, a pine shop-cum-café and a kitchen shop. There is a school for the under-sevens. People living here have the choice of commuting either from Horley or from Gatwick, where the service is fast and frequent. A brick-built two-bedroom cottage might be bought for £195,000; a third bedroom puts the price up to around £215,000.
Smallfield, to the north east, has been greatly affected by the development of Gatwick. Aircraft noise can be a problem, and the very presence of an airport has allowed more industrial development than there would otherwise have been. It has a burgeoning population, with a good mix of young and old, yet it is a straggly place. A great bonus has been the opening of the Lottery-funded MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) for football, basketball and tennis. Shops include a greengrocer, butcher, and hardware store. Local events take place in the Centenary Village Hall, including regular food and craft markets and the annual village summer party. Prices are similar to those in Horley. A three-bedroom semi-detached house near The Plough pub might sell for £220,000 and a detached three-bedroom house for £225,000 to £250,000. Modern four-bedroom detached houses start at £270,000.