NEWINGTON The countryside does try to breathe here, but is soon submerged by Sittingbourne. Newington is thought to be more rural, but in fact it is bisected by the busy A2 and is beginning to merge at one end with Sittingbourne and at the other end with Hartlip. A two-up-two-down terrace will cost about £120,000; a modern three-bedroom semi close to £160,000. Calloways Lane is particularly smart. A large four-bedroom detached house on up to an acre of ground here would sell for £390,000.
Hartlip, a mile or so to the south-west, is more sought-after. It has a villagey feel and is close to the Medway Towns. This is one of the first conveniently placed, attractive villages that you reach on your way out of London through this part of Kent. The conservation area in the village centre encompasses a handful of listed buildings, 15th-century thatched cottages and a fine, half-timbered, pink-and-white house. The rest is brick and weatherboarding, plus some modern houses built in the Eighties. It is a good address. You will have to pay £480,000 or more for a four- or five-bedroom property with a garden. There is a primary school with about 105 pupils, a church, a Methodist chapel and a village hall. The local parish pump is The Rose And Crown – symbolic of Kent’s reputation as the Garden of England and its allegiance to the Sovereign. The village is friendly to newcomers and used to commuters. The main worry is that Gillingham might burst at the seams and engulf it.