Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jurassic Spark; [Pounds Sterling]1.5million: If Only the Best Will Do, Rock Cottage Is the Deceptively Humble Name of This Listed Edwardian Six-Bedroom Thatched Beachside Villa in Sidmouth. Call Harrison-Lavers & Potbury's on 01395 516633

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jurassic Spark; [Pounds Sterling]1.5million: If Only the Best Will Do, Rock Cottage Is the Deceptively Humble Name of This Listed Edwardian Six-Bedroom Thatched Beachside Villa in Sidmouth. Call Harrison-Lavers & Potbury's on 01395 516633

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosalind Russell

THE Regency terraces of Sidmouth and Lyme Regis used to be the preserve of the genteel retired. Fortunately for both towns and the villages along the fossil-rich Jurassic Coast between them a combination of good planning policy and luck has allowed the area to become as attractive to younger buyers as to their grandparents.

Typical buyers in Sidmouth and Lyme Regis are now in their mid-fifties, rather than newly retired, and young families are arriving, too, tempted by the lifestyle these towns offer and the fast rail connections to London.

Local councils have blocked over-development along the coastline and have managed to keep local communities active year round, with few restaurants or hotels closing in winter. There has been strong resistance to high-street charity shops, and local affluence means plenty of money is spent in independent boutiques. Smart paintwork and hanging baskets help keep up appearances in village centres.

"Sidmouth is now a balanced community, with a hospital, theatre, cinema and sports hall," says Mike Lavers of estate agents Harrison Lavers & Potburys, which sells to London buyers. "There are not so many second homes as you would expect. However, in the past five or six years, property prices at the lower end of the market have doubled, making it more difficult, even now, for local youngsters to buy.

"There are departments stores in the town, a Waitrose and a Tesco. These wouldn't exist if the town didn't work all year round." Linda Anstey of estate agent Knight Frank says tourist hordes are easily avoided in high summer.

"The coastline becomes manic in July and August," she says. "But two miles inland you wouldn't know that any tourists were around." Tour coaches, packed car parks and caravans are a fact of life in summer in the visitor hotspots, of course. The biggest bugbear for local estate agents, apparently, are bored visitors on dull days who cheekily ask to be shown around properties they have no intention of buying.

There were fewer of these this year.

By the end of the summer, however, residents and their dogs begin to have this stretch of the Jurassic Coast and its paths and beaches to themselves.

And, at any time of the year, locals rarely have to scramble with tourists to buy the fresh catch landed at fishing villages such as Beer or Brancscombe..

What's on offer

[pounds sterling]620,000: a five-bedroom house with sea views on Sidmouth esplanade. Through Humberts (01404 42456)

[pounds sterling]950,000: Victorian York Villa, Beer, has four bedrooms and self-contained office with sea views. Through Jackson-Stops & Staff (01932 214222)

[pounds sterling]450,000: this three-bedroom cottage in Branscombe overlooks a valley to the sea. Call Fulfords on 01395 578126

All ashore in Branscombe Peaceful Branscombe gained worldwide attention in 2007 when the container ship Napoli spilt its cargo

UNLESS you previously rented a holiday cottage there, you probably first heard of Branscombe almost two years ago when the container ship Napoli beached there spilling 50 containers on to the shore. …

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