Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Love Affair with its 4,700 Terraced Houses


Call me old fashioned, but I do like the terraced house.   In fact, I have done some research that I hope you will find of interest my Royal Tunbridge Wells property market blog reading friends!

In architecture terms, a terraced or townhouse is a style of housing in use since the late 1600’s in the UK, where a row of symmetrical / identical houses share their side walls. The first terraced houses were actually built by a French man, Monsieur Barbon around St. Paul’s Cathedral within the rebuilding process after the Great Fire of London in 1666.  Interestingly, it was the French that invented the terraced house around 1610-15 in the Le Marais district of Paris with its planned squares and properties with identical facades. However, it was the 1730’s in the UK, that the terraced/townhouse came into its own in London and of course in Bath with the impressive Royal Crescent.



However, we are in Royal Tunbridge Wells, not Bath, so the majority of our Royal Tunbridge Wells terraced houses were built in the Victorian era.  Built on the back of the Industrial Revolution, with people flooding into the towns and cities for work in Victorian times, the terraced house offered decent livable accommodation away from the slums. An interesting fact is that the majority of Victorian Royal Tunbridge Wells terraced houses are based on standard design of a ‘posh’ front room, a back room (where the family lived day to day) and scullery off that.  Off the scullery, a door to a rear yard, whilst upstairs, three bedrooms (the third straight off the second).  Interestingly, the law was changed in 1875 with the Public Health Act and each house had to have 108ft of livable space per main room, running water, it’s own outside toilet and rear access to allow the toilet waste to be collected (they didn’t have public sewers in those days in Royal Tunbridge Wells – well not at least where these ‘workers’ terraced houses were built).

It was the 1960’s and 70’s where inside toilets and bathrooms were installed (often in that third bedroom or an extension off the scullery) and gas central heating in the 1980’s and replacement Upvc double glazing ever since.

Looking at the make up of all the properties in Royal Tunbridge Wells, some very interesting numbers appear.  Of the 26,061 properties in Royal Tunbridge Wells …

5,086 are Detached properties (19.5%)
6,509 are Semi Detached properties (24.9%)
4,742 are Terraced / Town House properties (18.2%)
9,720 are Apartment/ Flat’s (37.3%)

And quite noteworthy, there are 4 mobile homes, representing 0.02% of all property in Royal Tunbridge Wells. 

When it comes to values, the average price paid for a Royal Tunbridge Wells terraced house in 1995 was £56,700 and the latest set of figures released by the land Registry states that today that figure stands at £327,590, a rise of 478% - not bad when you consider semi-detached properties in Royal Tunbridge Wells in the same time frame have only risen by 364%.

But then a lot of buy to let landlords and first time buyers I speak to think the Victorian terraced house is expensive to maintain.  I recently read a report from English Heritage that stated maintaining a typical Victorian terraced house over thirty years is around sixty percent cheaper than building and maintaining a modern house- which is quite fascinating don’t you think!

Don’t dismiss the humble terraced house – especially in Royal Tunbridge Wells!  

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