What it's like to live in Locks Heath, Sarisbury Green and Whiteley
PUBLISHED: 10:53 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:58 04 April 2017
SBK Property Consultants
It's an often overlooked part of Hampshire - but not any more. Emma Caulton considers life in Locks Heath, Sarisbury Green and Whiteley
Just when you think you’ve discovered the county’s innermost secrets and furthest corners, Hampshire throws you a curve ball. This one in the form of Holly Hill Gardens - hidden in plain sight (I drive past here regularly on my way to the hairdresser’s). Those who live in Locks Heath and Sarisbury Green may shake their heads at my ignorance; they may even roll their eyes and arch an eyebrow, disappointed that I’ve revealed a place they wanted to keep to themselves.
Beyond a sculptured leaf gate under a holly arch is a hidden wonderland: 35 hectares of late Victorian landscaped gardens including lakes and waterfalls, grotto, ornamental trees, ancient semi-natural woodland and a viewpoint over the River Hamble. What a revelation!
Welcome to Locks Heath and Sarisbury Green – obvious yet overlooked. Other glories include Sarisbury Green’s namesake – a pretty village green with a backdrop of colour washed cottages and cricket pavilion (records show cricket matches have been played here since 1774). There’s a playground and tennis courts to one side, and lovely old parish rooms, community hall and church to the other. Stopping by one Sunday morning, I discover a group of dog walkers and parents chatting on the green while their children play. There’s a soothing sense of everything being all right with the world; here at least.
As somewhere to consider for putting down roots, key words are convenience, community, facilities and schools. The M27 runs through the area, north of Locks Heath and south of Whiteley, and so does the Portsmouth to Southampton train line, serving stations at Park Gate and Swanwick (direct to Southampton in 20 minutes or so, over half an hour to Portsmouth).
There’s plenty to do with a plethora of leisure centres and community halls. In Sarisbury Green this includes the spanking new multi million pound Holly Hill Leisure Centre (which only opened last October) and has two pools, gym, cycling studio, dance studio and exercise studio. All very impressive. In comparison Sarisbury Green’s Community Hall may be low tech, but its timetable of activities is a great draw: everything from art to bridge, pre-school to Pilates, plus Jazz on the Green and dancing - ballet, jazz, modern, tap, and old time.
As for houses: there’s a smattering of 18th and 19th century cottages and Victorian and Edwardian villas and terraces. However, it is mostly mid and late 20th century and some more recent development. Quiet Holly Hill Lane is considered particularly sought after, and culminates in prestigious Sarisbury Court.
Neighbouring Locks Heath is home to a decent ‘shopping village’ with Waitrose alongside good independents such as a butcher’s, wine merchant and hardware store. For eats and drinks there’s a coffee shop or two, Strawberry Field Tavern (homage to this area once being strawberry growing country) and a highly praised Italian restaurant, Franco & Paolo. All this, plus library, surgery, pharmacy and trio of community centres. There’s a real sense of self-containment and self-sufficiency here, despite Southampton being nine miles in one direction, Portsmouth 14 miles in the other and Fareham just four miles down the road.
Housing is a hotchpotch of architectural styles and influences with development happening in pockets as and when. The result is that Locks Heath feels unplanned and spread out. Yet it offers good-sized family homes in generous plots on wide roads with a mix of Edwardian red brick juxtaposed against 1960s chalet bungalow alongside 1980s mock Tudor. And you can get a decent amount of house and garden for your money.
Compare and contrast with Whiteley on the other side of the M27 from Sarisbury Green and Locks Heath. There’s a similar self-sufficient vibe going on. But Whiteley itself is emerging as a 21st century take on a new garden town in the middle of woodland - a cohesive, planned development with ‘closes’, ‘crescents’ and ‘ways’ of modern attractive townhouse and mews-style ‘cottages’ grouped around public spaces – leafy play areas, greens with brooks, and copses. At its heart, accessed by a network of footpaths and cycle tracks, is a well-planned pedestrianised glass and cedar clad shopping centre with big name brands such as M&S and H&M. Entertainments include Rock Up climbing activities, cinema, restaurants (Montagu’s to Nando’s, WildWood to Wagamama), leisure centre and recreation ground.
Footpaths and cycleways conveniently extend to more facilities - another community centre, a surgery, Swanwick station and Whiteley Primary, rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. In fact the schooling provision in the area is reassuringly consistent. The bulk are rated ‘Good’ including Locks Heath Junior, Sarisbury Junior, Park Gate Primary, Cornerstone Primary, St John the Baptist Primary and St Anthony’s Catholic Primary. Secondary schools are similar with Brookfield Community School, The Henry Cort School, Oasis Academy and Mayfield all rated ‘Good’.
So, for families this is an area that ticks boxes for study, as well as leisure and pleasure. There are opportunities to take fitness classes or relax in the spa at Solent Hotel & Spa or Skylark Golf and Country Club. You could take to the water – the River Hamble with its marinas and sailing clubs runs beside Lower Swanwick, Bursledon and Sarisbury Green. Or you could simply take time out and discover those hidden pockets of space and calm: a stroll through Gull Coppice Nature Reserve abutting Whiteley or beside the river to a waterside pub, and let’s not forget Holly Hill Gardens.
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