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Family decided to add a bedroom and is glad it did

Accountant works from home and, even when 'normal' returns, he is still going to need fourth bedroom study

With recent figures from the ONS showing that 32% of the workforce is still working remotely instead of at their normal place of work, homebuyers’ priorities are shifting – with space for a study top of the list. Luckily, Michelle Bignell (49) and her husband Mark (51) decided to upsize into a four-bedroom detached home at David Wilson Homes’ Dickens Gate development in Staplehurst, last July – with the fourth bedroom now being used as a study by Mark.

Michelle and Mark have lived in the town for 14 years after relocating from Dartford in search of a rural location to bring up their children Luke (21), who is now at university, and Thomas (16). They were living in a three-bedroom house on the outskirts of Staplehurst, but decided to upsize into a brand new home at Dickens Gate thanks to its convenient location, extra space and low maintenance offering.

Michelle says: “The low maintenance aspect of a new home really appealed to us and it’s been fantastic moving in knowing that we do not need to worry about anything. We benefitted from good incentives, which meant that carpets, flooring and lighting were all included – and we also had our stamp duty paid for!

“We have only moved five minutes away from our old home, but the location of Dickens Gate is so much better as it’s right in the village – everything we need is now within walking distance, rather than needing to hop in the car to drive to the local shops or train station.”

An example of a study area in one of the Dickens Gate show homes. It’s not Mark’s by the way

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mark was regularly commuting to his job in London as an accountant during the week. Like many employees, Mark found himself working from home for an extended period of time – and is now likely to return to the office just once or twice a week.

“When we originally moved to Staplehurst, a big consideration for us was the connections to London. Luckily, Staplehurst is less than an hour from the capital by train, so it’s really convenient for when Mark needs to travel into work,” says Michelle. “For the majority of the week, however, he will be working from home – and this is where our fourth bedroom comes into its own! Mark has a fantastic separate space to work upstairs, and we have excellent WiFi connections throughout the house, making working from home seamless.”

Natalie Perry, sales and marketing director at David Wilson Kent, says: “Unsurprisingly, we have seen a huge demand recently for larger family homes that can accommodate a work from home space – whether this is in the form of a traditional downstairs study, or creative use of additional rooms upstairs. Locations such as Staplehurst are desirable for commuters with flexible working arrangements, as families can enjoy a countryside lifestyle yet reach London directly in less than an hour.”

The Bignell family have strong roots in Staplehurst, with Luke and Thomas both attending school in the village. For Michelle, it’s the sense of community that make Staplehurst appeal. “When we had children, we wanted more of a country feel – and we love that about Staplehurst,” says Michelle. “The village has grown over the years, but it still has a village aspect to it, and there is a real tightknit community – everyone looks out for each other. Dickens Gate offers an extension to this community, and all the residents are so friendly.”

Dickens Gate is set among open spaces and retained wildlife areas, with play areas and allotments once the development is complete. The village has a number of local amenities, including a local convenience store, shops, local pub, small library, butchers, international cuisine, and a medical centre. There are plans for a Sainsbury’s later this year.

The development is a 15-minute walk from the station, from which London Bridge can be reached in less than an hour. Maidstone is around 25 minutes away by car via the A229, while Tonbridge is around half an hour away via the A229 and A21.

Currently available is a collection of four-bedroom homes starting from £512,995. There is also one home available that is exempt from the current stamp duty savings.

To find out more about Dickens Gate, or to book an appointment, visit here or call 0333 355 8503.


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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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