'There’s a desperate need for some investment in Portslade'

Staff at the Railway Inn
Staff at the Railway Inn

As property prices in Brighton and Hove continue to rise, buyers are increasingly moving two miles west to more affordable Portslade.

But according to new residents, the main high street, Boundary Road, strewn with betting, vaping and discount shops, has a long way to go before it can compete with its more prosperous neighbours.

Franklin's Cafe

Franklin's Cafe

Property prices in Portslade have increased by 32 per cent in the last five years according to Zoopla, reflecting its rising popularity.

But the average price paid for a Portslade property is still only £308,003, compared to £445,475 in Hove.

Damien Dunford, manager of Mishon Mackay estate agents in Portslade, explained its value for money appeal: “£400,000 gets you a really nice family home in Portslade, which in Brighton and Hove is a two-bed flat.”

He thinks Portslade’s lower price tag is due to Boundary Road.

Portslade's high street

Portslade's high street

“The high street doesn’t match up to the changing clientele,” he said.

“There’s a lot of discount stores and empty shops. If it got a few upmarket chain stores that would ramp up our prices.”

Mum-of-two Maria Langford said moving from Hove’s George Street to buy a flat in Portslade two years ago was ‘a shock to the system’.

Mrs Langford said she only goes into Portslade when absolutely necessary: “You don’t spend a long time there. You do what you need to do and then you leave. If they opened up some nice places it would make a difference,” she said.

Nima Bakhtiar opened a cafe on Boundary Road

Nima Bakhtiar opened a cafe on Boundary Road

A scattering of independent businesses have cottoned on to the changing clientele and profited as a result.

Having changed hands two years ago, The Railway Inn has been refurbished with a family-friendly atmosphere and describes itself as ‘more of a family pub than a boozer for the locals’.

The pub’s marketing manager, Ursula Wendler, said she has noticed the change in clientele, with a large increase in mums and young families, but said the pub does not have much competition.

She said: “Brighton is all about organic, small family run businesses. If they had more of that kind of thing down the high street in Portslade it would make it much more upmarket but still keep the community spirit.”

Franklin’s Café, attached to an antiques shop and owned by Michael and Jane Keehan, is one of the few independent businesses competing with The Railway.

Mrs Keehan said: “I think we have added a lot of value to the road here. We have just given something to the people who live here. There is definitely a demand for it.

“I think there’s a desperate need for some investment in Portslade because there are a lot of people moving out here due to the nice Victorian housing."

Nima Bakhtiar closed his café in Hove’s Western Road in 2012 and moved to Portslade to open Buondi Café in Boundary Road.

Compared to central Hove, he said his café in Portslade is a lot less popular, possibly due to the dilapidated feel of the surrounding high street.

He said: “Our location is better than anywhere else in Portslade. We have an outside seating area and we are right on the road. But Western Road was better. More people, more customers.”

Gemma Robinson owned a diner on Boundary Road for four years but had to sell it because she couldn’t afford the business alongside childcare.

She would like to see a return to more old-fashioned, independent businesses.

“What main stores have you got down here?” she said.

“It is all charity shops. Have you seen a grocers? A butchers? It would be good to have more traditional local stores.”

Despite the lack of quality shopping on offer, Portslade maintains a friendly, calm, community feel.

With good value property prices and a changing demographic, residents say now is the time when independent businesses should be making the most of this and moving in.

Glen Kelley, who moved from Brighton to Portslade 12 years ago, summed up how Portslade’s potential lies in its contrast to its neighbours.

“It is less chaotic than Brighton but it is a stone’s throw away,” he said.

“It’s more sociable. I live around the corner and that’s the difference between Portslade and Brighton. This is my little town.”