Roads less travelled
Veer slightly off the beaten bridleways of the Daylesford triangle and head into Warwickshire to find glorious Cotswold countryside within reach of London. Canny buyers are doing just that, finds Arabella Youens
POSTCODE snobbery has mostly dictated that anyone buying a country house in the Cotswolds wants a GL or OX address, but, since the advent of faster and more regular services from Banbury to London Marylebone (and easier parking thanks to the multi-storey that opened in 2014), the villages of south Warwickshire—in particular, the CV36 area—are gathering appeal. ‘The area is a bit of a hidden gem,’ believes Jonathan Bramwell of The Buying Solution (01608 690780). ‘Once, the northern boundary for the Cotswold buyer who needed to be in London might have been the Chipping Norton to Banbury road, but the axis has started to move northwards, with buyers looking at the villages around Shipston-on-stour and those lying north and south of the B4035.’
However, persuading buyers of the easy commute still represents a challenge for some, cautions Nick Rudge of Savills in Banbury (01295 228000). ‘We had a Swiss couple looking to buy somewhere with easy access to Bicester station. Having not found anything after some time, they were persuaded to consider Banbury and were amazed at the ease of their journey and the pretty countryside, plus they found they could then afford a bigger house, with more land and privacy for less money.’
Agents agree that the motivation to consider this area isn’t just down to accessibility to Banbury station, but also to price. ‘Due to the ripple effect, buyers are being priced out of areas to the east as they’re looking too expensive as a result of the fashionable Soho Farmhouse and Daylesford draw,’ explains Jonathan. ‘Buyers are now looking at Shipston-on-stour, where they can find more value for money, but are still located a 15– to 20-minute drive from these hotspots.’
Matthew Allen of Fine & Country’s office in Banbury (01295 239666) agrees that you can get ‘more for your money’ in Warwickshire. Despite the fact that some of the best villages in this area—in particular Ilmington and Armscote—lie beyond the magical 1½-hour commute, with the increasing trend in home-working and three- or four-day office-based weeks, that’s no longer a barrier to many buyers.
One obstacle that can’t be overcome is access to the popular Oxford schools, so buyers tend to be either ‘refugees from Oxfordshire who’ve been looking to buy something for so long that their children have now left school’, according to one agent, or those who are looking for the same undulating countryside in a quieter vein and far removed from the tourist buses that do the rounds of the chocolate box Cotswolds towns during the summer months.
‘There are very few compromises that we have to consider when buying for our clients in this area,’ says