Un­lock­ing hid­den gems of ru­ral Bri­tain

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

An­drew John­son re­lies on the A30. The self­em­ployed mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant uses the 284-mile road, which runs from Land’s End to Lon­don, to con­nect to the mo­tor­way net­work so he can drive to Read­ing for work.

He lived in Peck­ham un­til four years ago, when he went in search of a life­style change, buy­ing a fan­tasy prop­erty near Bude in the north of Corn­wall. Leigh Manor Farm is an El­iz­a­bethan cot­tage, built on the site of a Nor­man fortress, in the vil­lage of Week St Mary. The four-bed­room prop­erty has mul­lioned stone win­dows, flag­stone floors and a spi­ral stair­case, and is nes­tled in six acres with two large barns.

“It’s a mag­i­cal place with a work­ing cider press and or­chard,” says John­son. He’s now sell­ing up as busi­ness is boom­ing and he’s spend­ing more time in his Read­ing flat than his coastal haven. “I don’t want to leave the area so I’ll buy a smaller cot­tage near Bude that I can lock and leave for longer pe­ri­ods of time,” he ex­plains.

He sees the A30 as a trusty trav­el­ling com­pan­ion and a dual car­riage­way up­grade fur­ther south in Corn­wall – on

‘In many parts of the coun­try, car travel is still the key driver of eco­nomic growth’

an eight-mile stretch be­tween the Chiver­ton Cross and Car­land Cross round­abouts – will cre­ate bet­ter ac­cess to that craggy cor­ner of the coun­try for other long dis­tance com­muters.

Larger rail in­fra­struc­ture projects tend to dom­i­nate the head­lines, from Cross­rail to HS2, due to the vast amounts of pub­lic money be­ing spent, dis­rup­tion to nearby home­own­ers and the im­pact on house prices. It is es­ti­mated that Cross­rail will boost prop­erty val­ues by 20 to 25 per cent along its route, for ex­am­ple.

How­ever there are dozens of road im­prove­ment schemes un­der way across the UK at any given time, con­tin­u­ally un­lock­ing hard-to-reach pock­ets of ru­ral Bri­tain, im­prov­ing peo­ple’s lives and mak­ing their prop­er­ties more de­sir­able.

“In many parts of the coun­try, car travel is still the key driver of eco­nomic growth and so the road net­work re- mains crit­i­cal,” says Will Taylor, di­rec­tor of the es­tate agency Martin & Co. “New road in­fra­struc­ture can con­nect re­mote ar­eas to pop­u­la­tion cen­tres, re­duce jour­ney times and re­lieve conges­tion – all of which have po­ten­tial to boost de­mand for homes.

“With the ad­vent of driver­less and elec­tric cars, in­vest­ment in the UK’s road net­work will re­main high on the agenda and will in­flu­ence Gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions on the al­lo­ca­tion of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment.”

Road im­prove­ments are about safety as much as ac­ces­si­bil­ity. For 20 years, the coun­ties of the Cotswolds have de­bated how to tackle a three-mile stretch of the A417 near Net­tle­ton Bot­tom. The only sin­gle car­riage­way on the road that links the M4 and the M5 (and an ob­vi­ous route be­tween Lon­don and the West Mid­lands), it suf­fers from heavy traf­fic and ac­ci­dents are com­mon. High­ways Eng­land are look­ing at ways to re­duce in­ci­dents and in turn al­le­vi­ate hol­i­day­maker traf­fic in the out­ly­ing vil­lages, such as Bibury and Coln St Ald­wyns to the east of the road and Pain­swick and Slad to the west.

New roads are not al­ways wel­comed, of course. Last month, Chris Grayling, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary, pub­lished plans for a tun­nel un­der Stone­henge in Wilt­shire. This will form part of the new South West dual car­riage ex­press­way link­ing the M3 in the south-east with the M5 in the west. The sec­tion of the A303 run­ning along­side the World Her­itage Site is a no­to­ri­ous bot­tle­neck for holidaymakers head­ing to Devon and Corn­wall, but the £2bil­lion pro­posal has been crit­i­cised by Dan Snow, the pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil for Bri­tish Ar­chae­ol­ogy, who likened the Gov­ern­ment to van­dals de­stroy­ing an­cient arte­facts. “Some­times an up­lift is not seen im­me­di­ately,” Taylor ex­plains. “In­deed, prices can be neg­a­tively af­fected by the dis­rup­tion. How­ever, this can present an ad­di­tional win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for in­vestors to buy at a tem­po­rary dis­count.”

Re­search by Martin & Co re­veals the three road projects com­pleted in the past two years that have driven the great­est up­lift in prices. Im­prove­ments to the in­ter­sec­tion at junc­tion 19 of the M1 (at Catthorpe, Le­ices­ter­shire) boosted prop­erty val­ues by 22.5 per cent; the Bedale by­pass in North York­shire, fin­ished in 2016, added 16.2 per cent; and the new junc­tion at Elkesley off the A1 in Not­ting­hamshire pushed house prices up by 12 per cent.

So where should the savvy home­buyer head now? Here is our pick of the parts of Bri­tain that are set to ben­e­fit from the next wave of road projects.

CORN­WALL

The up­grade of the A30 be­tween Car­land Cross and Chiver­ton Cross to a dual car­riage­way (£290mil­lion, due to start in 2019/2020). This will spread the com­muter belt to Truro. “Bet­ter roads and there­fore shorter travel times will open up res­i­den­tial pock­ets that buy­ers new to the area have not con­sid­ered be­fore, such as vil­lages to the north of Truro: Ze­lah, Short­lane­send and Goon­hav­ern,” says Will Gen­tle from Martin & Co.

Jonathan Cun­liffe of Sav­ills ar­gues that the up­grade will ease the daily

grind for those who com­mute in and out of Corn­wall by driv­ing to Ex­eter to pick up the train.

How­ever, the road im­prove­ments will need to go fur­ther to help the sec­ond-home own­ers and stay­ca­tion­ers who visit the area, he says. “There’s a chance that it will just shift the bot­tle­neck that we see on hol­i­day­maker changeover day fur­ther west, so it’s to be hoped that the dual car­riage­way will ul­ti­mately ex­tend down to Pen­zance and St Ives and open up more of the county.”

For sale Leigh Manor Farm, a Grade II listed cot­tage in Week St Mary, is £1.25mil­lion through Sav­ills. KENT The up­grade of the A21 to a dual car­riage­way be­tween Ton­bridge and Pem­bury (£69.7mil­lion, com­pleted in Septem­ber 2017). The widen­ing of the A21 to pre­vent the nasty bot­tle­neck by Cas­tle Hill has been a topic of de­bate for 20 years de­spite it be­ing the only link road to the M25 from Royal Tun­bridge Wells. Robert Ja­cobs from Sav­ills be­lieves that the up­grade will en­tice more com­muters to the his­toric Ken­tish town. “All those vil­lages down the length of the A21 south of Sevenoaks will be pos­i­tively af­fected, in­clud­ing Bid­bor­ough, Speld­hurst, Tude­ley, Pem­bury, Mat­field, Lam­ber­hurst, Horsmon­den, Goud­hurst and Hawkhurst,” says Linda Wes­son, di­rec­tor at Hamp­tons In­terna- tional. “Due to the top gram­mar schools in Royal Tun­bridge Wells th­ese vil­lages have pri­mary schools of a very high stan­dard.”

For sale Hamp­tons has a six-bed­room Ge­or­gian house in Bid­bor­ough with a gym for £1.795mil­lion.

TYNE AND WEAR

Im­prove­ments to the A19 junc­tion at Down­hill Lane (£100mil­lion, plans ap­proved). The A19 links New­cas­tle to Sun­der­land, run­ning past the Boldon vil­lages. Cur­rently, traf­fic backs up on the A184 through West Boldon at peak times, with a knockon ef­fect for East Boldon. The project is de­signed to at­tract more buy­ers to the area and to im­prove qual­ity of life for lo­cal res­i­dents. “West Boldon is in a con­ser­va­tion area and both vil­lages have highly rated gas­trop­ubs, award-win­ning butch­ers and plenty of cafes,” says Christo­pher Kelly of Hunters. “The av­er­age house price is around £240,000 with some prop­er­ties in the area reach­ing the £1mil­lion mar­ket.”

For sale Bai­ley & Co is sell­ing a five-bed­room house in East Boldon, built in 1901, for £595,000.

WEST SUS­SEX

A new A27 by­pass at Chich­ester (£250mil­lion, in plan­ning). With the rise of the stay­ca­tion, the Wit­ter­ings on the south coast have be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar dur­ing the school hol­i­days, caus­ing traf­fic to come to a stand­still around the West Sus­sex city.

“Re­liev­ing conges­tion around Chich­ester with a by­pass would open up a string of vil­lages that still of­fer good value for money in the South East, such as Don­ning­ton and Hun­ston,” says Martin & Co’s Matt Berry.

The sec­ond homes mar­ket would also ben­e­fit from al­le­vi­at­ing some of the traf­fic mis­ery on the drive from Lon­don as the sail­ing fra­ter­nity head down to the beau­ti­ful vil­lages of Bosham, Itchenor and Ship­ton Green on the Chich­ester Har­bour in­lets.

For sale Critch­field House, a fivebed­room home in Bosham, is £1.75mil­lion with Fine & Coun­try.

‘Bet­ter roads and shorter travel times will open res­i­den­tial ar­eas to new buy­ers’

BUCOLIC BEAUTY Bibury in the Cotswolds, cover, would ben­e­fit from im­prove­ments to the nearby A417; Critch­field House in Bosham above, is £1.75 mil­lion

LORD OF THE MANOR An­drew John­son (right) and his part­ner Bob Fear are sell­ing their home in Week St Mary, main, for £1.25 mil­lion through Sav­ills DRIV­ING UP HOUSE PRICES A six-bed­room house in Kent’s Bid­bor­ough, above, is £1.795 mil­lion with Hamp­tons; Bai­ley & Co is sell­ing a fivebed­room home in East Boldon, be­low, for £595,000

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