Caro­line McGhie

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Property -

Smart coun­try house, rosec­ov­ered coun­try cot­tage or skinny ter­raced house in town? Which would you choose? As the econ­omy changes and fuel prices rise, it seems that house-buy­ers in­creas­ingly are opt­ing for the snug ter­race. Ter­raced houses have been ris­ing in value ahead of other house types and play­ing a ma­jor part in the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of cities. Mike and Tanya Lewis moved into a five-bed­room ter­raced house in Minch­in­hamp­ton, Glouces­ter­shire, when their chil­dren were born. “Minch­in­hamp­ton is this tiny per­fect town with a doc­tor, a post of­fice, lovely butch­ers and a dairy which sells or­ganic cheese and milk,” says Tanya. “There is also a lit­tle su­per­mar­ket which we can walk to, even when the snow is thick on the ground.” Since they moved, two cof­fee shops have opened up sell­ing heav­enly cho­co­late fridge cake and flap­jacks. This is the age of the Cap­puc­cino Gen­er­a­tion. Those who can af­ford to move want to stay close to cof­fee shops and schools rather than dive into the ru­ral abyss. “Schools were very im­por­tant to us,” says Tanya. “We wanted our chil­dren to be able to walk to school or catch a bus for sec­ondary school. A bus route is very im­por­tant. We also wanted to be in a com­mu­nity, have tod­dler groups for the chil­dren and get in­volved in lo­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.” Their ter­race, made up of Cotswold stone cot­tages, some big, some small, gave them all that. “Lots of fam­i­lies with pri­mary school chil­dren have moved here, quite a lot from Lon­don and around the South East. It works bril­liantly. There is al­ways some­one to say hello to or bor­row a saucepan from.” Their daugh­ter Ella is now 13, their son Oliver is 10, and they have two ponies in a rented field, so they want to move house in or­der to keep the ponies with them. They are sell­ing their fam­ily home, with all its ex­posed beams, stone fire­places, oak floors and coach house, at £560,000 through Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional (01453 568144). They hope it will be the per­fect buy for a young fam­ily in the next wave of peo­ple mov­ing out of Lon­don, fol­low­ing their foot­steps in swap­ping a Vic­to­rian ter­race for a coun­try town equiv­a­lent. Per­haps this is one rea­son why ter­raced houses have sur­vived the squeeze on in­comes and em­ploy­ment sur­pris­ingly well. “They are al­most worth what they were at the peak in 2007,” says So­phie Chick of Sav­ills Re­search, who has looked at val­ues across the coun­try. “And they have in­creased by 3.4 per cent in the last year which, when you con­sider the av­er­age in­crease across the re­gions is 0.8 per cent, means they have sig­nif­i­cantly out­per­formed other houses.” The coun­try cot­tage, the dream pur­chase for ru­ral ro­mancers, has slumped to 7 per cent be­low peak value, while the de­tached coun­try house is more than 16 per cent be­low the peak. “There has been a trend to­wards ur­ban liv­ing,” says So­phie. “We haven’t seen buy­ers mov­ing out of Lon­don in the same num­bers as be­fore, but when they do they don’t want to go into deep coun­try­side or vil­lage life. They want ur­ban cof­fee shops and train sta­tions nearby. They want to cut down on the last leg of the com­mute and be closer to their desks. They work flex­i­bly but not re­motely.” Ter­raced houses first made a real im­pact in the 17th cen­tury af­ter the Great Fire of Lon­don, when The Re­build­ing Act of 1667 spec­i­fied that houses should be made of brick rather than tim­ber. Ni­cholas Bar­bon was one of the first de­vel­op­ers in Lon­don, putting up houses along The Strand and around Blooms­bury which are still there to­day. Fa­mous stylists of the type in­clude John Nash, who cre­ated the or­nate houses around Re­gent’s Park. Fa­mous too were John Wood the El­der and John Wood the Younger, who made such an im­pact on Bath that it is now a World Her­itage Site. In Bath an en­tire Grade I listed Ge­or­gian cres­cent is cur­rently be­ing re­stored at a cost of £60mil­lion by Fu­ture Her­itage. Nine com­plete houses have been sold as shells, while the rest are be­ing turned into lux­ury three and four-bed­room apartments, each with a bit of his­toric façade. Three years ago Som­er­set Place pro­vided digs for stu­dents at Bath Spa Univer­sity. To­day the price of the cheap­est flat is £1.6mil­lion, through Sav­ills (01225 474550), and the city is so renowned and de­sir­able that it will at­tract in­ter­na­tional buy­ers. “Just un­der 40 per cent of our buy­ers have Lon­don post­codes in their cur­rent ad­dresses, and ed­u­ca­tion is of­ten the pull, as we have five in­de­pen­dent schools – a lot for a small city,” says Luke Brady of Sav­ills. “Peo­ple are choos­ing town life so that they can be close to restau­rants, the­atres and schools but still have coun­try­side on the doorstep. This city has streets and streets of ter­races, start­ing at £250,000 to £350,000 for Vic­to­rian houses in Old­field Park, to Ge­or­gian ter­races at just un­der £1mil­lion, to a house in The Cir­cus on the mar­ket at £4.5mil­lion.” So good is the ter­raced house at eco­nom­i­cal use of space and at ap­peal­ing to all sec­tors that ar­chi­tects are al­ways try­ing to rein­vent it. In Chel­tenham, a city which thrives on its Re­gency ter­races, de­vel­oper Lee Bales has pro­duced an un­usual mod­ernist ver­sion for sale at £350,000 through Sav­ills (01242 548000). It is an ar­range­ment of squares and ob­longs in bat­tle­ship grey. “It is slot­ted right into a Re­gency ter­race,” says Lee. “In­side it is open plan with the kitchen on the ground floors, liv­ing room on the first floor and bed­room and bath­room above that, with a lad­der to the roof ter­race.” The sec­ond bed­room or work­room is in the base­ment. “It might suit a pro­fes­sional cou­ple, with chil­dren at one of the pri­vate schools who want a crash pad.”

Ter­race talk: the Lewis fam­ily has en­joyed the in­ti­macy of Minch­in­hamp­ton

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