TV show brings re­al­ity check for buy­ers

TV se­ries Love Thy Grass­ing­ton into the spot­light, but has it de­stroyed a Dales dream for house hun­ters? Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

EV­ERY year, thou­sands of vis­i­tors dis­cover the delights of Grass­ing­ton, and a good many wish they could up sticks and move to the pic­ture-post­card vil­lage.

That Dales dream is now a re­al­ity TV pro­gramme and it gives a snapshot of what it’s like to live in one of those pretty lit­tle cot­tages and be part of a tightknit com­mu­nity.

Love Thy Neigh­bour is a Chan­nel 4 con­test to win a £300,000 cot­tage in Grass­ing­ton, and each episode fea­tures two fam­i­lies who have five days to throw them­selves into vil­lage life and per­suade res­i­dents they would be an as­set to the area. At the end of each week, vil­lagers vote for the fam­ily they want to see in the fi­nals.

The se­ries has a di­verse ar­ray of con­tes­tants, in­clud­ing a les­bian cou­ple, a trans­ves­tite, and a pair of Vik­ing-ob­sessed trav­ellers, and they soon dis­cover that the ru­ral idyll is not all roses round the door and friendly chats over the gar­den fence.

Just like any­where else, it has its share of big­ots, back-stab­bers and busy­bod­ies and, nat­u­rally, the cam­era homes in on them.

How­ever, each pro­gramme be­gins with panoramic views of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side, and fo­cuses on some won­der­ful char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing Bunty Leder, Mary Wilkin­son and the York­shire Post’s Coun­try Week colum­nist, Sue Wood­cock.

It also makes you re­alise that there are some peo­ple you’d pay a pre­mium to live next door to. In short, it’s been fan­tas­tic PR for a place that wasn’t re­ally in need of it.

“I went the other day and the place was teem­ing,” says Ian Booth­man, of Skip­ton­based es­tate agency Har­ri­son Booth­man, who adds that hits on the firm’s web­site have in­creased since Love Thy Neigh­bour be­gan.

“Grass­ing­ton has al­ways been a pop­u­lar place to live be­cause of its fa­cil­i­ties and the qual­ity of life it of­fers. It’s a pretty vil­lage, with an ac­tive com­mu­nity and it’s got ev­ery­thing you need,” says Ian.

“It was more of a lo­cals place in the late 1970s, but even then peo­ple had started buy­ing hol­i­day cot­tages there and mov­ing in from out­side the area.”

Ni­cholas Gee, of Dacre, Son and Hart­ley’s Skip­ton branch, agrees; “It’s got shops, restau­rants, a doc­tor’s surgery, den­tist and a school, whereas most Dales’ vil­lages don’t have those sort of ameni­ties. It’s also got good com­mu­nity spirit. We’re see­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple who want to live there.”

Prices re­flect its de­sir­abil­ity and are bad news for first-time buy­ers. A tiny cot­tage costs from £180,000, and a fam­ily-sized prop­erty from about £250,000. The most ex­pen­sive at the mo­ment is The Old Hall, at £2.25, mil­lion with Stan­ton Mor­timer.

Ac­cord­ing to Love Thy Neigh­bour: “Vil­lagers claim that you have to have three gen­er­a­tions in the grave­yard be­fore you are con­sid­ered a lo­cal, and like many ru­ral farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties, it is largely white, mid­dle-class and con­ser­va­tive.”

Ni­cholas Gee says: “We find the pro­file of the av­er­age buyer in Grass­ing­ton older, about 55-plus. It’s those who are semi-re­tired or re­tired and they are peo­ple who have al­ways dreamed of liv­ing there.

“We’re also get­ting more peo­ple who can work from home and fam­i­lies want­ing to buy there be­cause of the schools.”

The vil­lage pri­mary and nearby Up­per Wharfedale High School are well re­garded, and the sought-af­ter Skip­ton Girls’ High School and Ermyst­eds School are half-an-hour away.

The only dis­ad­van­tage for some is the hordes of day-trip­pers Grass­ing­ton at­tracts. But while the in­flux of cars and peo­ple can be an in­con­ve­nience, those who live there soon get used to it, and there are many com­pen­sa­tions.

Who­ever wins the £300,000 cot­tage will be the envy of many, and if they de­cide to stay, it should pay div­i­dends.

“This is one of the most pop­u­lar places to live in the Dales Na­tional Park and it’s al­ways go­ing to be a good in­vest­ment,” says Ni­cholas.

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