Clarkson’s prime spot
JEREMY Clarkson has done it again. The Amazon Prime TV series about his 1,000-acre Cotswolds farm has become a cult hit, with fans queueing at his Diddly Squat Farm Shop for what he describes as “no-nonsense things”. Although the Cotswolds hardly needs Clarkson’s Farm to put it on the property map, inevitably the former Top Gear star’s new show has put the area in the spotlight.
“Clarkson’s Farm has certainly appealed and is being talked about widely,” agrees Sam Butler of Butler Sherborn estate agency. Although he points out that Clarkson’s 1,000 acres is a serious-sized farm, he says: “Over the past 10 years there has been growing demand for smallholdings and we don’t see that changing.”
But the reason most people want to move to parts of the six counties that make up the Cotswolds is because of its gorgeous villages and lovely market towns such as Cirencester, where Butler Sherborn is marketing Gable Cottage.
The two-bedroom Cotswold stone house with exposed timbers, window seats, stone fireplace and wood-burning stove is everything you would expect of a downsizer or holiday home in the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales and it’s for sale at £390,000 (01285 883740; butlersherborn.co.uk).
“Economically, the Cotswolds is always the last area to slow down and the first to pick-up as the property market changes, so property values remain resilient,” says Butler. “The area offers excellent facilities that include schools, places to eat, sporting venues, great walking and riding and has become the place to live within two hours of London. I do not see this changing.”
Bertie Cassels, partner at national buying agents Heaton & Partners, agrees: “For classic rural England, there is nowhere else. Cobbled streets with trendy eateries, TV chefs and A-list stars come as standard in every village.”
Snowshill, Bibury, Castle-Combe, Slad, Stanway and Bampton have all been used for films sets because of their quintessential British charm he says, adding: “There are a hundred places more affordable than the Cotswolds, but property values endure here because of its complete uniqueness, both in aesthetic and atmosphere.”
Among those more affordable places is Northamptonshire, which also has its share of pretty villages built from local limestone – similar to the honey-hued Cotswold stone but with a deep rusty colour.This and other East Midlands counties are emerging as challengers to the Cotswolds thanks to its unspoilt countryside, good rail and road links plus reasonably priced property.
As Dean Markall, sales and marketing director at Martin Grant Homes, says: “Northamptonshire is a hidden gem in the Midlands, offering buyers beautiful stone houses in amenity-rich villages and towns, at a far more accessible price point when compared to somewhere like the Cotswolds.
“Without a dominant second homes market causing prices to over-inflate, Northamptonshire is an ideal place for first and second steppers, with communities centred around families. It has a rich market town history, beautiful architecture and expansive countryside, including Sywell Country Park and Harlestone Firs.”
Martin Grant Homes has a new development Buckton Fields, that features houses with the Northamptonshire ironstone look, although most have traditional brick facades.
Three miles from Northampton, and 10 miles from the M1, it has good shopping and rail links. Prices start from £290,000 for a three-bedroom mid-terrace home (01604 438231; martingranthomes.co.uk).
Although the East Midlands are way behind the Cotswold sin terms of celebrity endorsed trendiness, there’ s one cultural area where it is way ahead: street food.
Markall adds: “It’s ideal for everything from fine dining and country pubs to street festivals and Indian restaurants.”