Great places you can af­ford to live

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

If you are sav­ing up to move to a quaint coun­try town, take heart. New re­search from es­tate agent Knight Frank has iden­ti­fied 11 towns close to the coun­try’s most sought-af­ter lo­ca­tions where you get more bang for your bucks. Dubbed the “in-be­tweener” towns, th­ese in­clude Che­sham, where the av­er­age price of a house is half that of nearby mil­lion­aire’s haunt Bea­cons­field. And Warmin­ster, which is con­vinc­ingly more af­ford­able than sought-af­ter Bath.

The re­sults are based on the av­er­age prices of de­tached prop­er­ties last year, us­ing Land Reg­istry fig­ures.

Ed­ward Cun­ning­ham, part­ner at Knight Frank Coun­try, ex­plains: “Buy­ers have of­ten been gov­erned by ei­ther com­mutabil­ity or af­flu­ent ar­eas with ex­cel­lent school­ing when mov­ing to the coun­try. How­ever, with the in­crease in Stamp Duty and the threat of a Man­sion Tax, th­ese cri­te­ria could be­come less im­por­tant. We are likely to see more buy­ers con­sider new catch­ment ar­eas that are per­haps less es­tab­lished but still of­fer won­der­ful life­styles, great value for money and are good in­vest­ments for the fu­ture.” sized fam­ily home at a de­cent price, with top schools and a com­mute to Lon­don in un­der an hour,” says Toby Har­ris, part­ner at Strutt & Parker Ban­bury. “There is a steady de­mand from Lon­don­buy­ers, which will only grow as more peo­ple are priced out of tra­di­tional com­muter towns.” Av­er­age price Ban­bury, Leamington Spa, For sale Con­verted his­toric inn with six bed­rooms and six acres of land, (01295 273592; strut­tand­parker.com) Just 26 miles north-west of Lon­don, Berkham­sted en­joys green belt sta­tus in the Chiltern Hills and has dif­fer­ent hous­ing stock to the wealth­ier com­muter towns of Harpen­den and Bea­cons­field. Sur­prises in­clude a canal, a Canadian totem pole and the fact au­thor Gra­ham Greene at­tended Berkham­sted School.

Oliver Beales, part­ner at Knight Frank Berkham­sted, says: “With a good spread of homes be­tween £250,000 and £2mil­lion, it has been rel­a­tively undis­cov­ered un­til re­cent years. Both Bea­cons­field and Harpen­den have a high pro­por­tion of top-end homes, mak­ing Berkham­sted a more ac­ces­si­ble op­tion for those seek­ing a county mar­ket town with all the fa­cil­i­ties that make it at­trac­tive to fam­i­lies and com­muters alike.” Av­er­age price Berkham­sted,

Harpen­den, For sale Grade-II listed, two-bed­room cottage with pretty gar­dens and good trans­port links, (01442 861610; knight­frank.co.uk) Sit­u­ated in the Chess Val­ley, Che­sham is in an ideal lo­ca­tion for those who en­joy ru­ral pur­suits, have fam­i­lies, or are young pro­fes­sion­als climb­ing the prop­erty lad­der. It’s also an at­trac­tive mar­ket town where, on av­er­age, you can buy a prop­erty at about half the price of its well­heeled neigh­bour, Bea­cons­field, which is just a pony trot away.

“Nearby vil­lages such as Ash­ley Green, Ley Hill and Choles­bury are sought-af­ter by young fam­i­lies look­ing to en­ter the county’s gram­mar school sys­tem, and com­muters pick­ing up the Metropoli­tan line in Che­sham, which goes straight into Baker Street,” says Oliver Beales, part­ner at Knight Frank Berkham­sted. Av­er­age price Che­sham, Bea­cons­field, For sale Spa­cious, de­tached fivebed­room home built in 2008, (01494 725636; sav­ills.com) Fam­i­lies are kept busy, with parks by the river, walks along the blos­som trail in the spring and a plethora of sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties, from row­ing to bowls. Lo­cal schools, such as Benge­worth Academy, have solid Of­sted re­ports. The town’s value-for­money hous­ing stock makes it popular with re­tired peo­ple, too. As for com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the M5, M40, M42 mo­tor­ways link it to the rest of the UK, while Lon­don Padding­ton can be reached by train in un­der two hours.

Eve­sham’s house prices have fallen or re­mained static since 2007, whereas nearby Chel­tenham Spa and Stratford upon Avon have con­tin­ued to im­prove, but now could be a good time to buy.

As Tom Cum­ber­land, se­nior ne­go­tia­tor at Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional Broad­way, says: “The town is start­ing to be recog­nised as up-and-com­ing, par­tic­u­larly by high street brands such as Waitrose, which has had an ap­pli­ca­tion passed to de­velop a new store in the cen­tre.” Av­er­age price Eve­sham, Chel­tenham, For sale Re­built 19th-cen­tury cottage and barn with su­perb views. (01386 388156; hamp­tons.co.uk). New­bury is as well-placed for com­muters as pricier neigh­bour, Ox­ford. The M4 and A34 act as cross­roads, while trains reach Lon­don Padding­ton in un­der an hour. This will im­prove fur­ther when the Great West­ern main­line is up­dated in 2016. Choice of state schools is re­port­edly good, while pri­vate schools in­clude Prince Charles’s alma mater, Cheam.

“New­bury and the area of­fer a wide range of prop­erty from ex­clu­sive mod­ern apart­ments in town start­ing around £250,000 Ox­ford op­tion: New­bury at­tracts a spec­trum of buy­ers to larger houses with land just out­side from £1.35mil­lion,” says Jo­hanna New­bury, manager of Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional, New­bury. “This at­tracts buy­ers across the spec­trum from those try­ing to get on the prop­erty lad­der, to down­siz­ers, as well as fam­i­lies up­siz­ing.”

It is a hub for in­vest­ment buy­ers, too. Short-term work­ers at blue-chip com­pa­nies in the area, such as Voda­fone and Sony, are cre­at­ing de­mand for buy-to­lets. Av­er­age price New­bury, Ox­ford, For sale De­tached, thatched cottage with four bed­rooms, Aga and heated in­door pool, (01635 813407; hamp­tons.co.uk) No­table schools in this vi­brant mar­ket town in­clude Churchers Col­lege and Bedales. Shop­ping is good and there is a se­lec­tion of cafés, pubs and restau­rants. Walk­ers can strike out into the South Downs, or get a head start on head­ing to the beach.

Com­mut­ing is al­most as easy as it is from Winch­ester, with a main­line fast train to Lon­don Water­loo. It is also on the A3 dual-car­riage­way that shoots up to Lon­don via the Hind­head tun­nel.

“Jour­ney times have been greatly im­proved since the open­ing of tun­nel,” says Rus­sell Grieve, part­ner at Knight Frank Hasle­mere. “Be­cause of this, we see the ma­jor­ity of buy­ers come from south-west Lon­don in par­tic­u­lar, Wandsworth, Bat­tersea, Ful­ham and Barnes.” Av­er­age price Peters­field, Winch­ester, On the mar­ket Grade-II listed Dump­ford Farm­house has six bed­rooms, five re­cep­tions, an an­nex and views across the South Downs, through Knight Frank (01428 734940; knight­frank.co.uk) Fans of this mar­ket town reckon its steep streets ex­ude an in­de­pen­dent spirit. There’s cer­tainly an arty at­mos­phere, bol­stered by its café cul­ture and

£1.2m

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