Ilkey, West Yorkshire has been named the best place to live in the North and Northeast of England.
It is top of a list of 10 locations in the region chosen by The Sunday Times to represent the best of Britain in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.
The comprehensive guide is released online today and will be available in the paper on Sunday.
The Sunday Times’s expert judges behind the guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.
They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit – which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.
A detailed breakdown of house prices has been supplied by data specialists TwentyCi and information on internet speeds has been supplied by Thinkbroadband.com, the UK’s leading independent guide to broadband.
Please note: apart from the regional winner, the other locations are not ranked, but listed in alphabetical order.
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2021: North and Northeast
· Winner: Ilkley, West Yorkshire
· Alnmouth, Northumberland
· Barnard Castle, Co Durham
· Easingwold, North Yorkshire
· Masham, North Yorkshire
· Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire
· Todmorden, West Yorkshire
· Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear
Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times Property Editor said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings. With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.
“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.
“Ilkley has a beating community heart, a business brain, culture and a good sense of humour.
“It’s also got excellent schools, great shops in its town centre and is within easy reach of both Leeds and the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, with its own magical moor as the icing on the cake.”
llkley has everything our judges are looking for. They were impressed by the excellent transport links, magnificent scenery and an energetic, environmentally minded community that showed its strength in the successful campaign against pollution in the River Wharfe. There’s plenty to do – tennis, rugby, cycling with the largest club in the country, and swimming in the beautiful lido – and plenty to get involved in. Initiatives cover everything from helping out at the literature festival to working to make Ilkley dementia-friendly. They also admired the thriving high street and the excellent selection of places to eat and drink, from authentic espresso at La Stazione to fine dining at the venerable Box Tree.
Average sale price: £352,000
Average rental: £825 pcm
Alnmouth: “It has magnificent beaches, a well stocked high street and a haunted hotel, but it’s the direct trains to London and Edinburgh that make this the best base on the beautiful Northumberland Coast,” according to the judges. They were impressed by the surrounding villages, too. Notably Warkworth, where village cricket is played in the shadow of a ruined castle and there’s a decent little high street, and. Rennington which has a strong community feel.
Average sale price: £310,000
Average rental: £650 pcm
Barnard Castle: Judges said:“Good eyesight is essential in this hearty country town that’s old-fashioned in the nicest possible way and surrounded by some of England’s grandest but least explored scenery,” said the judges. They also highlighted the Bowes Museum, an extraordinary collection in an even more extraordinary chateau-style building and the tempting independent shops on the high street, where there’s also a monthly farmers’ market selling everything from artisan sourdough to Wiga Wagaa chilli oils.
Average sale price: £220,000
Average rental: £525 pcm
Easingwold “Civilised shops and a cobbled market square are one reason we think this unpretentious Georgian market town is one of North Yorkshire’s best. The other is the perfect location, close to both the Dales and the lovely Howardian Hills but conveniently located on the A19,” was the judges’ verdict here. They picked out the choice of secondary schools – including Outwood Academy, one The Sunday Times Parent Power Guide’s top state secondary schools in the North – as a big attraction for families. Other features highlighted included brunch at the friendly Olive Branch bistro.
Average sale price: £270,000
Average rental: £725 pcm
Leeds: Chapel Allerton “A well supported independent high street – with fishmonger, bookshop, cheese shop and much more – and an inspiring and imaginative community group, CA Spaces, make this urban village our favourite corner of Leeds.” said the judges. They were particularly impressed with the efforts of CA Spaces – mostly run by young mums juggling work and home schooling – to beautify the area, including street art, tree planting and creating pick-your-own veg beds and a “mud kitchen” for children in a patch of neglected woodland. They also praised Gledhow Valley Woods as an atmospheric location for lockdown exercise. Elsewhere in the city, they highlighted Farsley as an up-and-coming creative neighbourhood and Horsforth as a city suburb with a proper country feel.
Average sale price: £210,000
Average rental: £725 pcm
Masham: The judges described Masham as “a picturesque market town in its own right that offers the best of both worlds. The extraordinary landscape of the Yorkshire Dales is on the doorstep and Ripon, with its top selective school and Curzon cinema, is just a short drive away.” Their favourite things here include the market, Black Sheep Brewery and Johnny Baghdad’s is a funky bright-yellow café on the square.
Average sale price: £350,000
Average rental: £650 pcm
Slaithwaite: A new entry this year, the judges praised this canalside mill town as a “great choice for families”. It has easy train links to both Manchester and Leeds and is surrounded by lovely countryside. Most of all, though, they were impressed with its vibrant centre – “full of imaginative and hard-working businesses that could be a lesson to many other towns.” Among the many highlights are a co-operative greengrocer, the not-for-profit Handmade Bakery, family-run Anello, which serves some of the best pizza in the North, and the inventive and welcoming children’s store Acorn and Pip.
Average sale price: £174,000
Average rental: £550 pcm
Todmorden: A healthy dash of alternative spirit and cheaper houses than Hebden Bridge are the big attractions for the judges here. They were impressed with the scenery too – especially the view from Stoodley Pike. The judges also admired the grow-your-own-food movement, Incredible Edible and the charitable efforts of a local wild swimming group raised £45,000 for Crisis through sponsored dips in frozen tarns and freezing waterfalls and lakes.
Average sale price: £120,000
Average rental: £525 pcm
Tynemouth: This seaside suburb of Newcastle is a perennial favourite with the Sunday Times judges for its schools, attractive houses and lively personality. Even with the shops and market out of action due to Covid, the beaches have been a glorious refuge for swimmers and paddleboarders. Judges said: “We were impressed, too, with the campaign to reopen Tynemouth Outdoor Pool, the 1920s saltwater lido, and the cunning of Riley’s Fish Shack, famous for its lobster, Craster kipper wraps, local beers and homemade hot buttered rum, which plans to rent out individual deckchairs to punters as a way to keep serving safely during Covid restrictions.”
Average sale price: £240,000
Average rental: £625 pcm
“York is one of the very best locations in the country for schools, and its unbeatable rail connections and interesting shops and restaurants give this historic city a thoroughly modern edge,” the judges said. They scored it particularly highly for education: at least 90 per cent of state school pupils attend a school that’s rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, and Co-ed Fulford School was judged to be the comprehensive of the decade by The Sunday Times Parent Power guide. They picked out South Bank as a good area for people priced out of the city centre, praising the independent shops on ““Bishy” (Bishopthorpe) Road, and beautiful Rowntree Park.
Average sale price: £285,000
Average rental: £850 pcm
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in Britain covers the following regions: North and Northeast, Midlands, Northern Ireland, Southeast, Wales, Southwest, East, London, Scotland and the Northwest.
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