The winners of the Great British High Street Awards were announced last month – and the UK Champion was Crickhowell in Wales.
This picturesque town in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons has all the British charm of The Vicar Of Dibley, and its High Street is the life and soul.
And that’s not just good news for shopkeepers, it’s also a major draw for home buyers and mean those that own a property there have benefited from the strength of that award-winning High Street.
The award-winning High Street in Crickhowell, Powys, is a major draw for home buyers
Arrive first thing and you’ll see the staff at Webbs, the family-run department store, planning their deliveries for the day, while the shelves are being stacked with fresh bread at Askew’s; butcher Michael Thomas Cashell is arranging his display, while a young harpist is taking her instrument into Book-ish, the bookshop, where she plays for customers.
Cosily suburban though this scene may be, these locals are not always cuddly.
A supermarket chain recently made the mistake of pitching to turn an old pub, The Corn Exchange, into one of their stores.
The residents quickly formed a limited company with 273 shareholders and instead transformed the old pub into three shops and three flats. The venture was opened in July by Prince Charles.
Crickhowell’s success is all the more remarkable when you consider the demise of the UK’s High Streets. Some 1,267 shops have been closed or earmarked for closure since January, with rising costs and shoppers going online to blame.
However, in Crickhowell, where’s there’s a population of 2,800, the High Street is the town’s single biggest attraction to home buyers.
‘People love the idea of personal service and that’s largely what makes them want to live here,’ says Alex Buchanan, of M2 estate agents. ‘They could get better value for money in the supermarkets in Abergavenny six miles down the road, but they prefer to pay extra and shop local.’
Emma Corfield-Walters, is the owner of Bookish, one of the shops on Crickhowell High Street
What can you buy in Crickhowell?
Buyers pay a considerable premium for Crickhowell’s charms.
The average sold price of a home in the town last year was £300,000.
That compares to neighbouring Brecon’s average of £194,000 and Hay-on-Wye’s £239,000. It is particularly popular with retirees who enjoy walking.
Cottages in the centre of town, just off the High Street, sell for about £250,000, while a three-bedroom semi in the Seventies developments along the outskirts may set you back about £300,000.
Sales volumes are low, but there is a buy-to-let market with the town’s cottages being popular as Airbnb investments.
This four-bedroom home is on the outskirts of Crickhowell town centre, on a new development, The Green. At the back, is a walled garden. M2ea.co.uk, £549,995
Where else can you live near a top High Street?
Altrincham in Greater Manchester was named England Champion in the same awards, proof that it’s perfectly possible for a failing High Street to re-invent itself.
Only ten years ago a combination of high business rates and parking charges was steering Altrincham’s customers to the nearby Trafford Centre.
The town had the highest shop vacancy rates in Britain, with almost a third of shops lying empty.
Then came the renaissance. Aided by Trafford Council, high-profile chains were lured to the High Street and most importantly the ailing Altrincham Market was transformed.
In a quiet spot, this four-bedroom house is in the heart of Altrincham. It’s close to the Metrolink and popular Market Quarter. Watersons.net,£635,000
‘The outdoor market and busy food hall have been the making of Altrincham,’ says Anthony Jevons, of Jackson-Stops estate agents.
‘In terms of housing it is nearly as sought after as Bowden and Hale village.’
There are period semis and detached houses to the south of the centre, while
The Downs and Higher Downs are both popular.
More affordable properties are to the east of Hale and north of Altrincham. The average sold price last year was £442,000 — 18 per cent up on 2010.
Set on a hillside, amid mature gardens, with views of Todmorden, this house has three bedrooms. There is also a garage and parking. Anthonyjturner.co.uk,£330,000
Burnley Road in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, won the Rising Star High Street Award, largely due to its OPTin campaign, which organised a clean-up of its streets.
The locals have also formed Incredible Edible and grow fruit and vegetables, free for everyone.
They also arrange tastings and cookery demonstrations and tours.
Often seen as a poor relation to trendy neighbour Hebden Bridge, Todmorden offers more bang for your buck in terms of property.
Average sold prices were £155,000 last year, an increase of 10 per cent. Hebden’s average was £202,000 — a rise of only 3 per cent.
And Todmorden’s success is all down to a thriving High Street.
Small Business Saturday
One way you can benefit from a good High Street is to support your local independent shops.
Today marks Small Business Saturday campaign aimed at getting people to support their local shops by getting out and purchasing things in the run-up to Christmas.
Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday, said: ‘Small Business Saturday is a day to recognise the priceless contribution of the small business sector – not just to the UK economy – but to their communities as well; whether through support for schools and hospitals, mentoring or training for other businesses and for the long-term unemployed, and so much more.’
Or you could choose one of the happiest towns
Rightmove’s ten happiest places to live in the UK were revealed this week
A report claiming to have found the nation’s happiest places to live was released this week.
Leigh-on-Sea, adjacent to Southend on the north bank of the Thames estuary, already previously once led the list back in 2016, before dropping slightly to third place in 2017, writes Myra Butterworth.
It is now back on top after scoring highly on several factors, including having a sense of community spirit, good work opportunities, and residents being happy with the local restaurants and shops.
Leigh-on-Sea was named by Rightmove as the happiest place to live in Britain
Other factors taken into account in the research by property website Rightmove included feeling safe and earning enough to live comfortably.
The study asked 21,000 people how happy they are where they live as well, and to rank 12 happiness factors.
The average asking price of a home in Leigh-on-Sea is £386,613, up 2 per cent on a year ago and £82,552 higher than the national average asking price of £304,061.
Second place went to Farnham in Surrey, followed by Monmouth in Wales and Christchurch in Dorset.