Altrincham in Cheshire has been named as the best place to live in Britain by The Sunday Times. In addition, the guide has named a series of regional winners, including Victoria Park Village which takes the crown as the best place to live in London, and Leith, Edinburgh which is named the best place to live in Scotland.
The Sunday Times’s expert judges assess a wide range of factors, from schools, transport and broadband speed to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street to produce the definitive guide to the UK’s finest locations to call home.
The judges have travelled thousands of miles around the UK, visiting the locations and talking to locals. They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes, and locations bursting with community spirit.
The annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live in Britain survey also uses robust and exclusive statistics, including up-to-date house prices, provided by mortgage company Habito and TwentyCi.
Helen Davies, The Sunday Times Home editor, said: “Our advice is simple. Think about everything you love and everything you hate, then make sure you have access to the good things while minimising exposure to the bad ones. And we’re here to help. Today we champion 101 locations across the UK and crown one lucky winner.
“Never has where you live felt more important. This year we have, along with house prices, air quality, good schools and access to green spaces, championed locations that have showcased great community spirit.
“The feeling of involvement in and concern for one’s local community is being challenged — and celebrated — as never before. We wish everyone well wherever they live.”
Altrincham is the ultimate turnaround town. Its revitalised town centre is now a place to linger in to enjoy first-class food and drink, whereas less than a decade ago it was universally acknowledged as having the worst high street in Britain. The Market House, a lively market with an indoor food hall, a covered area for arts and crafts, and a play area, has been the biggest contributor to the towns upturn.
It is a town where family and community are at the heart of everything; everywhere welcomes children. It has the two best schools in the northwest, according to The Sunday Times Parent Power guide and the National Trust’s lovely Dunham Massey adds a well-scrubbed taste of the country.
And it is that same spirit which is knitting people together during a time of national emergency. A Facebook group set up days ago for volunteers to visit the sick and vulnerable has already had 3500 people offering to help.
The market is planning to do deliveries of essential groceries for people who can’t leave the house. “We’re going to reinvent ourselves for the foreseeable future,” said Altrincham market boss Nick Jones, who runs Market House food hall. “Since we took over the market in 2013 it’s been an amazing force in the local community and that’s part of what makes living here so special. We desperately want to keep people’s spirits up during these uncertain times.”
The London winner Victoria Park Village, in Hackney, has all the key ingredients of a lovely place to live; beauty, community, green space, nice shops, good food, decent schools and a strong sense of place. A lot of the credit goes to park itself, 213 magnificent acres that last year earned a Green Flag People’s Choice for favourite parks.
Edinburgh’s former port district Leith, returns to the list to be named the winner in Scotland. It is described by The Sunday Times’s judges as a breath of fresh air. It is noted for its diversity, the impressive repurposed industrial buildings including a former biscuit factory which has become a gin distillery, and its range of places to eat including Tom Kitchin’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
The Sunday Times’s unique understanding of the housing market and in-depth property coverage helps readers find a place to call home, whether they are hip young professionals, growing families or discerning downsizers.
Daniel Hegarty, founder and CEO at Habito, the online mortgage broker, said: “There are many factors that contribute to where people choose to live – whether that’s buying to be near green space, wanting to become part of a thriving local community or to be a bit closer to friends and family. Habito helps homeowners get the right mortgage, so they can spend their time finding a place to call home. This year’s deserving winners demonstrate that the UK’s best places to live deliver much more than great real estate; they give people a sense of belonging and somewhere people can live their life to the full.”
Previous winners of the best places to live in Britain title are: Stamford, Lincolnshire (2013); Skipton, North Yorkshire (2014); Newnham, Cambridge (2015); Winchester, Hampshire (2016); Bristol (2017), York (2018) and Salisbury (2019).
You can find out more about all of the 2020 winners, including the regional winners, on The Sunday Times website.
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live: List of regional winners
National: Altrincham, Cheshire
North and North East: The Howardian Hills, North Yorkshire
Midlands: Uppingham, Rutland
Northern Ireland: Ballycastle, Co Antrim
South East: St Albans, Hertfordshire
Wales: Narberth, Pembrokeshire
South West: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
London: Victoria Park Village
Scotland: Leith, Edinburgh
North West: Bollington, Cheshire