Rural Yorkshire offers some of the best quality of life to be found across the whole of the UK, a new study claims, despite barriers to affordable housing and a higher cost of living.
The North Yorkshire districts of Hambleton, Ryedale and Richmondshire all feature in a top 50 list compiled by Halifax bank of the best places to live in 2016.
Hambleton is considered the best place to live in the region and the fifth greatest in the UK, behind only Winchester in the South East which tops the rankings, followed by Scotland’s Orkney Islands, Wychavon in the West Midlands and the Derbyshire Dales in the East Midlands.
Ryedale is 29th and Richmondshire 33rd, while Yorkshire’s only other entry in the top 50 is Harrogate, also in North Yorkshire, which is ranked 41st.
The study examined life expectancy, health, employment rates, crime, education, broadband access, population densities and the weather to determined a top 50 table.
Councillor Mark Robson, leader of Hambleton District Council, said it was fantastic the area had made the top five.
He said: “Hambleton is a great place to live and work. It’s the secure nature of it, people love to come here, whether they are old or young, and there is such a diverse quality of jobs.
“The local economy is buoyant. We are on with a new Local Plan and we have done various things to safeguard jobs like purchasing the old prison at Northallerton and the police headquarters relocation.
“I’ve lived here all my life and there’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
Richmondshire is the sixth most sparsely populated district in England and while district councillor John Blackie agreed that the area is worthy of the recognition, he said the quality of life in deeply rural areas is under threat.
Coun Blackie said: “Two-thirds of Richmondshire is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and we have some internationally famous and stunning landscapes. We are very fortunate to live and work amongst the most wonderfully relaxing landscapes but it comes at a price.
“Whilst we have some employment, I would question the quality of that employment. People living in deeply rural areas sometimes have two or three jobs to keep on top of household budgets. The quality of life is fabulous but the price to be paid is much higher house prices and it’s driving people away. The loss of young families means the quality of life in deeply rural areas is under threat and what they mustn’t become are retirement communities for the wealthy.”
Harrogate Borough Council leader Coun Richard Cooper said his town can maintain its quality of life despite the reverse threat - a growing population and pressure on its busy road network.
He said: “What’s great about Harrogate is it’s not preserved in aspic. It changes and adapts and becomes better to move with the times. It used to be a spa resort, then a conference and exhibition resort, now it has become the national and international venue of choice - the Tour de France for example and potentially the Road World Championships.
“I have nothing other than complete confidence that Harrogate will continue to be at the top of the rankings moving forward.”