Video: Why Selby is Yorkshire’s ideal rural idyll

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with historic market towns, acres of countryside and 80 miles of coastline between them, these three rural corners of Yorkshire have plenty to offer to those who call them home.

Now Selby, Hambleton and the East Riding have won official recognition as among the UK’s best countryside districts to live.

The centre of Selby

The centre of Selby

They were the only places in northern England to have staked a place in a top 50 list compiled following research by Halifax on rural living standards.

Districts were scored on a range of criteria, including health and life expectancy, exam results, employment and earnings, the environment, crime rates and house price affordability.

Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, has had a constituency home in Hambleton since 1995 and said she was not surprised it had earned a spot in the top 50.

“The level of services is very good, as are the transport connections,” she said.

She also cited “the quality of housing, the excellent shops and very good schools in the state sector, which are a source of great pride”.

But rural living is not without its drawbacks, such as the higher cost of fuel, she added.

“We pay more at the pump but we choose to live in a rural area and I think many people accept that that’s the premium we pay,” she said.

“But fuel poverty for both tanking up your vehicle and heating up your home is a concern.”

But she added: “The positives easily outweigh any drawbacks and I’m sure most residents would rather live here than anywhere else.”

Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams said he was not surprised to see part of his constituency on the list either. Selby ranked highest out of the Yorkshire districts, at 33, followed by the East Riding at 39 and Hambleton at 42.

“We are fortunate to live in this part of North Yorkshire,” said the Conservative MP, who has lived in the area for 36 years.

“We have some lovely rural villages and places of interest, high employment, low levels of unemployment and great transport links.

“It’s very accessible to Leeds, York and other larger cities with good train links and direct services across the country and down to London.

“It’s a very popular place to live and I’m very lucky to represent it as its MP.”

While northern England made a scant number of appearances in the top 50, the report found it tended to come out on top when it came to school exam results and house price affordability, as well as having relatively low population densities and traffic.

Nearly a third of the 50 local authority districts with the highest quality of life were in the South East while the East of England claimed 13 spots and the East Midlands had 11.

Of the remainder, five places went to the South West and two were taken by the West Midlands, while Scotland and Wales were not represented.

Waverley in Surrey topped the list. The borough takes its name from Waverley Abbey, reputedly the first Cistercian abbey in England.

The area, which was recently a backdrop for Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse, contains an area of outstanding natural beauty in Blackheath Common and is bordered by the North Downs.

Its historic towns include Godalming, whose origins can be traced back to Saxon times.

Male Waverley residents have an average life expectancy of almost 81 years and 97 per cent of the population generally is deemed to be in “good health”.

The average weekly wage in the area is £888 – significantly above the UK average of £609. The employment rate is almost 80 per cent, which is also well above typical UK levels.

House prices are also relatively affordable at about £325,000, which is 5.6 times local earnings. Across rural Britain, house prices cost around six times annual earnings.

Martin Ellis, housing economist for Halifax, said: “While Waverley is not the top area in any one 
indicator, its strength is that it
performs strongly across the board.

“The average resident has a high weekly income, enjoys above average health and life expectancy and low crime rates.”

The Home Counties triumphed, with Uttlesford in Essex in second place and neighbouring East Hertfordshire third in the survey. Rushcliffe and South Northamptonshire in the East Midlands were the only local authorities in the top 10 list from outside the South East or East of England.