House prices could rise in villages off the A66

The first lesson in how to identify a future hotspot is to look at proposed new transport links. It’s why house builders have shown interest in the villages that lie close to the A66.This road begins at Scotch Corner by the A1(M) and connects North Yorkshire’s border with the Lake District and outer reaches of Cumbria.Highways England has just conducted a public consultation on a £1bn upgrade of the A66, which would make the stretch between the A1(M) at Scotch Corner and the M6 junction 40 at Penrith a dual carriageway, while creating safer slip roads. If and when it happens, journey times will speed up and access onto the A66 will be safer and easier, which could bring economic benefits and boost house prices.Chris Thyer, Rural Associate Director of GSC Grays estate agency, helped with the Highways England consultation and admits that the upgrade is a long-term project and is dependent on government funding. “It could take until 2025 to start if funding is given and then it could take another ten years to do the work, but we’ve already seen developers take an interest in the area and buying a property there now could be a good long-term investment if the upgrade goes ahead.“Traffic will flow better and there will be new junctions that villagers can use to turn onto the A66. At the moment, it can be quite dangerous to turn off the narrow lanes leading onto the main road. Proper slip roads onto a dual carriageway will make all the difference.”

Hidden gems

While the idyllic villages along the Yorkshire and Teesdale stretch of the A66 are well-known to locals, this area is rarely on the radar of buyers fixed on hotspots in Swaledale and Wensleydale.“A lot of people don’t realise that it has some lovely villages with good pubs and communities and they are all close to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Yorkshire Dales,” says Chris.Richard Thompson of the Marcus Alderson estate agency agrees and adds: “It’s a good location with a lot of unspoiled villages and I really think it’s set to take off. The social make-up has already started to change. We have people who retire here and others who buy here and travel to work in Leeds, which is just over an hour’s drive away.“They come for the lifestyle and the prices, which are much lower than those in Leeds, York and Harrogate. York is 35 per cent more expensive.”

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Home of Sir Ian Botham

Among the most sought-after locations is picturesque Ravensworth. The village, which has a pub and a school, would benefit greatly from a new and improved junction on and off the A66.The finest property for sale there is £2m and belongs to cricketer Sir Ian Botham. Park House, pictured above, has 11 bedrooms, nine reception rooms, eight bathrooms, a four-bedroom barn, a coach house and 11 acres. It is for sale with Knight Frank. The least expensive is a two-bedroom cottage for £235,000 with Charltons.Further down the A66 towards Bowes, Barningham, a pretty village with a tearoom, is more desirable thanks to the reopening of the pub, which has been refurbished and renamed “The Milbank Arms”.Closer to the A1 junction is Melsonby, which has plenty of amenities and is attracting young families.For those who are concerned about development in villages along the A66, Richard Thompson says: “There are a limited number of sites in the Local Plan, which means the villages should remain unspoilt.”

*Sir Ian Botham's home Park House is for sale at £2m with Knight Frank, Harrogate, tel:01423 530088,