New research from property portal Zoopla highlights the South Yorkshire borough as a key hotspot as we emerge from the pandemic.
It’s one of the top 20 fastest-moving markets in the UK just now; properties are going from hitting the market to sold subject to contract within an average of 32 days.
Tom Parker, consumer spokesperson at Zoopla, said: “Barnsley is also recording strong house price growth of 6.5 per cent.
“This is above the average house price growth in Yorkshire and the Humber of 5.6 per cent, while this figure stands at 4.1 per cent nationally. Three-bedroom semi-detached homes are the most popular property type in the area.”
Local estate agent Abby Robinson can beat that 32-day average. This week, within two days of putting a four-bedroomed detached house with a garage and drive on the market in the old pit village of Mapplewell, she had two offers above the asking price of £265,000 on the table.
“The S75 area, which includes Mapplewell, Darton, Higham and Barugh Green, is in very high demand,” says Robinson, a sales negotiator at Simon Blyth estate agents’ Barnsley branch. “At one semi-detached house in Higham recently, we had 75 viewings.”
It is no secret that the select rural villages to the Pennine west of Barnsley – such as Cawthorne, Silkstone, Silkstone Common and Hoylandswaine – have long been desirable.
They are in the catchment area for the highly-regarded non-selective Penistone Grammar School (Ofsted-rated good) and firmly in the countryside, with Cannon Hall museum and the famous Cannon Hall Farm – as seen on Channel Five’s This Week on The Farm – at the epicentre.
In Silkstone, Simon Blyth is marketing Noblethorpe Hall, a Grade II 10-bedroom mansion, for £1.5m.
However, the last year or so has seen an explosion of interest in once-overlooked adjoining semi-rural villages closer to Barnsley. The town centre is undergoing a £190m regeneration programme, The Glassworks. This promises a revamped market, major new stores and leisure facilities including a multiplex cinema.
Robert Watts, a valuer at the Barnsley branch of Hunters estate agency, said: “In Mapplewell, prices are up 20 to 30 per cent over the last two years. You’d now be looking at paying around £120,000 for a two-bed terraced.”
He thinks that the recently-extended stamp duty holiday is helping to bring the market to boiling point.
“People on furlough have managed to save money during the pandemic. And we have had people maxing their mortgages. All this might come back to bite people though, when the stamp duty break comes to an end and if interest rates go up.”
Meanwhile, there is a good variety of stock in Mapplewell and similar villages, from period cottages to new-build developments, attracting buyers at all price points. In Barugh Green, for example, Barratt is building new three and four-bedroomed homes, with prices between £236,995 and £297,995 at Lock Keeper’s Gate.
Watts and Robinson agree that these rejuvenated villages are generally attracting a younger, livelier demographic than their more mature neighbours.
Twentysomething couples and families with small children like the community atmosphere and local socialising, enjoying the growing number of gastropubs, brew-shops, independent florists, bakeries and other services.
Working from home means an increased demand for flexible living space and larger gardens, but this north-west side of Barnsley is well-placed for regular commuters too, being convenient for the M1 at Junction 37 or 38.
There are also railway stations at Darton for direct services to Leeds (average journey time 48 minutes) and Sheffield (41 minutes), Dodworth, also with Sheffield trains (36 minutes) and a direct train to Huddersfield (43 minutes).
'It's about lifestyle'
“We now have two kinds of buyers,” says Richard Crossfield, director of Fine & Country’s estate agency in Barnsley.
“We have people who have strong local roots, who may have gone away to university and will now be returning to raise their families. They will know where they want to live.
“And then we have people moving to the area because it is convenient. They have no preconceptions and will receive suggestions [of where to look] better.”
This outside factor is helping to diversify the market in Barnsley. In coming years, Crossfield agrees that this could also bring other overlooked villages, particularly those to the south of the town centre – such as Tankersley, Pilley, Blacker Hill, Platts Common and Worsbrough – fresh cachet.
“It’s all about lifestyle,” he says. “That’s what people are buying into now.”