Listed as one of the best places to live in the north, Wetherby looks set to be hotter than ever. Sharon Dale reports.
With a prime position in the rarefied Golden Triangle, Wetherby has long been a Yorkshire property hotspot.
Now, thanks to its new ranking at number 10 in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the North and North East, even more homehunters are turning their attention to the town and its satellite villages.
It may not have a train station but apart from the lack of rail links, it offers just about everything a discerning buyer could want. There is Georgian architecture, an attractive town centre, waterside walks, two good primary schools, a top racecourse, golf and tennis clubs, a leisure centre and the A1 on the doorstep.
It is within half an hour’s drive of Leeds and York and is 20 minutes from Harrogate. A magnet for those who work in Leeds, it’s also a haven for retirees. Almost a third of the population, 29 per cent, is over 65.
One of the biggest attractions is that Wetherby is self-contained and has its own identity. It has a Morrisons supermarket and national chains such as Costa and Ask but it also boasts a wealth of independent shops, cafes and restaurants.
Andrew Beadnall, founder of Beadnall Copley estate agency, has lived in Wetherby since 1968 and has sold and re-sold many of the town’s properties. He says: “It is has always been popular. It is incredibly well located and accessibility is phenomenal thanks to the A1, which links to the M1 and M62.
“It’s a lovely place to live and very unspoilt. The town centre is charming with good independent shops and a Farmers’ Market. We also have a bandstand, walks by the river and cycling paths along the old railway line.”
Paul Baxter, manager of Dacre, Son and Hartley, agrees: “We get a lot of people moving out of Leeds to Wetherby. It’s the first attractive, self-contained place outside the city. The most popular property type is the bungalow. When one comes onto the market people are fighting in lumps over it.”
While baby boomers are loaded with equity, first-time buyers struggle to get a foot on the property ladder in Wetherby. The starting price is about £155,000 for a flat, while mid-market homes are priced from £350,000.
Retirees love the apartment blocks overlooking the river and are happy to pay a premium for them. Beadnall Copley has just sold one for £600,000. There is also huge demand for detached, family-size homes in the town and surrounding villages.
The most desirable villages include Linton, Collingham, Boston Spa and Kirk Deighton. Linton was the first choice for footballers when Leeds United was riding high in the Premier League.
Andrew Beadnall was the “go-to” agent for players hunting for an upmarket home. If he ever revealed all in a memoir, there would be some interesting tales of eye-popping excess.
The legacy is still there in properties that underwent multi-million pound makeovers. For those looking to buy in Linton and Wetherby, the pickings are slim. There is a lack of homes on the market and little chance of new development due to a lack of sites, though plans have been put forward for an 800 home village near Thorp Arch.
“It’s a nationwide problem. People say they can’t find anything to move to so they don’t put their homes on the market. It’s a classic Catch 22,” says Andrew Beadnall. “That’s why prices are firm. There’s no doubt that this is a sellers market.”