It always features in the top ten places to live in Britain. No wonder Skipton is a property hotspot. Sharon Dale reports.
Skipton has always been a popular place to live thanks to its schools, amenities, transport links and its prime position on the doorstep of the Dales.Now it’s one of Yorkshire’s top property hotspots thanks to creeping gentrification and an impressive collection of accolades that have boosted the town’s profile.
It regularly features in the top ten of the Sunday Times annual Best Places to Live in Britain and took first place in 2014. Last year, the National Campaign for Courtesy named it the UK’s most courteous town and earlier this year it was awarded Best Small Outdoor Market.
The signs of gentrification are all there. Marks & Spencer opened a food store, fashionable, independent coffee chain Filmore & Union has a branch on the high street. Newly-opened Alexander’s bar and restaurant is very stylish and promises “relaxed fine dining at its best”.
While retail chains have clearly targeted the town, there are still some exceptional independents, including Stanforths butchers, which is famous for its pork pies.
Estate agents say that the two grammar schools Ermysted’s and Skipton Girls High School the biggest draw for family buyers. Amanda May, manager of Dale Eddison estate agents, says: “Skipton has a diverse array of buyers but the schools are the biggest attraction. We also get a lot of early retirees and many are returning to Yorkshire after working away. They look at the region and pinpoint Skipton because it’s buzzing.
“It’s changed a lot over the last five years and it now offers everything they want, including low insurance premiums because it has a low crime rate.”
She cites one couple who came for a day out and bought a house within minutes of seeing it.
Prices reflect Skipton’s enhanced appeal to the middle classes and property that is valued at the right price does not hang around for long.
Rightmove reports that Skipton prices have risen by eight per cent year-on-year, almost double the Yorkshire average of 4.5 per cent. The average house price in the market town is now £214,848. The cheapest homes are one-bedroom apartments from £100,000, two-bedroom terraced homes are about £140,000 and semi-detached properties range from £200,000 to £300,000.
There is a shortage of homes for sale, especially at the top end of the market, according to Tim Usherwood, manager of Dacre, Son and Hartley’s Skipton branch.
He adds that apartments at a new conversion, The Cotton Mill, on Broughton Road, are also selling fast and most are to owner-occupiers.
“We are seeing people buy them ahead of retirement and there are a lot of first-time buyers who are getting help from the bank of mum and dad.”
Transport links are one of the big draws as the mill is close to the railway station, which has regular services to Leeds and Bradford.
Other amenities in Skipton include the canal, Aireville Park, a theatre, cinema, sports clubs and societies, a library, further education college and a leisure centre with gym and pool.
Andrew Procter, of Hunters estate agency, says: “People come from all over the country to buy in Skipton. It really has got everything a buyer could wish for, except a big choice of properties. What there is gets snapped up very quickly.”