As it gears up for the Tour de Yorkshire, there’s a new buzz about the land of the white rose
By Tim Palmer | Telegraph | 01 May 2015
The joyful scenes last year when the Tour de France transformed Yorkshire into a riot of colour and celebration turned the old cliché of a dour, inward-looking county on its head. The cyclists are back this weekend – and although a proud Yorkshireman pays little heed to what goes on outside its boundaries, the county is suddenly attracting attention from far and wide.
House prices across the region rose by more than 5 per cent in 2014. They are now above the level they were at before the 2008 downturn – and much of the interest in purchasing is from elsewhere in Britain.
The Tour de France climbs Holme Moss, between Sheffield and Huddersfield
“In 2010, 33 per cent of buyers were from outside Yorkshire. Last year it was 46 per cent,” says Tim Waring of Knight Frank in Harrogate.
Ben Pridden from Savills agrees. “As a marketplace, Yorkshire has changed beyond belief. Sales in our office have nearly tripled since last year. We’re not troubled by the uncertainty surrounding the election: that only affects areas where £2 million houses are commonplace,” he says.
So what is behind the growth? It’s probably not Yorkshire pudding or Betty’s Tearooms, which were among the county’s greatest attractions in one recent survey.
Picture gallery: Tour de France fever hits Yorkshire
Read: Who will in the Tour de Yorkshire
The crucial factor is its size. It’s got a buzzing employment centre in Leeds and fast-improving ones in Sheffield and Hull, plus lively market towns, thriving villages, beautiful coastline and, in the Dales and Moors, truly stunning scenery. It’s a microcosm of the best England has to offer – with stronger tea.
But that isn’t the whole story. Much of the interest is from exiled Yorkshirefolk beginning to return home, attracted by improving transport links.
“If you’ve got a couple who are moving up from London, you usually find that one of them has a connection, whether it’s family, friends or jobs,” says Mark Manning, of Fine & Country in Leeds.
If you are thinking of moving – or moving back – to Yorkshire, where are the prime areas?
Knaresborough, near Harrogate, is in the heart of Yorkshire’s Golden Triangle
The golden triangle
The most desirable part of Yorkshire stretches north of Leeds to Harrogate and York. It includes towns and villages handy for commuting to Leeds and a clutch of leading schools, state and private. It’s almost a mirror image of Yorkshire’s other triangle – the rhubarb one – to the south, where properties are almost half the price.
Tim Waring talks of the most sought-after area as the “golden diamond” between Leeds, Ilkley, Harrogate and Wetherby. This includes super-prime villages such as Scarcroft (average property price £723,000, according to Rightmove) and Collingham, near Wetherby, which is a favourite of Leeds’ premiership footballers. A detached house there will set you back £470,000.
According to figures from Savills, Harrogate has the most expensive houses in Yorkshire. Prices average £276,000, up by 13.7 per cent in five years. It’s not hard to see why. The spa town’s Georgian architecture, shops, restaurants and cafés have made it a magnet for buyers in search of city living on a manageable scale. Rightmove recently voted it the happiest community in Britain.
“It used to be known as a genteel retirement town, but now it’s the dormitory town for the whole West Yorkshire conurbation,” says Waring.
York: just two hours from London by train
If Harrogate is the most sought-after location in Yorkshire, York is its biggest rival. Although property is cheaper (average £225,000), prices have risen by 17.9 per cent in the past five years. Like Harrogate, it’s hugely historic, but here buyers are attracted less by the lifestyle than the easy train journey to London (less than two hours). Another draw is a booming university and leading schools.
“One in 10 of our buyers still works in London. If you have a £2.5 million house in Fulham, you can buy an equivalent property here, pay off the mortgage and perhaps still have enough to buy a flat in London,” says Ben Pridden.
Leeds is the financial powerhouse of the north. Its economy – and property market – suffered badly during the recession, but things are picking up. Prices rose by 6.5 per cent last year. According to Mark Manning of Fine & Country, the best areas are in the north and west of the city. Suburbs such as Shadwell, Alwoodley retain a village feel, and houses can fetch in excess of £2 million. Nearer the centre, Roundhay remains a sought-after spot, while a new branch of Waitrose is having a predictable effect in the rising suburb of Meanwood.
The contrasting resorts of Whitby (Dracula, world-beating fish and chips) and Scarborough (faded grandeur, Alan Ayckbourn) are Yorkshire’s most famous, but according to Andrew Turner of Smiths Gore, the real magnets are farther north. Sandsend is a hotspot for family second homes. “I know people who have holidayed there every year for 30 years, and property sells like hot cakes,” he says.
Whitby: home of Dracula and world-beating fish and chips
Prices in Sheffield have risen by almost 10 per cent in five years – a sign that it is finally recovering after the recession and the decline in the Eighties of the steel industry. There is no better sign of this than the redevelopment of the old Orgreave Colliery site, scene of one of the bitterest battles in the 1984 miners’ strike. It has been rebranded as Waverley, home to advanced industry – including Rolls-Royce and Boeing – and 4,000 new homes. The prime properties are on the west of the city where the Peak District National Park is just 20 minutes from suburbs such as Eccleshall and Ranmoor.
If you were looking for a bargain, you could do worse than explore the hearty countryside between Sheffield and Huddersfield, where the university’s success is giving the town a boost. The most sought-after properties are a few miles to the south, in handsome villages such as Homfirth – made famous by Last of the Summer Wine. Detached houses there sell for about £360,000, according to Rightmove. It’s a bit cheaper farther south. In the market town of Penistone (no sniggering), you can expect to pay £235,000. Buyers come in search of the excellent schools and easy access to Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds, says Richard Crossfield of Fine & Country.
At £107,000, the average house is cheaper in Hull than anywhere in the county, according to Savills. But according to Robert Beercock, of Beercock, Wiles and Wick, the grand old fishing city gets a raw deal from the statistics. “The boundary is very tight. If you include the villages to the north, towards Beverley, it becomes much like any other northern city. In fact, we have very few deprived areas.” A stint as City of Culture in 2017 should improve its prospects further.
Read: is Northumberland the best place in the UK to raise a family?
Picture gallery: from mansion to shoebox. What you can get for £1m around the country
Buyers with an eye for a bargain might find what they’re looking for in the countryside to the east of York. The town of Helmsley (average price £275,000) is popular with downsizers. Not far away is Malton, which is working hard to become a foodiea food festival and TV chef James Martin presides over the local hotel. It’s more affordable than York (average price £210,000) and only 30 minutes away by the train.