South-East

While Hampshire?s hotspots are well established, the counties of Kent and Sussex have struggled in recent years due to Government investment in road and rail infrastructure. This is set to change for the better and worse. Housing developments and Gatwick Airport expansion plans are casting shadows over the property market in Sussex, but coastal Kent and East Sussex will benefit from the high-speed rail link into London?s St Pancras station.

South-West

Hotspots here are ?positively incandescent? compared to the rest of the country with four West Country cities among the ten fastest-growing in Britain. Daily flights to New York from Bristol and the likely expansion of Exeter airport will maintain the region as a major growth area. We predict the north Devon coast around lfracombe as well as the A303 corridor in Dorset to become increasingly popular.

North-East

Newcastle?s boom has had a knock-on effect on country-house prices. Villages around Alnwick, where supply is low and prices are high, remain a good bet, with Whittingham, Rothbury and Wooler looking like promising prospects. Prices are expected to level in Tyne Valley villages after years of fast growth.

North-West

Prices are already rising in Malpas ?which has just seen the opening of a new restaurant/delicatessen ? always a good sign?. And the continued expansion of the Chester business park will keep houses prices high in the city. The relocation of Whitehall civil servants as well as BBC employees will boost the property market in Manchester and surrounding areas.

North

The York/Ascot connection is likely to focus attention on the area around York and may drive up asking prices. Improved communications have pushed back the boundaries of the Leeds-York commuter belt, which now embraces villages to the north of Harrogate and around Ripon.

The Midlands

Northamptonshire was the ?undisputed star? of the East Midlands country-house market in 2004 although the building of thousands of new homes along the A43 and an asylum centre in the Piddington area of Bicester will put the brakes on house prices growth. The area around Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire is up-and-coming with appeal to both Birmingham and London buyers. The Cotswolds will always be hot in property terms, but the news is that Cheltenham has become even hotter with its increasingly sought-after Regency squares.

East Anglia

Towns and villages between London and Peterborough will be seriously affected by the proposed construction of nearly half a million house. rural property values in the area surrounding Stansted airport, should the expansion go ahead. South Lincolnshire is a relatively well-kept secret and a good grammar school, cheaper Council Tax and excellent rail facilities have house prices in and around Grantham rising steadily.

The full article is published in today’s issue of COUNTRY LIFE (January 6, 2005)