There’s a lot more to this quaint relation of Leeds and York than Victorian architecture and cakes, finds Arabella Youens.

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The bright lights and busy streets of our capital city can only keep a Yorkshireman diverted for so long, it would appear, before he’s drawn back to his roots—or so the sales figures from Strutt & Parker’s Harrogate office would indicate. ‘Between 30% and 35% of our town-centre sales are to buyers moving back up from London,’ explains James Wort. ‘We’ve seen a good number of hedge-fund managers and professionals from the banking sector who feel that they don’t need to be in London full-time anymore. They will perhaps do four days a week there and move the family up here.’

He adds: ‘Since the Brexit vote, we’ve noticed an increase in numbers coming North. The affordability of Harrogate, York and Leeds is attractive: you can buy two or three houses for the price of one London house and get a better quality of life for your family.’ Tony Wright of Carter Jonas’s local office is upbeat about the market in Harrogate. ‘It’s like bees to a honeypot at the moment. Whether they’re relocating or downsizing from a large country house to the town centre, there is pent-up demand for houses.’

He puts this down to the cosmopolitan style of the town, which has visibly improved over the past few years, with more of a cafe culture, good pubs and restaurants and an interesting mix of independent shops. ‘Plus you’ve got 200 acres of The Stray, which surrounds the old town, and some of the finest parts of the countryside on the doorstep. It’s a really lovely place to live.’

Best addresses

Key addresses include Park Avenue, Regent Parade, York Place and The Oval, where semi-detached and terraced houses sell for bet- ween £1 million and £2.5 million. Two further areas are Fulwith Mill, on the south side of Harrogate, where houses of between 4,000sq ft and 5,000sq ft sell for between £1 million and £3 million, and the Duchy, an area of large detached and semi-detached houses developed in the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods on land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.

For Daniel Rigg, who heads up Knight Frank’s office, the south of the town is proving very popular at the moment, driven by falling within the catchment zones of good schools and communications.

Also on the radar is Beech Grove, a street that runs along the west of The Stray. ‘It has a number of purpose-built apartment blocks that offer lateral space overlooking the park, with a lift and secure parking. It’s about as central as you can get while ticking all the boxes.’ Values in Beech Grove have gone from £400,000 up to £900,000 in the past few years, according to James. ‘They’re perfect for anyone looking to downsize.’

Schools

According to the latest analysis from Savills Research, Harrogate is the top location in its region (Yorkshire & The Humber) in terms of percentage of pupils in high-performing schools (although it’s fallen out of the top 10 local authorities nationally). Daniel believes parents are ‘spoilt for choice’. State primaries that get talked about include Rossett Acre and Western Primary and Harrogate Grammar School, St John Fisher Catholic High School and St Aidan’s CofE High School are among the best secondaries. In the independent sector, there’s Brackenfield, Ashville College and Harrogate Ladies’ College.

Butcher, baker, coffee maker

Like many other regional hotspots, Harrogate caters splendidly for those addicted to their morning cup of coffee, but the town isn’t known as the ‘tearoom Mecca’ for nothing. Crowning all others is Bettys, established in 1919 by Frederick Belmont with, in the company’s own words, a successful blend of ‘Swiss confectionery and Yorkshire hospitality’.

Today, there are more than 300 breads, cakes and chocolates to gorge on while contemplating walking it all off afterwards on The Stray (or head to the other cafe at RHS Garden Harlow Carr for further acreage to explore).

But the story doesn’t end with Bettys: ‘Over the past 12–18 months, we’ve seen the town centre go bananas with new cafes and restaurants opening,’ says James. Recommendations include Bean & Bud, Weetons, a deli and coffee shop, and Marconi. Stuzzi and Baltzersen’s are all-day cafes and William & Victoria is a nice wine bar.

Addyman’s the butcher, Leng’s the grocer and The Cheeseboard should stem the need to go to Waitrose too often.

Out and about

The Harrogate Theatres collaboration launched in 2012, linking together Harrogate Theatre, the Studio Theatre and the Royal Hall—with the more recent addition of the Harrogate International Centre in 2014. The latter attracts world-class British and international acts to its 2,000-seat auditorium. As part of the redevelopment of Station Parade, an Everyman cinema opened in the city centre last Friday. Outdoor fairs and mini festivals set up in The Stray and Valley Gardens. Finally, although not strictly cultural, the town boasts fine Victorian-era Turkish baths on Parliament Street.

Hyde Park homesick

There’s no shortage of green space in the town and the Yorkshire Dales lie a mere 15–20-minute drive away, but the best place to both dog walk and entertain children is Valley Gardens, which has recently undergone some renovation work to its large playground.

Need to know

The town is at something of a development crossroads, with pressure on to build more houses and a few sites that have been granted planning permission to build 600– 700 new homes. Locals are worried about the congestion that this might cause on a town that has no bypass (discussions are under way).

On the market

Grade II listed house for sale, £825,000
harrogate
Watersmeet on Promenade Square is an attractive Grade II- listed, four-bedroom house, which has views towards Valley Gardens. The kitchen/ breakfast room overlooks a pretty courtyard garden.
Strutt & Parker (01423 706771)

Spacious Edwardian house for sale, £1.075 million
harrogateWithin easy walking distance from the town centre is this double-fronted Edwardian house, which has six bedrooms, three bathrooms and a small garden. There is a garage with space for additional accommodation, subject to planning.
Knight Frank (01423 593708)

Stylish modern property for sale, £2.95 million
harrogateThis modern, stone-built house on Fulwith Mill Lane is a sizeable 7,266sq ft, set in a garden of just under an acre with an indoor swimming pool. The house currently has five bedrooms and four bathrooms, with the opportunity to create two further bedrooms on the top floor.
Carter Jonas (01423 523423)

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