England?s market towns command higher house prices than other towns in the same county, according to the annual Halifax Market Town Review. The figures show that 73% of market towns have higher average house prices and stronger growth rates than other towns in their area. The South boasts the most expensive market towns, according to Halifax; Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire topped the list with an average house price of £574,000, closely followed by Winchcombe in Gloucestershire (£324,717) and Cranbrook in Kent (£317,000).

Market towns are defined by Halifax and the Campaign to Protect Rural England as ?rural towns with a population of between 3,000 and 30,000? and ?have or have once had a market?. ?Home buyers continue to be attracted to the high quality of life offered by market towns and are prepared to pay a premium to live there,? explained Colin Kemp of Halifax Estate Agents. ?Most market towns have higher house prices than other towns in their county and the majority have also seen stronger house price growth than the English average over the past five years.?

Although market towns in the south and south east proved to be the most expensive, those in northern England have seen the strongest gains over the past five years. Stanhope in County Durham has seen the strongest growth over the last five years, with an increase of 152%.

‘Over the last few years we have been experiencing a drift away from major city conurbations,’ explained Colin Scott from Woolley & Wallis in the market town of Ringwood, ‘but a move deep into the more rural areas and villages has proved too drastic and “market towns” where there are shopping and professional facilities have proved to be the most attractive option.’

Britain?s 10 Most Expensive Market Towns(average house prices)

Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire South East £574,211

Winchcombe Gloucestershire South West £324,717

Cranbrook Kent South East £317,290

Ringwood Hampshire South East £315,142

Bakewell Derbyshire East Midlands £305,975

Petersfield Hampshire South East £302,788

Tetbury Gloucestershire South West £301,951

Midhurst West Sussex South East £295,495

Kingsbridge Devon South West £295,100

West Malling Kent South East £292,888