To Commute, or Not To Commute…

Posted on July 14, 2014 by suehall

england_british_flag_doorway_237415According to recent research from Lloyds Bank, commuters with an hour-long train journey into work save approximately £380,000 on the average house price compared with the cost of living in the capital.

A London property within zones one and two typically costs an average of £641,000. According to the research, homes in areas that are about 60-minutes away from the capital by train (such as Oxfordshire) typically cost about £260,000 – an enormous £381,000 less!

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company said: “Buyers looking for beautiful architecture, excellent schools and more square footage should consider Oxford. It is a fantastic city surrounded by some of the prettiest and most sought-after villages in the country. The difference in property prices between Oxfordshire and London means that many clients are surprised at how much more property they can get for their budget here. It can make it easier for parents with small children to take a career break, and professional couples can usually swap a one-bedroom flat in central London for a 4 or 5 bedroom property ideal for weekend house-parties!”

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Work to start on Banbury Retail Park

Posted on July 2, 2014 by suehall

old pubWork on a new retail park that will create between 800 and 1,000 jobs in Oxfordshire will start this September.

Banbury Gateway will house shops such as M&S, Next and Primark as well as a selection of popular restaurants on the former headquarters site of motorsport company Prodrive, alongside the M40.

It is anticipated that the retail park will be open by Christmas 2015.

Banbury is the main town serving North Oxfordshire and has a population of approximately 40,000. It is 64 miles north-west of London, 38 miles south-east of Birmingham and 21 miles north-northwest of Oxford. The M40 provides the town with easy access to London, Birmingham and the North and has contributed greatly to Banbury’s well-connected and affluent status.

The rather charmingly higgledy-piggledy town centre is home to the usual large chain stores as well as a number of small and independent shops down some of the quieter winding alleys. A regular market takes place on Thursdays and Saturdays and a Farmers’ Market is held on the first Friday of every month.

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company said: “During the summer the canal is a wonderful place to enjoy long evenings and the relaxed pace of life that Banbury is prized for. There are some wonderful medieval to 18th century homes in the centre of town for buyers yearning for character and a good old-fashioned local pub! There are also several lovely enclaves of Victorian architecture as well as brand-new, executive style homes – so something to suit every taste. Banbury is a fantastic town – it offers great value and it is under an hour by train from London Marylebone!”

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Former England Cricket Coach Joins Stratford

Posted on June 18, 2014 by suehall

wickets_55831Cricket-mad youngsters from all over the country will be begging their parents to move to Stratford –upon-Avon as the Warwickshire club is delighted to welcome a world-class coach to their team.   

Stratford-Upon-Avon Cricket Club has secured the services of former England coach Andy Flower for their weekday training sessions at Swans Nest Lane. 

After ending his tenure as England coach in January this year, he is looking forward to spending more time at his home near Stratford and has volunteered to help coach the first team who play in the Birmingham and District League.  

Stratford-upon-Avon Cricket Club has played at the same venue for almost 120 years. Tree-lined and overlooked by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, it is one of the most picturesque grounds in the region, and has played host to a number of Warwickshire’s First Class matches, as well as a women’s One Day International.     

The Club also has a thriving junior section. This season they are running eight sides from U10 to U17, and will be competing in the Warwickshire Cricket Board competitions. 

In an interview with the Herald, Andy Flower said: “In my time with England I never had the chance to belong to a local sports club and get involved with the community because of the intensity of the job. I was away from home for 250 nights a year, which is not healthy especially when you have a young family. 

“So when Stratford got in touch with me with a view to helping out I saw it as a chance to put something back into the game that has served me so well…I have told the club that I will try and make as many practice nights as possible when my work allows it. There is a great spirit amongst the players and a great level of commitment as well. I enjoy their company and it’s a chance to improve some talented young guys. I think the club is moving in the right direction both on and off the field under the new set-up and I’m happy to help out.” 

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company said: “What an incredible opportunity for Stratford’s first eleven and local young players coming up through the club to benefit from the experience of one of the world’s top coaches!” 

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Warwickshire or Oxfordshire, contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Aston Martin £20m Investment in Warwickshire Base

Posted on June 2, 2014 by suehall

british_flags_186421The best-of-British luxury car brand most famously associated with James Bond, Aston Martin was originally founded in London in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The firm’s cars are made in a number of countries, but design and engineering still takes place mainly at their British headquarters in Warwickshire.

This week Aston Martin have announced that they will be investing £20 million in new manufacturing facilities at their UK base in Gaydon, Warwickshire.  They also expect to create 250 extra jobs this year.

The state-of-the-art extension incudes the creation of a new chassis and pilot build facility, new offices and an extension of the parts and logistics storage area. The new facilities, which are expected to be completed in 2015, will cover an extra 10,000 square meters, or nearly two-and-a-half acres.

Aston Martin’s chief financial officer, Hanno Kirner said: “The investment in our Gaydon HQ forms part of our long-term strategy which is focused around being the number one British luxury sports car brand.” He added: “We have confirmed that the coming years will see Aston Martin implementing the biggest investment programme in the 101-year history of the brand, with a plan to invest over £500 million into the company’s next generation of high performance sports cars.”

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Warwickshire and Oxfordshire office said: “Gaydon is an unassuming little village near Leamington Spa which had a population of 376 in the 2001 census. It is incredible to think that it now finds itself at the centre of a car enthusiast’s paradise! Not only is it home to the iconic Aston Martin brand, Jaguar Land Rover also has an engineering centre here and the beautiful 65-acre Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon is home to the largest collection of historic British cars in the world.”

Stephen went on to say: “It is wonderful news for British manufacturing and for Warwickshire that Aston Martin plan to expand their operations so significantly. With nearby Jaguar Land Rover going from strength to strength as well, the talented local workforce looks poised to benefit greatly.”

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Warwickshire or Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Raymond Blanc Supports Thame Food Festival

Posted on May 28, 2014 by suehall

berreis_fruits_of_the_forest_network_214646Country fayres and farmers’ markets are part of England’s heritage.  Thame, a traditional English market town on South Oxfordshire’s northern border, has more than its fair share. The two-day charter fair in October dates back to medieval times and the annual food and literary festivals are highlights of the local calendar.  

This year’s Thame Food festival will be held in September. But to get things off to a flying start, celebrity chef Raymond Blanc has offered to host a Champagne tea and tour of Le Manoir gardens in Great Milton for forty guests in June. If you are stuck for a fathers’ day gift for a food-loving dad – this could be just the thing! Proceeds of the £90 tickets will be donated to Thames 2014 Food Festival, where Blanc will also be doing a demonstration and mingling with the crowd.

Local food is big in Thame. There is a thriving weekly market, monthly farmers’ markets and regular livestock markets as well as September’s annual Food Festival. The festival, which started in 2008 with a handful of stalls, now has 150 food producers and other stallholders, who have to satisfy the organisers that they are offering local produce, or have a local link.  

One of the aims of the food festival is to bring people to this beautiful part of Oxfordshire. It is certainly worth a visit – a quintessential English market town with an impressive range of independent shops, pubs, tearooms and restaurants. Foodies will be particularly impressed by the fine dining at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in nearby Great Milton, holder of two Michelin stars. 

The picturesque town is a popular location for filming television programmes such as Midsomer Murders and the town hall regularly appears at its alter-ego Causton town hall. It has three primary schools: Barley Hill Primary School, John Hampden Primary School and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School as well as one county secondary, Lord Williams’ School. Trains to London leave from Haddenham and Thame Parkway station and the fastest London Marylebone trains take about 39 minutes.

 

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Oxford University spends £1.8 billion on new facilities

Posted on May 21, 2014 by suehall

oxford_college_christchurch_collegeOxford University aims to maintain its position as one of the world’s elite educational institutions by investing £1.8 billion in new facilities.

In order to compete with international competitors such as Harvard and Yale, Oxford University’s ten year investment strategy will include new laboratories, libraries, study zones and student accommodation.

It is anticipated that the scheme will increase the current university estate by more than 25% and attract an even greater number of talented students and world-class lecturers to the city of Oxford.

Speaking to the BBC, the university’s estate manager Paul Goffin said: “In order to compete with the best universities in the world to attract top students and academics to Oxford, we need to provide suitable research facilities and student accommodation.  

“We are pleased that jobs will be created in the construction and staffing of these buildings, and that our aim to house as many students as possible in university accommodation will ease the burden on Oxford’s rental market.” 

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company said: “Oxford University is both a national institution and an international success story. Students and academics are drawn to its grand architecture, quality teaching and beautiful setting. The enduring popularity of television programmes like Inspector Morse; Lewis; and most recently Endeavour have showcased the stunning city of Oxford to a wider audience. Provided the correct consultation process is put in place before building starts, upgrading the facilities and creating additional purpose-built student accommodation will help to ease the pressure on a heated property market.”  

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

 

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Dungeons and Dragons in Warwick

Posted on May 12, 2014 by suehall

We are fond of saying that an Englishman’s home is his castle, but for those who crave a genuine piece of Mediaeval architecture, Warwickshire is a wonderful place to start the search.

Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, is steeped in history. Well-known for its magnificent Castle, it is also home to many other historic buildings, secret gardens, independent shops and museums, making the town a superb place to visit.

As you might expect of an ancient town, life continues to revolve aroundthe busy market square which hosts numerous events throughout the year as well as the Charter Market and monthly Farmers’ Market. The Market Hall Museum is located in the centre of the town, and is surrounded by a wonderful selection of antique shops, cafes and restaurants. In fact Warwick has an excellent reputation as a place to enjoy a good meal and decent glass of wine.

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company said: “Warwick is home to what I believe is the most impressive castle in the country. It is certainly a mediaeval experience not to be missed. Along with the towers, ramparts, dungeons, state rooms, jousting tournaments and year-round entertainment, the Castle also sits in 60 acres of glorious gardens to explore and enjoy.”

For buyers who dream of owning a home with a real sense of history, Warwick has a great deal of choice. There are manor houses overlooking the castle, 17th century Grade II-listed townhouses on cobbled streets, beautiful stone houses filled with character including exposed beams, wood burning fires and gorgeous window architecture as well a whole range of more contemporary homes for those who prefer minimalist living and mod-cons. London Marylebone is just over an hour by train and it is about 23 miles to Birmingham.

There is an excellent range of state, private and grammar schools in the area to suit most requirements including Warwick Boys, Warwick Prep, Kings High School for Girls, and Myton School. In addition, parents may like to consider Kingsley School in Leamington Spa, or Princethorpe College, Rugby School and The Croft Prep School in Stratford upon Avon.

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Warwickshire or Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Owning the Dream: Georgian Living in Leamington Spa

Posted on by suehall

KF2-2002What is the most desirable style of architecture in the UK? According to estate agents, the Georgian era is widely regarded as the most sought-after period.

Lucian Cook, director of residential research at Savills told the BBC News Magazine: “Georgian often comes out on top – there’s something about the grandeur of great Georgian cities that means it’s always popular. For this reason, many places with large stocks of such buildings, like Edinburgh, Bath and Brighton, tend to attract London-style prices.”

But for many of us, this preference is an aspirational fantasy. Owning a grand Regency townhouse or a former Georgian Vicarage is difficult to imagine, unless of course, you look to some of the lesser-known towns that offer the requisite age and charm without the price-tag to match.

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company suggests Leamington Spa as a wonderful example. He explains: “The Georgian period ran from 1660-1840. Town planning incorporated elegant squares and terraces – handsome, symmetrical architecture, tall windows and fanlights above front doors lent the property of this period a classical feel.

“Today Leamington is a thriving town often referred to as ‘Silicon Spa’ due to the high number of digital media companies who have made the area a global centre for the games industry.

Beyond the incredibly beautiful architecture and Georgian grandeur, it has the added advantage of accessibility to London. The 7.23am train from Leamington Spa gets you to London Marylebone in 1 hour and 6 minutes with no stops!”

Facts About Leamington Spa:

  • Leamington was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) but remained a small agricultural village until its spa fame in the late eighteenth century.
  • Leamington’s spa waters were well known for making bread and preserving meat but they were also believed to cure rabies!
  • As an eleven year old Princess, Queen Victoria spent her first overnight stay in a public building in Leamington.
  • Number 6, Clarendon Square was once home to Prince Louis Napolean who became Napolean III.
  • The very first lawn tennis club in England was formed in Leamington in 1872 at the Manor House Hotel.

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Warwickshire or Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Transporting Oxford into the Future

Posted on April 24, 2014 by suehall

 

A French-style tram

A French-style tram

According to the Oxford Times, a pedestrianised St Giles and George Street could find themselves at the heart of a car-free central Oxford, with trams running out to the airport and a passenger rail-link to Cowley.

Oxfordshire County Council has unveiled a bold new vision that will radically transform the city’s transport systems for 2020 and beyond. Council leader Ian Hudspeth has called for the transformation of the city centre, with the prospect of a pedestrianised area stretching right across the heart of the city – from St Giles’s junction with Banbury and Woodstock Roads to the new John Lewis store in Thames Street, in a redeveloped Westgate shopping centre.

Mr Hudspeth said: “I would love to see St Giles transformed into a more continental style boulevard. I would like it to be a place that the city could be proud of.”

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office said: “A 21st century transport system is vital if Oxfordshire is to continue to thrive in the future. The investment in transport needs to match growth in jobs, housing and our world-famous ‘knowledge economy’ beyond 2020. Over the next 10-15 years, around 80,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes are expected to come to the county. Places like Bicester are set to double in size. This is an opportunity to put strategic infrastructure into place, ease congestion and connect key locations around the county.”

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Oxfordshire, please contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Stratford Food Festival

Posted on April 23, 2014 by suehall

cheese_on_market_189137Stratford-upon-Avon’s popular Food Festival will be returning in May for its eighth year, but with an exciting new format.

This year it will be held at the racecourse where visitors will have the opportunity to watch the races at the same time as they sample the wide range of British produce on offer around the course.

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of the County Homesearch Company’s Warwickshire office said: “Stratford Racecourse is a wonderful, small summer jumps racecourse that hosts 17 racing fixtures each year between March and October. The focus is on family fun, and summer racedays often attract family groups who picnic in the centre of the course and enjoy the free children’s entertainment throughout the day. Many top trainers and jockeys come here, and combining some of the evening meets with the Food Festival is a good way to give visitors and locals a great day out.”

Last year the festival attracted 14,000 visitors over two days. With the help of the horse racing, organisers are hoping to attract over 20,000 during this year’s three day event. The Food and Racing Festival will take place on Friday 30th May, Saturday 31st May and Sunday 1st June 2014. 

Steph Reed from Showplace Events said: “We’ve taken the approach to focus on artisan chefs, local, regional and national. The actual producers of the food, that’s what we’re focusing on.”

The Lazy Cow is one of the main exhibitors, and the Real Ale and cider tent is expected to be popular.

Johnsons Coaches are offering a shuttle bus from Stratford Train Station and Rother Street to the racecourse throughout the event. A return ticket will cost £1.50 and 50p from each one goes to The Shakespeare Hospice.

On Friday 30th May the food festival is open from 4pm-9pm and racing starts at 6pm. On Saturday 31st the festival is from 1pm-9pm and racing again starts at 6pm. Tickets will cost £10 per adult, giving visitors admission to both the food festival and the races, while all children under 18 go free.

Sunday’s festival is from 10am-4pm and is free to enter. There is no racing on the final day.

 

If you are interested in buying a home or investment property in Warwickshire or Oxfordshire, contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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