Warwickshire fields two of the top places to live in Britain

Posted on April 8, 2014 by suehall

KF2-2002Royal Leamington Spa and Barford are amongst the ten best places to live in the Midlands according to a recent list published by The Sunday Times.

The two Warwickshire locations were named in the top 101 Best Places to Live in Britain by The Sunday Times. The newspaper’s home editor, Helen Davies, said: “The Best Places guide is dedicated to celebrating Britain’s abundance of great cities, towns and villages. We combine in-depth data with personal experience to produce an authoritative list. There are lots of places across Britain worth celebrating and this year our supplement covers everything from the countryside to inner cities.”

According to The Sunday Times, Royal Leamington Spa is “like a pocket Bath or Cheltenham”. They went on to say, “this spa town has elegant Regency terraces, immaculate parks, good restaurants and bags of shops – from stylish big brands to independents with a splash of originality.” And just half an hour from Birmingham by train, the town also boasts “outstanding” schools.

Stephen Wolfenden, Warwickshire home finder and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s local office says: “Wide boulevards, Georgian and Edwardian architecture and beautiful parks provide a sophisticated backdrop to this Regency shopping paradise. Royal Leamington Spa is a real hidden gem. It is often described as having the best bits of London within a ten-minute walk, as it contains all the boutiques and national chains you would expect to find in a large city. It really does offer the best of both worlds for those who want urban conveniences as well as easy access to family-friendly outdoor pursuits in the surrounding countryside.”

Stephen went on to say that finding a home in Leamington or Barford is much easier with the guidance of a local buying agent. He added: “The most handsome houses close to the most sought-after schools do not come to the market every day. When they do, they can quietly change hands off-market or via a discreet campaign. The contacts of a buying agent provide you with a much better chance of viewing these properties, and it signals to sellers that you are both genuine and proceedable.”

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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Investment in Oxfordshire Homes and Jobs

Posted on March 31, 2014 by suehall

Thousands of new residential homes look likely to be built across Oxfordshire following the announcement of additional investment from the government.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)is investing £42 million in the Great Western Park in Didcot. In addition to 2,585 new homes, the money will also help to create three schools, a new university technical college, a new district centre and additional healthcare facilities.

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office said: “Unlocking Didcot’s potential and creating a further 16,000 skilled jobs in the area is wonderful news. Given that fast trains from Didcot to London take just 45 minutes, it is a great location for anyone looking to combine the best of both worlds and enjoy a better quality of life outside the capital. However, growing the county’s inbound economy can only add to the considerable appeal Oxfordshire already commands, attracting talent from all over the UK rather than just commuters.”

If you are moving to Oxfordshire or looking to purchase an investment property in the region, contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Oxford’s 18th Literary Festival

Posted on March 25, 2014 by suehall

magdalena_collage_oxford_237354Oxford, synonymous with learning and handsome architecture, also boasts a superb cultural scene. This week, thousands of book lovers have arrived in the city to pay homage to their favourite authors as Oxford hosts its 18th Literary Festival.

This year the festival features more than 400 speakers including BBC Radio 4’s James Naughtie, Oxford author Phillip Pullman and historian Lucy Worsley. 

Rather aptly, ‘Woodstock’ author and historian Melanie King will also be speaking about her new book, ‘Secrets in a Dead Fish’. The idea for the book came whilst King was researching another project at Oxford’s famous Bodleian library.  She said: “I was working on another project and found there were quite a lot of memoirs at the Bodleian that were written by World War One spies.”

Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages. Among them the Bodleian, the chief among the University’s libraries, has a special place.

First opened to scholars in 1602, it incorporates an earlier library erected by the University in the fifteenth century to house books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester. Since 1602 it has expanded, slowly at first but with increasing momentum over the last 150 years, to keep pace with the ever-growing accumulation of books and papers, but the core of the old buildings has remained intact.

These buildings are still used by students and scholars from all over the world. It is fitting that the inspiration for one of the main speakers at this year’s Literary Festival in Oxford was discovered in the depths of the Bodleian, one of the city’s oldest and best loved libraries.

If you are moving to Oxfordshire or looking to purchase an investment property in the region, contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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£107m Euromillions winner seeks home for fleet of supercars

Posted on March 18, 2014 by suehall

 red_sports_car_200689He is a car mechanic from South London, and winning the £107.9million Euromiilions jackpot will allow him to indulge his passion and buy a fleet of supercars including a McLaren.

But first, Neil Trotter and his partner Nicky Ottaway will be shopping for a new house, with plenty of garage space.  As well as an enormous garage, the couple’s new home needs to include stables for a horse or two, and have plenty of room for a horse trailer.

Stephen Wolfenden, home finder and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office said: “Where else would a self-confessed motor racing fanatic want to live other than Oxfordshire – the home of the UK’s Formula 1 industry! An hour from London by train, Oxfordshire offers the best of both worlds and is the perfect place to indulge a passion for horse-power – the four-legged and four-wheeled kind!”

Last year Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson made the headlines when he applied to knock down his West Oxfordshire home set in a seventy-acre plot to build a larger house with swimming pool, tennis court, orchard and croquet lawn. His new property will boast plenty of space for animals with existing stables in place and the plans also feature a gravelled courtyard and five garage spaces for Mr Clarkson’s fleet of luxury vehicles.

Clarkson said: “I have bought a farm. There are many sensible reasons for this. Land is a better investment than any bank can offer. The government doesn’t get any of my money when I die. But there is another, much more important reason: I can now have a quad bike. I have always loved the idea of such things. They are like motorbikes but they don’t fall over when you leave them alone…”

Stephen Wolfenden went on to say: “Investing some of the jackpot in property would be a very sensible move for Mr Trotter and his partner. Finding the right area, carrying out due diligence and ensuring that they will be happy in their new community are going to take time and patience to get right. It might be tempting to rush in and buy a bigger home quickly, but happiness isn’t something that money alone can buy. Finding the best area where they can put down roots, join the local community and enjoy their hobbies with like-minded locals will all count for more in the long-run.”

 

If you are moving to Oxfordshire or looking to purchase an investment property in the region, contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Moving to Oxford

Posted on March 5, 2014 by suehall

country_house_187305Confidence is rapidly returning to the Oxford market and the first quarter has witnessed a particularly strong start.

This confidence is especially evident in the fact that 35% of those who bought a property in Oxford and the surrounding villages during the past year were upsizing to larger family homes, whilst a huge proportion of UK regional buyers admitted that their main priority was still to downsize.

Almost half of all buyers were locals – those whose intimate knowledge of the Oxfordshire property market has been buoyed up by genuine evidence that the time to buy is now ripe.

Approximately 40% of buyers in the last 12 months came from London, cashing in on high prices to realise the golden opportunity to acquire their “forever home” in the country. And almost 15% of sales during the last year went to international buyers who led the bidding on some of Oxfordshire’s biggest estate sales in order to invest in Britain’s glorious countryside. 

According to Knight Frank, the number of houses currently coming to the market has increased by over 40% in comparison to last year. This is good news for Londoners hoping to achieve a move to the country and trying to compete for the best- in-class properties. It is also good news that the market continues to rise. Savills’ five year forecast (2013 – 2018) predicts prices will rise by 23.3% in Oxford and the surrounding area.

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office says: “Oxford and the surrounding villages offer just about everything that most London buyers require.  The commute is just a little over an hour. The schools are amongst the nation’s finest and most highly respected. The housing stock is of exceptional quality, and now that the proceeds of London sales go further than ever before, the lure of the grand country house is an irresistible draw. In addition, the surrounding Oxfordshire countryside offers families the idyllic outdoor lifestyle that they have long dreamed of.”

Stephen went on to say: “It is crucial to seek expert, independent advice when moving somewhere new and making what is likely to be the biggest investment of your life. Understanding the areas and choosing the location that is right for you and your family will help to ensure that your move is a success. Like London, the difference of a few streets in either direction can make all the difference.”

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

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Trams in Central Oxford?

Posted on March 4, 2014 by suehall

 

A French-style tram

A French-style tram

The leader of the city council, Bob Price, has proposed putting trams back on the streets of central Oxford by the end of the decade in a bid to remove diesel-powered buses from the streets.

In fact, horse- drawn trams used to operate in Oxford’s city centre until 1914. Buses were brought in to replace the system as additional routes were required and the process of electrification proved a stumbling block to an expanded tram network.  

Councillor Craig Simmons, leader of Oxford City Council’s Green Group is for the proposal. He said:In the past, the county council has given serious consideration to a Guided Transit Expressway (or GTE), essentially a bus running in a trackway. Milton Keynes is currently piloting a vehicle which looks like a lot like a bus but charges itself wirelessly from trackway buried under the road service. Is this a bus or a tram? The terminology is perhaps less important than the primary purpose – to get pollution levels down to acceptable levels.”

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office said: “Several UK cities, most notably Manchester, have successfully reintroduced trams to their city, although few possess the priceless architectural features of Oxford.  With care, there is no doubt that trams can revolutionise transport links in a town and greatly reduce congestion.”

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

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Work on high-speed Oxford to Marylebone line starts

Posted on February 27, 2014 by suehall

train_track_206396In what is to be the first new rail link between two major cities for 100 years, work has begun to build a high-speed rail line that will eventually link Oxford to London Marylebone at a journey time of just 66 minutes.

In order to complete the work, the train service between Bicester and Oxford has been suspended and replaced with buses. Bicester Town station is being rebuilt and a new station called Oxford Parkway will be constructed to serve the north and east of the city.

The line between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone will open in summer 2015. The full line between Oxford and London Marylebone is expected to open in spring 2016 once upgrades to Oxford Railway Station have been completed.

 

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office said: “There will be some short term pain as commuters between Bicester and Oxford take to replacement buses for their journeys to and from work. However, longer term the benefits of improved infrastructure and a high speed rail link of just over an hour to London will make Oxford and perhaps just as importantly, the villages close to the North Cotswolds, even more desirable than ever. Improved transport is one of the main drivers for increased house prices. I see no reason why Oxford should not benefit enormously from this.”

If you are relocating to Oxfordshire or looking to purchase an investment property in the region, contact buying agent Stephen Wolfenden for professional, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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£67 Million Boost for Oxford

Posted on February 11, 2014 by suehall

star_projector_planetarium_projector_219010Oxford, the “city of dreaming spires” is not only famous for its harmonious architecture, culture and glorious surroundings. It is also renowned for its diverse economy which includes industries such as motor manufacturing, education, research, publishing and a large number of information technology and science-based businesses. 

Now, Chancellor George Osborne has announced that a £67 million investment deal will provide the push to help bring cutting-edge technology products to the market and strengthen Oxfordshire’s reputation as an international hub of innovation.  

The cash is part of a “city deal” to boost Oxford’s economy – £30 million will be provided from central government and the rest is to be provided by local councils and universities.  It will go to four “incubator centres” that will help small firms market and sell their products to the rest of the world.  

The cash will help fund: 

  • An “innovation accelerator” to support researchers in preparing robotics, car and jet engine parts and super-fast computers for market
  • The “Oxford Bioescalator” in Headington which promotes technology and expertise sharing between small bioscience and medical companies
  • A centre for excellence in engineering technology at Culham, which develops “remote handling” machinery used in the construction industry
  • High-tech science machinery at the Harwell research centre which already hosts the “Diamond Light Source” particle accelerator 

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford said, “Oxfordshire is already a powerhouse of innovation and wealth creation – it was recently ranked amongst the world’s top five ‘hotspots’ for innovation – and it is crucial that we build on the region’s unique strengths. Creating a regional environment in which entrepreneurial activity can thrive is good for Oxfordshire and good for Oxford University in its mission to continue to attract the best students and researchers from around the world.” 

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office said: “This is great news for Oxford, and millions of pounds will also be spent on improved roads and public transport links to help us make the most of our world class universities and spirit of innovation. Thousands of jobs are likely to be created over the coming years, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to come and live in such a beautiful and architecturally striking part of the UK?” 

If you are interested in relocating to Oxfordshire or would like advice about buying investment property in this region, please call Stephen Wolfenden for expert, independent advice.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: Oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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Bicester’s ‘Eco-Town’

Posted on January 31, 2014 by suehall

eco_windowAn “eco-town” being built in Bicester is one of only four such developments earmarked for England.  

Construction is set to begin in March, and over the next 20 years will grow to include some 5,000 homes.  

The first phase, being built on land to the north-west of Bicester, incudes just 393 energy-efficient homes along with a new community centre and primary school.  

Energy will be supplied to the “eco-town” by a gas-powered CHP (combined heat and power) energy centre.  Hot water will be piped into homes while simultaneously generating electricity for the National Grid. 

A spokesperson for the developer said: “The first 400 homes will actually generate enough electricity to power 550 homes, making the development a net provider of electricity back into the grid.” 

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company said: “Bicester is a popular and thriving market town famous for its shopping outlet and sought-after for its family atmosphere and travel links. Recorded in the Domesday Book survey of 1086, Bicester has a long history and wide selection of housing stock ranging from the modern, eco-friendly new-builds through to houses with medieval origins. One of its main attractions is the fantastic road and rail links. Just 5 minutes from Oxford, it is also linked to the M40 motorway providing easy access to London, Birmingham and Banbury. The train journey into London Marylebone takes just 52 minutes.”

If you are interested in moving to Oxfordshire, please call Stephen Wolfenden to discuss how he can help.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: Oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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It’s Time to Escape to Oxfordshire

Posted on by suehall

oxford_dreaming_spires_209105

If working life in London still floats your boat, but you despair of ever buying a bigger home close to a good school, this could be the year to consider moving to Oxfordshire.  

Stephen Wolfenden, buying agent and Director of The County Homesearch Company’s Oxfordshire office says: “Property prices in London have risen dramatically in recent years. Cashing in now to move to an area that has yet to recover at the same rate could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Not to mention being able to afford the house of your dreams with off-road parking, a garden that justifies buying a ride-on mower and as much of the outdoor lifestyle as you could possibly wish for!”

Last year, the average sales price for an apartment in London was £401,392. The average price of a terraced house was £537,089.  Now consider just how much further your money could go in Oxfordshire where a terraced house sold for an average of £265,789, a semi-detached house averaged £295,754 and detached properties achieved an average of £480,417. In a nutshell, most Londoners selling a small leasehold flat could leap straight up to a large detached house in one fell swoop.

Of course, there is a commute and rail fares to factor in. But have you been put off by horror stories without really doing your homework? This is how it breaks down:

Oxford to Paddington takes 1 hour.  Cost per journey: £9.73
Bicester to Marylebone takes 52minutes. Cost per journey: £9.59
Banbury to Marylebone takes 1 hour. Cost per journey: £11.00

According to Stephen: “It really is possible to have the best of both worlds – a career in the capital and a wonderful home in the glorious British countryside. And if you have concerns about friends, schools and choosing the right location, that is precisely what a buying agent is at your side to help with. Guiding you to the right street in the right area almost inevitably leads to successful friendships and a natural fit with the local community.”

Stephen went on to say: “What surprises many Londoners when they do take the plunge and move out here, is just how many activities, sports clubs, societies, social events and amenities are on offer. There is rarely a shortage of things to get involved in. In addition, the beautiful countryside, picturesque villages, festivals, culture, shopping and high quality schools make it a fantastic choice for anyone thinking about a move.”

If 2014 is the year that you decide to sell up in London to take advantage of one of the incredible mortgage rates on offer, please call Stephen Wolfenden to discuss how he can help to make your move a success.  Tel: 01386 438414. Email: Oxfordshire@county-homesearch.com

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