Property in Aylesbury
Vale of Aylesbury, meanwhile, has a fine vein of country mansions. Knight Frank is selling The Abbey, an eight-bedroom Georgian house at Aston Abbott, for £5.25 million, while local agent Christopher Pallet (01296 456039) has Wellick House, a six-bedroom Elizabethan manor house at Wendover, for a little under £2 million.
In Aylesbury the best roads are King Edward Avenue, where large, four-bedroom Thirties houses sell for around £500,000, or the area around St Mary’s Square, where tiny period cottages start from £200,000.
On the southern side of town the Bedgrove area has the popular Bedgrove Infants and Junior Schools, both judged “outstanding” by government education watchdog Ofsted. A Sixties semi-detached family house in Bedgrove starts at about £250,000. The two conservation villages on the outskirts of Aylesbury, Weston Turville and Bierton, are also sought after.
The area attracts
Aylesbury’s residents commute to London, Oxford, or Milton Keynes, or work in the town, where major employers are the county council, HBOS and British American Tobacco. John Hinton, of Christopher Pallet, says Londoners making the move out of the capital explore the stops on the Chiltern Railways service out of Marylebone until they find a family house they can afford and often come to rest near the end of the line at Aylesbury.
Almost 4,500 new homes are being built at two large new developments — Buckingham Gate and Berryfields — to the north and north-west. Taylor Wimpey has two developments at Buckingham Park: Hartwell Meadows (01296 456007) and Oasis (01296 568338), with prices from £125,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £340,000 for a four-bedroom detached house.
The same developer has two sites at Berryfields — New Berry Vale (01926 320367) and Mayberry Place — where prices range from £139,950 for a two-bedroom flat to £355,000 for a five-bedroom detached house. Both developments are close to the new Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, and a new Church of England primary school in Buckingham Park opened its doors to its first pupils in September. Berryfields is also set to get a new primary and a new secondary school.
Other local developments include Aylesbury Quarter, close to the centre of town on the Bicester Road, where Leybourne Homes is building 350 new homes, with prices from £225,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house, to £249,000 for a four-bedroom townhouse.
Tutors Gate on the south side of town, close to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, is a Persimmon development of three- and four-bedroom houses. Prices from £224,950 for a three-bedroom semi to £364,950 for a four-bedroom detached house.
While most of Aylesbury’s new homes are of traditional design, the Serpentine on the Oxford Road is strikingly different. The purple-clad modern development snakes across the site, where prices range from £109,950 for a one-bedroom flat to £194,950 for a three-bedroom house.
Up and coming
HS2, the proposed high-speed London to Birmingham railway, is opposed by the local MP, David Lidington, and by the local and county councils. It will run through the Vale of Aylesbury to the west of the town and, with years of disruption likely, homes close to its route are becoming blighted, which provides an opportunity for bargain hunters.
Trains from Aylesbury take about an hour to Marylebone (annual season ticket £3,642). Some commuters, especially on the eastern edge of town, drive to Tring nine miles away for a 40-minute journey to Euston (annual season ticket £3,744).
The Vale of Aylesbury district council (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2013/2014 year is £1,525.75.
Shops and restaurants
Aylesbury’s attractive market square is overlooked by the Old County Hall and The Corn Exchange building.
There are two shopping centres: Friars Square which has a House of Fraser department store and the Hale Leys which is due for facelift. A new Waitrose is opening in the autumn but overall the town centre offers mainly chain stores and there is a lack of innovative independent retailers.
The King’s Head pub is a fine Tudor building off Market Square which unusually is owned by the National Trust. Hartwell House on the Oxford Road, also owned by the National Trust, is a hotel with a fine dining restaurant which uses fruit and vegetables from its own garden.
Leisure and the arts
Aylesbury has two theatres: the newly built Waterside by the canal basin and the Limelight in the Queens Park Art Centre with a mixed offering of local bands, open mic nights, comedy and theatre. The Odeon cinema on Exchange Street is the local multiplex.
The local museum is in Church Street in the old grammar school building; this is popular with children and adults alike as it also houses the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery.
The council-owned Aqua Vale Swimming and Fitness Centre has two swimming pools. Aylesbury Park and Weston Turville are the two nearest golf clubs.
Aylesbury has some nice parks with good-quality play equipment. There are walks along the Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union Canal and in the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Four things you may not know about Aylesbury
The comedy actor Ronnie Barker began his acting life in Aylesbury and in 2010 a statue of him in his role as Fletcher in Porridge was unveiled and now stands outside the new Waterside theatre(left); the ceremony was attended by his old sparring partners Sir David Jason and Ronnie Corbett.
What does the House of Commons have in common with Aylesbury’s market square?
They both have statues of the great parliamentarian John Hampden who fought in the civil war and died in a skirmish at Chalgrove near Oxford in June 1643.
The Great Train Robbers, including Bruce Reynolds, were tried at Aylesbury Assizes in 1964; the existing court wasn’t large enough so the council chamber in Walton Street was commandeered and specially adapted.
The Kings Arms off Market Square was once owned by the Rothschild family. Now it belongs to the National Trust and is operated by the Chiltern Brewery. King Henry VI and his new wife Margaret of Anjou are thought to have stayed there and stained glass showing their coats of arms were installed later and can still be seen.
The following state primary schools are judged “outstanding”: St Louis RC in Harris Court, St Mary’s CofE in Keen Close, Turnfurlong Infants in Turnfurlong Lane, St Joseph’s RC Infants in Hazell Avenue and Bedgrove Infants and Juniors in Ingram Avenue.
Aylesbury is dominated by its three state grammar schools: Aylesbury Grammar (boys, ages 11 to 18) in Walton Road and Aylesbury High (girls, ages 11 to 18) also in Walton Road, are both judged “outstanding” by Ofsted; and Sir Henry Floyd (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Oxford Road, is judged “good”.
Griffin House (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Little Kimble is the local private prep school.