Bracknell Forest revealed as the most buoyant house market outside London as property prices soar

Families can’t lose in this booming Berkshire spot with great schools and good-value houses an hour from central London - but now is the time to buy.
Within the magic commuting time of no longer than an hour —  which will get better thanks to the Crossrail effect — with good schools and quality, affordable family homes in lovely countryside, Bracknell Forest, just beyond Surrey, should be on the wish list of Londoners jumping ship.

Indeed, latest Land Registry data confirms it as the most buoyant market in England and Wales, excluding the capital.
There’s probably no time to dawdle though. In the last year this slice of Berkshire saw annual price increases of 14 per cent, almost exactly twice the national average.
A key reason why this under-the-radar location has quietly started to excel is that it borders more expensive locations including Windsor to the north east and Ascot in Surrey to the west, so it is enjoying a ripple effect from priced-out buyers.


The average property in Bracknell Forest currently costs £249,531, which compares favourably to these chichi neighbours. The average Surrey home costs £352,934, while in Windsor and Maidenhead an average property will set you back £385,325.
Bracknell Forest’s major town is Bracknell, and, to be blunt, Bracknell is not a good reason to pack up and move out of London. However, it is in the throes of a major regeneration project which should make it a lot more appealing.

The tired, clone-ish, hoody-ridden high street is being replaced with a shiny new shopping centre, the Northern Retail Quarter, with posh Fenwick and Carluccios. There will also be a 12-screen cinema. Work is due to start on site next year and finish in about 2017.
The attraction of the area is its satellite villages and Gerry Burke, owner of Gerry Burke & Co estate agents, tells searchers to head two and a half miles north west to Binfield. Residents here can commute from Bracknell to Waterloo or head to Twyford, six miles away, for trains to Paddington. Both journeys take less than an hour and an annual season ticket costs £3,392.
From 2017 Twyford will have the huge advantage of being on the Crossrail line, with direct services to the West End and City.

Binfield is a mid-sized village with a good range of period and postwar housing at, by London standards, hugely affordable prices. There are several good pubs, the Victoria Arms being the locals’ choice, and a small parade of shops. Nearby open space includes Pope’s Meadow, a Green Flag Award-winning wildlife haven, and Binfield Church of England Primary School is rated “good” by Ofsted.
A two-bedroom Edwardian cottage in the village would cost £300,000 to £350,000, with four-bedroom, modern detached houses from about £450,000. At the top end of the market £800,000 to £900,000 would buy a detached, five-bedroom house on the edge of the village.
Another village option north of Bracknell is Warfield. There are a handful of period homes at its heart but most of its housing dates from the Eighties and Nineties.
David Ramon, branch manager of Carson & Co, recommends the area for families — and he should know since he lives there himself. On the downside Warfield doesn’t scream with character, and while there are a couple of pubs there are no shops. But there is plenty of open space, including woodland and a village community orchard.
Confusingly, there is no real Bracknell Forest. However, Warfield is conveniently close to Swinley Forest, part of the Windsor Estate, with a magnificent 2,600 acres of woodland that is fantastic for mountain biking and walking.
The main attraction of Warfield for families is its schools. Whitegrove Primary is rated “good” by Ofsted, and seniors move on to Garth Hill School in Bracknell, also “good”.
If you live on the eastern side of the village you might also fall into the catchment area of Charters School in Sunningdale, the real prize with an “outstanding” rating from the government schools watchdog.

Bracknell Forest’s other town is Sandhurst, not a beauty either, but famous for the Royal Military Academy, and a huge branch of Marks & Spencer.
Ross Hobbs, branch manager of Prospect estate agents, said the top pick for commuters would be a home in Little Sandhurst, close to the railway station. Trains to Paddington take from 58 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £3,548.
Little Sandhurst has its own high street, several pubs and a village ambience. “It has a real community spirit, they are always holding different local events,” says Hobbs.
New Scotland Hill Primary School in the village is rated “good” by Ofsted, as is Sandhurst School, for seniors. There is masses of open space surrounding the village including the Tri-Lakes Country Park which has fishing and an adventure playground. Dog walkers and ramblers will love Simons Wood, just to the north.
Buyers could pick up an “olde worlde” cottage for about £325,000 while a four- to five-bedroom family house with a couple of acres would cost about £1.5 million. Prospect’s Ross Hobbs particularly recommends Ambarrow Lane for its large, mostly Thirties houses nestled in woodland and with a real country feel.

The other choice in this area is Crowthorne with its really exceptional secondary school, Edgbarrow. It has a top rating from Ofsted, as does Crowthorne Church of England Primary School.
Crowthorne is also home to Wellington College — alumni include the writers George Orwell and Sebastian Faulks — and, rather more chillingly, it is close to Broadmoor secure psychiatric hospital.
There is plenty going on in Crowthorne, with a parade of shops and a summer carnival, a cricket club and golf society, and even an amateur symphony orchestra. Trains to Paddington take from 54 minutes and, like Sandhurst, an annual season ticket costs £3,548.
First-time buyers could pick up a two-bedroom flat in the village for about £220,000, while a mid-century four-bedroom house would cost about £450,000. For those with a bigger budget, £1 million would buy a four to five-bedroom Thirties house with a big garden.

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