The up-and-coming commuter hotspots within 60 minutes of Marylebone station

Commuters are enjoying swifter journey times to Marylebone station thanks to a recent upgrade in rail services. Our exclusive research uncovers the best price growth hotspots and affordable options in some of the loveliest countryside the shires have to offer...

Marylebone station is the gateway to some of the loveliest countryside in the shires, from the Cotswolds to the Chilterns. Commuters on this line can choose from picture-perfect villages, affluent dormitory towns and retail heavens, and all come with swifter journey times to and from the capital thanks to a recent upgrade in rail services.
Exclusive research by Savills analysed the property prices and relative merits of the 11 station stops that lie beyond the M25, but within an hour of Marylebone station, to discover the best price growth hotspots and affordable options in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

Affluent Gerrards Cross lies at the entrance to the Chiltern Hills. It is not the prettiest place, but has enjoyed the strongest price growth over the past year — an impressive 15.5 per cent — bringing the average house price to £790,480. When it comes to longer-term price growth since the market high of 2007, Gerrards Cross is also the strongest performer, with prices up 23.7 per cent.
The Buckinghamshire town has little architectural appeal. It is essentially a commuter town with an affluent community living in huge houses.
Gerrards Cross Common provides local green space. There is a wide mix of restaurants and shops, but a large and ugly town-centre Tesco. A small two-screen cinema has been there for decades. The town’s strong point is the 25-minute rail service to London. An annual season ticket costs £2,484, but factor in the extra cost for the station car park.

 Peter Scott, a director of estate agents The Brampton Partnership, said the town’s prices are continually boosted by an exodus of Londoners from a swathe of west London — Hammersmith, Ealing and Chiswick in particular — in search of a good choice of private and state  schools.
Scott says: “There is an outstanding church school for juniors and the 11-plus system means children can go on to the local grammar schools if they pass.”
The reputation of Gerrards Cross as a commuter town is fair — about three in five of Scott’s buyers work in London — but he says property is relatively good value compared to Surrey towns within a half-hour commute of the capital.
Despite being a commuter town, the area has a bit of a daytime buzz. There are clubs covering everything from angling to horticulture, based at the community centre opposite the common.

£1 million: four-bedroom, detached Appletree Cottage in Beaconsfield, at the edge of the Chiltern Hills, offers fast links to London

Another strong performer is an entirely different proposition. Prices of properties close to Bicester North have grown by almost 21 per cent since 2007, on the back of a strong development pipeline. The average house price is less than half that found in Gerrards Cross, at £264,565. However, Bicester North is a 50-minute train journey from the capital and the annual season ticket costs £4,716.

Bicester’s claim to fame is its popular designer shopping outlet. It is also only a 15-minute hop from the centre of Oxford for further retail therapy. Most daytrip shoppers bypass Bicester itself, which is technically a market town but has been overwhelmed by hundreds of new homes being built in estates around the original centre.

Terry Steventon, a sales negotiator at Barton Fleming estate agents, said the town centre now has a Sainsbury’s and a cinema, which has drawn people into the high street but not improved its looks. Culture is hard to find. Most people head for Oxford.

Bicester: Market Place in the town centre. Image: Alamy

What Bicester does have is sound schools — The Cooper School is “highly regarded” by the government schools watchdog — and affordable modern homes. Steventon suggests budgeting from £325,000 for a four-bedroom detached house.
Buyers looking for a dreamy Buckinghamshire village should head for Haddenham & Thame Parkway station — a 38-minute hop to Marylebone, annual season ticket £3,844 — where buyers gravitate towards either Haddenham itself or nearby Long Crendon.

Feeding the ducks: pretty cottages around the village pond in Haddenham. Image: Alamy

This is true Midsomer Murders country, and indeed the show regularly films in both villages. Haddenham is the larger of the two and its popularity with London buyers means it has a thriving brasserie, Twist at the Green Dragon, and a café, Little Italy Espresso Bar, plus a rather dull parade of post-war shops.
There is an eponymous junior school, rated “good” by Ofsted, and seniors are within the catchment area of Aylesbury’s grammar schools.

Haddenham’s entry price is about £250,000 for a two-bedroom modern flat on the outskirts, says Simon Lazaruk, director of Hamnett Hayward estate agents. A three-bedroom Victorian semi would be about £500,000, while the village’s pretty four-bedroom homes sell for up to £800,000.

£650,000: a Grade II-listed, four-bedroom cottage in Cuddington, Aylesbury


Close to Haddenham is the smaller village of Long Crendon, with a pretty and immaculate town centre.

Its square is lined with cafés and shops and it has the AA-recommended The Angel Restaurant, which is a draw from around the area. Property styles are similar to those in Haddenham, but the village school is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, which is perhaps why prices here are a little higher — about five per cent, says Simon Lazaruk.
The best-value area in today’s study, with average prices of £197,626 — up almost eight per cent in the last year — is Banbury.
An upgrade of the Chiltern Line in 2011 has slashed journey times to the capital by 20 per cent to exactly an hour, and an annual season ticket is £5,412. Not surprisingly, this has heightened interest in the market town.
“People have started to realise that North Oxfordshire is very commutable,” says Tom Crump of Anker & Partners estate agents. “Plus you get much better value here than in other locations closer to London.”

Best value: the market town of Banbury is an hour from London by train after a Chiltern Line upgrade. Image: Alamy

Banbury’s location offers a sweep of lovely countryside in the Cherwell Valley. With the Oxford Canal running through the town it is hard to beat, but the centre lacks character.
Some ugly post-war buildings mar its traditional market town looks and, in a beauty contest with other local towns, it would not win the tiara.
Like its architecture, the quality of Banbury’s schools is mixed, with some lagging badly behind national standards. However, Ofsted does rate some schools “good”, including Dashwood Banbury Academy and St John’s Roman Catholic Primary School.
Crump points out that as well as the 60-minute journey to London, Banbury is an easy trip to either Oxford or Stratford-upon-Avon and right on the doorstep of the Cotswolds. Its housing stock is excellent and its prices will make any Londoner wince with envy.
A two-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian cottage in the town centre would be priced from about £175,000.
A four-bedroom modern house on the outskirts would cost about £350,000, while a detached four-bedroom period house would cost between £450,000 and £500,000 — about the same as a parking space in prime central London.

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