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Online House Hunter: Home-buying in market towns

Alan Cleaver
ludlow 300x202 Online House Hunter: Home buying in market towns

A five-bedroom property for sale in Ludlow

ONE in five people live in market towns – those historic small towns where the community spirit is still strong.

It’s not too surprising to find that many people still opt for a market town when deciding where to live.

But Chris Wade, Chief Executive of Action for Market Towns suggests more could be done to make market towns available to all house-hunters. He told me: ”Market towns are popular places to live because of the quality of life they offer but this can be bad news for key workers and first time buyers.  With low local wage levels in many rural areas and incomers pushing-up prices, this can mean a first house is out of reach for many young people”

Towns such as Ludlow in Staffordshire which is hopsting this year’s convention for the pressure group, Action for Market Towns. Its historic buildings including a castle, are set in the beautiful countryside of the Welsh marches and the shopping centre includes a good spread of independent stores. Ludlow was the UK’s first Cittaslow town.

During 2010, house prices in Shropshire showed some strong resilience against the prevailing national doom and gloom. There were, according to Land Registry figures, year-on-year price increases each month – the average house price currently stands at £160,022. Small dips over the last few months suggest the county is not immune from the current ‘get real’ adjustment in house prices.

Ludlow, like many historical towns, may struggle to cope with 21st century traffic but it was by-passed in 1980 (it’s the A49). It sits close to the Welsh border but for those staying on the English side, there is the M5, M54, M42 and M6 in shouting distance. The rail station is close to the town centre and links to Shrewsbury, Hereford, Newport, Cardiff and Manchester.

And it’s good to see that Ludlow still has a thriving market. Indeed it’s just been named Local Authority Market of the Year. That’s no doubt due in no small part to commitment from Ludlow Town Council which has invested in the market operation. If only it were so in all market towns. Chris Wade of Action for Market Towns says the market is still an important symbolic and economic focus in the vast majority of market towns. “In our most recent survey, a third of markets were reported as in decline due to competition from retail development and the recession.”

Market towns may epitomise the English town but they can’t rest on their laurels. One suspects this October’s Action for Market Towns’ conference will have plenty to talk about.

Pictured is a five-bedroom property for sale in Ludlow for £525,000 with Strutt and Parker.

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  • tom baz

    The M54, M5, M42, M6 is within shouting distance of Ludlow, someone must have a really big mouth and a really loud voice.


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