Shropshire Star

Shropshire Hills towns make prestigious 'best places to live' guide

The Shropshire Hills have been judged to be one of the top places to live in the Midlands in a prestigious guide.


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The towns of Church Stretton and Bishop's Castle were highlighted for special praise in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.

The Welsh border town of Presteigne also made the list of the most desirable places to live in Wales.

According to the guide, the Shropshire Hills offered a dramatic landscape which was hard to find elsewhere in the country.

"If you want to get lost in nature and nurture your creative side, this enchanting landscape of big hills and bigger skies is the place to be," said the guide.

"There’s a sense of space here that’s hard to find elsewhere in England and towns such as Bishop’s Castle or Church Stretton offer both character and convenience."

The news comes as no great surprise to Canadian-born Daphne Du Cros, who quit the London rat-race to set up a market garden in Bishop's Castle seven years ago.

Daphne Du Cros keeps a market garden in Bishop's Castle

"There is a great sense of community engagement, beautiful landscapes, and so many amazing food producers who are growing, selling and serving good food," says Daphne, who is 38. At the moment, Daphne is working on the Shropshire Good Food Trail which will promote the area's best food and drink producers in July and August this year.

Rosalind Ephraim keeps Burway Books in Church Stretton, which was recently shortlisted for the Midland Independent Bookshop of the Year award.

She says it is a wonderful place to be.

"When I come into work from the Wenlock Road, the views are different every day," she says.

"It's fantastic to come to work here. It's a very good community, we all keep an eye out to help each other."

Rosalind Ephraim keeps Burway Books in Church Stretton

The trendy south Birmingham suburb of Stirchley was judged the best place in the Midlands to make your home, with the villages of Knowle and Dorridge, near Solihull, also making the list.

The latest guide has a record number of new entries, and there is no place for previous winners York and Bristol. The judges said they were looking for up-and-coming locations with a strong sense of community rather than famous names with high house prices.

Commuter access, schools, and the quality of town-centre shopping were all factors, along with the possibility of earning a living and being part of a friendly community.

Guide editor Helen Davies said the judges visited all of the places featured to find what people liked about them.

“We do consider affordability, though high house prices are no barrier to inclusion, as long as they provide value for money," she said.

"Different people may be looking for different things, but what all our best places have in common is that people love living in them and are proud to call them home.

"These are all places where you can feel grounded as well as upwardly mobile: they have a mature sense of community, lively, supportive high streets and an eye to the future, whether that is eco-friendly measures, transport and regeneration, or imaginative inclusion of new housing."

The judges said Stirchley had some of Birmingham's best bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as good schools and easy rail connections to the city centre.

"Community spirit is visible all over Stirchley, from free art clubs in the library to the events at Stirchley Baths, a community centre that hosts cinema nights and a community market," said the guide.

"Loaf, the co-operative bakery and cookery school that was one of the first independents to put Stirchley on the map, does a £1 Stirchley loaf, alongside its famous sourdough, so that everyone can afford good local bread.”

Knowle and Dorridge, near Solihull, were described as 'super suburbs' where one could 'bag a big house along with school and postcode bragging rights'.

"This semi-rural suburban sanctuary is close enough to Solihull’s retail action but far enough from urban sprawl – and 20 minutes by train from Birmingham city centre – to kid yourself you’re in the middle of the countryside."

Elsewhere in the Midlands, Buxton in Derbyshire, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, and Stamford and Sutton on Sea, both Lincolnshire, also made the guide.