Modern Britain: It's all down to David Beckham

Manchester - At the Parisa cafe bar in Wilmslow, 10 miles south of Manchester, a chauffeur-driven Rolls purrs at the pavement. Five BMWs, two Porsches, two Mercedes and one ill-fitting Mondeo are also parked there. There are more Rolls-Royces per capita in Wilmslow than anywhere else in Britain. The local off-licence famously sells more champagne than any other and they say the local paper puts much of this down to new celebrity residents: David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams lead the way, followed by most of the Manchester United team.

Manchester - At the Parisa cafe bar in Wilmslow, 10 miles south of Manchester, a chauffeur-driven Rolls purrs at the pavement. Five BMWs, two Porsches, two Mercedes and one ill-fitting Mondeo are also parked there. There are more Rolls-Royces per capita in Wilmslow than anywhere else in Britain. The local off-licence famously sells more champagne than any other and they say the local paper puts much of this down to new celebrity residents: David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams lead the way, followed by most of the Manchester United team.

This is Surrey's north-western outpost. The Express Advertiser raised fears that the overheating housing market may collapse. The neighbouring village of Alderley Edge is "now on a par with London", the paper reported. Ten years ago, a four-bedroom turn-of-the-century property there would have cost £250,000. Now that money buys a smart terraced house, while the £250,000 home fetches £400,000.

Manchester's legal and financial services sectors and media businesses employ many of Wilmslow's wealthy. But just 15 minutes away lies the poverty of Moss Side. Here, the housing stock is poor and homes bought for £20,000 in the past decade have slumped to £2,000. For many landlords the rent cannot justify the costs of renovation. Entire terraces of ghostly, boarded-up streets are a consequence.

By contrast, the only development that matters in Alderley Edge is a 12-flat housing project in George Street. Two-bedroom flats went on the market two weeks ago at £129,950 and sold out in 90 minutes. You don't need to travel 150 miles south to see how the other half lives.

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