Sleepy Suffolk is simply the best place to live

For everything from sunshine to traffic levels, Mid Suffolk is top of the British table for quality of country life

To its detractors, Mid Suffolk is an area of gently undulating sugar beet fields whose best feature is the A14 dual carriageway that thunders through its heart en route to the questionable glories of Ipswich. But while many have spurned the delights of the late Radio 1 DJ John Peel's adoptive home, it seems its 86,000 canny residents have been quietly enjoying the best quality of life that rural Britain has to offer.

A statistical cocktail of good health, higher than average sunshine, a low burglary rate and cheap property means that people living in this hitherto hidden jewel of East Anglia, whose little-known gifts to humanity include the discovery of soda water and the beginnings of Frankenstein, are benefiting from the highest standard of living in Britain's 114 rural local authorities.

While the district stretching from the medieval marshlands of Eye to the arable plains of Stowmarket is not immune from problems that blight countryside communities such as dwindling amenities and public transport links, it has profited from a "ripple effect" of prosperity and economic activity in places such Cambridge and Felixstowe as well as maintaining its traditional structure of picturebook villages.

It is not by chance that Britain's 40th largest council district is the setting for Akenfield, the social history of a Suffolk village written in 1967 by Ronald Blythe, which is considered a modern classic for its chronicling of a long-lost vision of rural England through the lives of the village teacher, doctor, blacksmith, saddler and magistrate.

A survey, conducted on behalf of Halifax, found that their modern successors have continued to reap the rewards of an area where 70 per cent of the population still live in villages or a rural setting with one of the lowest crime rates in the country as well as property prices considerably below those of surrounding areas. Researchers drew on statistics ranging from the census to exam results as well as rainfall data from the Met Office to create an index of rural living standards.

Martin Ellis, economist at the bank, now part of the Lloyds TSB group which is 65 per cent-owned by the tax payer, said: "Residents of Mid Suffolk have the best quality of life of any rural area in Great Britain. They tend to be healthy, with one of the longest life expectancy rates, and live in larger than average houses. Significantly, average house prices in Mid Suffolk trade at an average £9,810 below the regional average. Therefore, an excellent quality of life comes at a relatively reasonable price."

The findings, which also showed that the area enjoys two more hours of sunshine each week than the national average, reflected the high standing of the East of England in the quality of life rankings. All but three of the top 10 rankings were taken by districts in East Anglia.

According to the study, nowhere quite has the strength in depth of Mid Suffolk, whose status as a haven from the frenzy of modern life was recognised by John Peel when he bought his home in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, in the 1970s. He often presented shows from a studio in the grounds of his home, which he referred to as "Peel Acres".

Tim Passmore, the leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said: "I think Mid Suffolk is tremendous. It has attractive market towns, beautiful villages and a laid-back lifestyle that the rest of the country can only dream of."

The area was home to a long list of forgotten heroes, including Joseph Priestly, the 18th-century theologian and amateur chemist from Needham Market who was the first man to isolate oxygen and invent soda water, and William Godwin, a philosopher from Stowmarket who married the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 and whose daughter was the Frankenstein writer Mary Shelley.

There are early signs that others are catching on to the idea that Mid Suffolk is an attractive place to live. The population is predicted to grow to about 99,000 by 2021, representing a net influx of people to the area which Ronald Blythe described as being populated with "old farmsteads, snowcemmed [sic] and trim ... with its carrs [sic] and its mosses where a millennium of villagers have preferred not to live".

All, however, is not sweetness and light in this rural paradise. Improbably, it has been selected as the site of Europe's largest indoor winter sports arena, Snoasis, which was passed by the Government last year for construction in a former cement quarry at a cost of £350m complete with an artificial ski slope in a giant snow dome.

Peter Welham, co-ordinator of the Snoasis Community Alliance, which is campaigning against the scheme in the village of Great Blakenham, said: "It is all very well Mid Suffolk being hailed as an area of rural tranquility but that does not sit well when we have a monster-sized scheme like this."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn