Wonderful Wokingham: 'the best place to raise children'

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The Independent Online

Nestled in the Loddon valley, the peaceful market town of Wokingham is renowned for its excellent schools and low crime rate.

Now researchers have crowned the historic Berkshire town as the best place in the UK to bring up children.

Wokingham came out on top of this year's study of "family friendly hotspots" covering 2,400 post-code districts in England and Wales. It scored highly for affordable childcare, school results and earning prospects.

The market town, whose roots stretch back to before the Normans, is part of the commuter belt just 33 miles west of central London and has a population of over 30,000 people.

The research looked at 67 separate factors from best choice of schools and green spaces, to low crime rates and affordable property.

Parish priest Father Jim Joyce said: "When you see groups of teenagers in the street they move aside and say sorry, which I'm sure wouldn't happen in some other parts of the country. It's a homogenous community and a really rather pleasant place to be."

The study was drawn up by Family Investments, where Kate Moore, the head of savings and investments, said: "Wokingham's place at the top of our table reflects its combination of excellent school results, relative affordability for young families and low crime levels. We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible in gathering information on the factors parents have told us are most important."

It is not the first time that Wokingham has been hailed as a desirable place to live.

In 2007, the Berkshire town was named as having the best quality of life by Halifax Estate Agents. The survey found its residents were the healthiest people in the country, with a life expectancy of 80 for newborns.

Desirable towns: Family favourites

1 Wokingham, Berkshire

2 Woodley, Berkshire

3 Chulmleigh, Devon

4 Lightwater, Surrey

5 Shebbear, Devon

6 Oakham, Rutland

7 Bromley Cross, Lancashire

8 Bingham, Nottinghamshire

9 Chinnor, Oxfordshire

10 Yarm, Yorkshire