Hot Spot: Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire

The town's fortunes rose when a crucial link to the M60 was finished - and there's room for more growth yet, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

The largest town in the Greater Manchester district of Tameside, Ashton-under-Lyne, almost hit the jackpot when the Manchester tram got a green light for an extension to Ashton and Oldham. But the project was aborted, and Ashton's gentrification was stopped in its tracks.

The largest town in the Greater Manchester district of Tameside, Ashton-under-Lyne, almost hit the jackpot when the Manchester tram got a green light for an extension to Ashton and Oldham. But the project was aborted, and Ashton's gentrification was stopped in its tracks.

A Grade II listed 42-bedroom mansion, near Ashton, is for sale at £1m, but large family homes in good areas in Tameside rarely top £250,000. Many of Manchester's southerly suburbs are posh and pricey but the dormitory towns to the east are depressed..

Ashton's historic market was recently destroyed by fire, and it will be some time before Hyde, a near neighbour to the south, sheds its association with Dr Harold Shipman, the local GP who mixed murder with medicine. Nevertheless, property in the area is both affordable and profitable. A first-time buyer who works in Ashton and bought a terrace in Hyde for £86,000 a year ago now believes it is worth more than £100,000.

A few years ago, the missing link of the M60, near Ashton, was filled in, completing the ring road.

"Ashton is now buzzing," says Susan Duty of Key Moves. "It has a theatre, a vibrant market, a college and new out-of-town shopping. Ashton's property values rose when the M60 gap was filled, and if the tram is extended to Ashton, commuting to Manchester will be a snap."

Wild price variability - comparable three-bed terraces sell for £60,000 to £150,000 in Ashton - mean that some areas are considerably more desirable than others.

With its many new clubs and burgeoning night life, Stalybridge is getting a reputation as a Lancashire Las Vegas. Mossley, Tameside's most easterly town, "abuts the Pennines and is more rural. It has lots of facilities, is good for commuting, has good schools and is very friendly," says Duty.

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Ashton-under-Lyne is one mile from Junction 23 of the M60 and Tameside Council is campaigning to reinstate Metrolink's Phase 3, which will extend the tram through Droylsden to Ashton. "I'm sure the tram will be extended," Susan Duty believes. "There is great will in the area for it to be completed." A big three-town rally is scheduled for tomorrow.

Crossing the Lyne

Ashton's river is the Tame. The "under-Lyne" bit, the origins of which are obscure, primarily distinguishes this Ashton from Ashton-in-Makerfield and Ashton-upon-Mersey, which are also in Greater Manchester, and several other Ashtons elsewhere. More important than the river are the town's three canals, which are now used mostly for boating, fishing and other leisure activities. The three canals converge at Portland Basin, which has a museum and other facilities. The Tameside Canals Festival is an annual event.

Architectural Ashton

The Parish Church of St Michaels and All Angels is Grade I listed and mentioned in the Domesday Book. Its stained glass is from the 15th century and the parish registers date from 1594.

Prices

Terraces are available for under £50,000, and large family homes in desirable areas cost from £150,000 to £275,000. In Mossley, a four-bed, two-reception semi dating from 1755 is £250,000 at Key, and a stone-built, five-bed detached house with period features, double garage and outbuildings is £399,000 at Halifax.

First timers

£109,950 buys a three-bed semi, and £120,000 buys a bay-fronted, three-bed, two-reception terrace with period features, at Halifax. In Mossley, a one-bed end terrace with no windows on the front elevation costs £89,950, but £95,000 buys a two-bed two-reception mid-terrace with front and rear gardens, and front windows; Key Moves.

Three-bed homes

Ryder and Dutton are selling several three-bed mid-terraces for between £84,950 and £89,950. Although strikingly similar in appearance (red-brick facades, one upstairs window directly above the sole ground-floor window), some homes have two instead of one reception, a downstairs bathroom, or a loft conversion.

Four-bed homes

Ryder & Dutton are selling three detached houses, each with four bedrooms and integral garages and each identically priced on £249,950. However, each house is distinctly different in design and layout. Two of the properties are in Ashton; one has two receptions and original features. The house in Stalybridge is new and overlooks the village cricket ground. A new house in Ashton with similar specifications is £199,950 at Halifax.

Bay fronts

At Halifax, a three-bed semi with spindle staircase is £109,950, and a three-bed mid-terrace with two receptions, original cornices and mouldings, and walled yard leading to a communal garden is £120,000. A newer and larger three-bed, loft-conversion semi with dining room, playroom (in a converted integral garage) and conservatory is £177,950.

Estate agents

Halifax, 0161 339 8422; Key Moves, 01457 838866; Ryder & Dutton, 0161 330 1192.

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