Hot Spot: Doncaster, South Yorks

It may have been slow off the mark in the northern property stakes, but this unfancied contender is now ready to give the favourites a run for their money, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

In the publicity stakes, high-budget, high-profile cities such as Leeds took a quick lead while slow-starting Doncaster made steady if unobtrusive progress. Suddenly, big changes are afoot in this part of South Yorkshire, and property prices are already champing at the bit.

In the publicity stakes, high-budget, high-profile cities such as Leeds took a quick lead while slow-starting Doncaster made steady if unobtrusive progress. Suddenly, big changes are afoot in this part of South Yorkshire, and property prices are already champing at the bit.

Home to Doncaster Racecourse and the world's oldest classic race, the St Leger Stakes, the city will soon get more modern transportation. "The announcement of the new airport at Finningley has generated enormous interest," says estate agent Liam Bailey of Knight Frank in Leeds. "Doncaster is also undergoing a large amount of new development and renovation, and new 'city-living' residential stock appears to have found a willing market."

The improved job market has transformed Doncaster, says Terry Oxley of local agent Whitegates: "In addition to the airport, a power plant is being planned and a new university received the go-ahead. Buy to let has already become big as investors anticipate demand for rentals from students and job relocators. Because the jobs are back, people who left Doncaster years ago are returning, and first-timers are also buying because they can work here." Other buyers include southerners who sell and, from the proceeds, have enough to buy one or more investment properties and a new home.

Increased demand has seen prices treble in the past three to four years in the middle market, especially in areas with good schools such as Scoresby and Cutsworth, although rises in the high end have been more modest. "Three to four years ago, three-bed semis that sold for between £40,000 and £50,000 now sell for at least £130,000," says Oxley. His estimates agree with data from the Halifax, showing that average house prices last June were 31 per cent higher than in the previous year. The average house now costs £127,858.

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Doncaster has rail links with London, Peterborough, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The £80m Robin Hood Airport, on the site of a former RAF base, is scheduled to open next March. Flights will serve holiday destinations in Spain, Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Architectural Doncaster

The gothic St George's Church was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, architect of St Pancras Station in London. The 18th-century Cusworth Hall is Grade I-listed and home of the Museum of South Yorkshire Life.

Attractions

The Dome leisure centre has seven swimming pools and an ice rink. Salmon have been spotted in the River Don, and 100-acre Bawtry Paintball Fields has been acclaimed the Best Paintball Site in Britain. The varied restaurant options include Mexican and Arabic cuisine.

Prices

A three-bed semi with front garden is selling for £58,950 at William H Brown. However, family homes in popular areas typically sell for more than £100,000. Halifax is selling a period two-bed, two reception mid-terrace with attic room conversions for £159,000, and a five-bed house with four basements and garage for £299,950. In Balby, central Doncaster, Whitegates is selling period red-brick two- and three-bed semis for between £90,000 and £100,000.

Penthouses

An 18-bed three-storey period residence near the town centre includes a self-contained penthouse and a second penthouse with three bedrooms, lounge and veranda. The property has extensive gardens, two conservatories and five-car garage. £700,000 at William H Brown.

Bungalows

In Balby a two-bed semi with detached garage is c. £119,950 at Whitegates. In Conisbrough a five-bed, four-reception house on a large plot overlooking Conisbrough Castle is c.£265,000 at Halifax.

Suburbs

In Bessacarr, east Doncaster, near the M18 and the racecourse, a modern three-bed semi is £157,950, and a five-bed detached is £399,000 at Halifax. In Sprotborough, west Doncaster, near the A1(M), a two-bed semi is £119,950 at Halifax and a three-bed semi at Whitegates is £131,000. On the high end, a three-bed grade II stable block conversion is £225,000 at Halifax.

Villages

Mattersey and Oldcotes are south of Doncaster and convenient for the A1(M). In Mattersey, a four-bed house with two-bed annexe and double garage is £499,000, and a three-bed, modern detached bungalow with double garage is £215,000. In Oldcotes, a four-bed cottage on Main Street with garage and part-walled rear garden is £238,000. All at Brown & Co.

New

Persimmon Homes is selling flats from £131,250 and houses from £142,750 in three developments in and around Doncaster (01302 539579). Strata Homes is selling two-bed flats (from £128,000) near the town centre (01302 570993).

Estate agents

Brown & Co, 01777 709112; Halifax, 01302 320031; Whitegates, 01302 327291; William H Brown, 01302 327121.

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