Hot Spot: Petersfield, Hants

Beautiful countryside, proximity to London and a rash of good schools have made Petersfield almost too popular, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

If you're not careful, a great location can be too much of a good thing. "Petersfield is a lovely town in prime commuting land with fantastic road and rail communications, but good communications mean that traffic noise is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid completely," warns Mary Still of Stacks, a search agent. "The town and surrounding area offer an excellent selection of local state and public schools, one of which is Bedales. The South Downs and the steeply wooded hills known as the Hangars are nearby. This is a recipe for high demand and rising prices but look out for road noise."

If you're not careful, a great location can be too much of a good thing. "Petersfield is a lovely town in prime commuting land with fantastic road and rail communications, but good communications mean that traffic noise is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid completely," warns Mary Still of Stacks, a search agent. "The town and surrounding area offer an excellent selection of local state and public schools, one of which is Bedales. The South Downs and the steeply wooded hills known as the Hangars are nearby. This is a recipe for high demand and rising prices but look out for road noise."

Despite sizeable new property developments, the consistently strong demand has barely been dented. "Competition can be fierce for good period family houses in the pretty surrounding villages such as The Hartings and Buriton to the south, East and West Meon in the Meon Valley to the west, and Froxfield to the north. Prices start at £700,000 for a four-bedroom period family house in a village location, and with good examples thin on the ground, competition is pushing prices up. One house recently sold for 10 per cent above its asking price," she notes.

Gavin James of Bradford & Bingley says that, "with London Waterloo only an hour away, Petersfield is at the very end of the commuter belt. Prices have remained strong, largely driven by a shortage of suitable housing. Cancelled sales remain a problem, more often than not because vendors are unable to find suitable property to move to. These cancellations are themselves further testament to the supply shortage. The creation of the South Downs National Park is sure to boost the area's allure even further, keeping the market active."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

The A3 is on the doorstep, and the M25 and M27 are within easy reach. Gatwick and Heathrow Airports take little over an hour, and Portsmouth is only 20 minutes.

Attractions

The River Rother courses through Petersfield, which has a heath with a large (22 acres) pond surrounded by woodland, and an open-air heated swimming pool near the town centre. The National Trust's stately home Uppark in South Harting has a valuable collection of paintings, ceramics and a famous doll's house. PAinT - Petersfield Artists in Town - is an annual art trail featuring work of local artists exhibited in galleries, private houses, shops and offices 24 July to 1 August. The Real Ale and Music Festival is 2 and 3 July.

Schools

The co-educational Bedales consists of Dunannie Pre-prep (3-8), Dunhurst Junior School (8-13) and Bedales (13-18). The school boasts 200 loaves of student-baked bread per week, one flock of geese, 50 Jacob sheep and one Percheron heavy horse. Other area schools are Churcher's College, Ditcham Park, Petersfield School (which is pursuing Arts College status), Herne Junior, Sheet Primary and Petersfield Infants. Places are occasionally available at Buriton, Steep CE and Langrish.

Prices

A studio flats costs £89,000, rising to £1.5 million for a detached five/six-bed house with land. A two-bed modern semi with rear garden on a cul-de-sac near the town centre is £179,950, and an updated, modernised three-bed period cottage is £210,000 at Henry Adams. A two-double-bed brick-and-timber-beamed double-fronted cottage with herringbone brickwork, dining room and study is £205,000 at Keats. Three-bed semis costing between £285,000 and £335,000 are available at Bradford and Bingley.

Villages

In Froxfield, the updated and extended three-bed Victorian Spott Cottage has a gravel driveway and gardens on three sides and is £485,000 at Henry Adams. Red Ridge Barn on more than 6.5 acres is c.£925,000 at Knight Frank. In Privett, six miles from Witney, the 2,546sq ft listed Old Forge barn conversion is c.£600,000 at Jackson-Stops.

Buriton

Dolphin Cottage is a two-double-bed house with detached garage and is £289,950 at Keats. A three-bed, two-reception former gamekeeper's cottage with gardens on three sides and parking for two cars is £339,000 at Bradford & Bingley. A few miles south of Petersfield, Buriton is on the edge of War Down, location of the 1,400-acre Queen Elizabeth Country Park, offering walking, off-road cycling, hang-gliding, paragliding, orienteering, riding and picnic areas.

New

Bryant is building 250 new flats, houses, and three-storey townhouses from £275,000 (01730 710401). Kebbell's Herne Farm will have 19 flats and 16 houses (01494 678671).

Estate agents

Bradford & Bingley, 01730 266141; Henry Adams, 01730 262801; Jackson-Stops, 01962 844299; Keats, 01730 262826; Knight Frank, 01962 850333; Stacks, 01428 751509.

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