Hot Spot: Spalding, Lincs

Fast train links and pretty surrounds make this riverside town good value for commuters escaping the Home Counties, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

In Spalding you could easily imagine you are in the Netherlands instead of the fens. The town is surrounded by vast fields of tulips and daffodils, windmills dot the landscape, and the district council answers to the name South Holland. Wooden clogs, anyone?

In Spalding you could easily imagine you are in the Netherlands instead of the fens. The town is surrounded by vast fields of tulips and daffodils, windmills dot the landscape, and the district council answers to the name South Holland. Wooden clogs, anyone?

Take away the Dutch trappings and what do you have? An attractive riverside town on the River Welland, Spalding also has good shops, schools and entertainment and leisure facilities, with handsome British architecture. Georgian terraces line the riverbank, and the Crescent has a felicitous mix of Victorian and contemporary as well as Georgian properties.

"Those riverside properties are scarce and are snapped up as soon as they come onto the market, and other properties are selling well too," says Mike Austin of Sedge estate agents. "Our buyers are mostly locals trading up or down, and investors who want both rental income and long-term gains. With £250,000 you can buy two properties here with net rents of £1,000. Based on growth figures in recent years, I am confident the market will remain healthy."

Spalding's market reflects conditions in the Home Counties - the falls as well as the rises. "We are getting fewer purchasers from Kent and Essex, probably because their properties are sticking," Austin explains. "A few years ago, many Home County homeowners realised that they could sell their house, move here, and commute into London in the same time. It is only 45 minutes from Peterborough to King's Cross, and we have a direct line to Peterborough. They would get a better quality of life - an equal or larger house, reduce their mortgage, and could also buy a second home in Spain with the proceeds."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Spalding is about 20 minutes by train from Peterborough, which is on the East Coast mainline.

Schools

Spalding Grammar is a popular traditional boys' grammar with co-ed sixth form; also in demand is Spalding High School, an 11-18 girls' grammar, also with a mixed sixth form, which has applied for specialist sports college status. Other schools include the co-ed independent 3-11 Ayscoughfee Hall School, Gleed Girls' Technology College, Gleed Boys' School, and George Farmer Technology College in Holbeach. "All of the local villages have excellent schools," says Mike Austin.

Prices

The average home in Spalding has forded the £150,000 barrier, according to the Halifax. But you can still buy a three-bed semi with a long narrow garden for £117,500; a three-bed two-reception house with large garden for £139,950; or a new two-bed detached bungalow with garage for £146,500; all via Longstaff. A modern three-bed semi in Holbeach with conservatory, enclosed rear garden and single garage is for sale at £130,000 through Sedge.

Town centre vs outskirts

A four-bed, three-storey, Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse with internal shutters, archways and coved ceilings is £315,000 at Longstaff. Sedge has a six-bed Georgian house on the outskirts of Sutton Bridge at £280,000.

Pond life

Seckford Lodge is a four-bed house with office, outbuildings and double garage in Pinchbeck, two miles north of Spalding. It has a lake with small island in the middle, all on about 2.6 acres; £425,000 via Longstaff.

Pool life

Ash Tree House is a four-bed period house with conservatory, outbuildings, pool and tennis court and eight acres; £545,000 at Longstaff.

Farm business

Bingham Lodge Farm is a residential Grade I-listed silt farm in Holbeach St Marks. The Victorian farmhouse is in a parkland setting, with foreman's cottage (with a protected tenancy) and modern farm buildings for about £3.7m. At about £3m is Roads & Marsh Farm in Frampton, near Boston, with a Grade II-listed Georgian farmhouse and 573 acres of arable land. Both are available as a whole or in four lots via Brown & Co.

Tourist business

A three-storey Victorian guesthouse overlooking the River Welland has seven guest bedrooms, one staff bedroom and an enclosed rear garden; £250,000 at Sedge.

New

Spalding developer DGM is building Abbots Crescent, which includes 16 houses from £168,500, and a four-bed barn conversion at £500,000. The same firm is behind Roman Bank in Long Sutton, 14 miles from Spalding. It has five large detached houses; three remain, from £325,000 to £380,000 (01775 766816). Agents Knight Frank (01775 769944) report several other new builds, including a development by Castle with flats starting at about £115,000.

Estate agents

Brown & Co, 01775 722321; Longstaff, 01775 766766; Sedge, 01775 713392.

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