Hot Spot: Wilmslow and Knutsford, Cheshire

Canute himself couldn't turn back the tide of wealth that's flooding into these Cheshire towns.
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The Independent Online

Thanks to the silent K, even some residents don't realise Knutsford has historical links with King Canute. Referred to as Cunetsford in The Domesday Book, it is thought the town may have derived its name from the ambitious king, who ruled England from 1016.

Thanks to the silent K, even some residents don't realise Knutsford has historical links with King Canute. Referred to as Cunetsford in The Domesday Book, it is thought the town may have derived its name from the ambitious king, who ruled England from 1016.

But this is not the primary claim to fame of this part of Cheshire. "This area is noted for high net-worth individuals," says Crispin Harris of estate agents Jackson-Stops. "We have good quality houses, boutiques and good restaurants, leisure facilities and health spas. The area is good for commuting, is near Manchester Airport and it has excellent rail links." Famous footballers and chief executives favour these Manchester suburbs, but "the population is a good cross-section and you could buy a flat here for as little as £30,000", says Mr Harris.

His buyers are mostly local professionals or bankers, solicitors and executives relocating to the area. "Large Georgian proportions are the ideal. Old rectories, small manor houses and high-quality farmhouses are highly desirable."

Some fifteen miles south-west of Manchester, "Wilmslow is a bit more urban than Knutsford, which is a little older and more of a county town with a more rural feel".

Knutsford, seven miles from Wilmslow, compensates for its remoteness by being on the doorstep of the M6. "Our buyers are locals moving up the ladder or moving from a more expensive village," says Andrew Rogers of Gascoigne Halman. "We have well-regarded schools, and just outside Knutsford you are in open countryside. The rental market here is very, good. This is quite a transient area, with people moving in because of their jobs. About half of the units in Heathlands, a new development of flats and townhouses, were bought by investors."

Mr Rogers says prices should remain steady."The market is starting to harden, but period properties still sell very quickly. We've just come out of a very buoyant period in which prices rose on average about 30-35 per cent over the two-year period."

Mr Harris says: "We've seen a levelling off which I think is a plateauing, not a downturn. Before the slowdown, ordinary houses appreciated by about 15 per cent annually and the larger, older, more desirable properties by 30 per cent."

The Low Down

Transport

The southwest Manchester suburbs have easy access to the M6 and M65 and are convenient for Manchester airport, Warrington, Liverpool and Birmingham.

Prices

At the low end in Knutsford, two and three-bed houses sell for £70,000 to £80,000. Unusual properties in the area include erstwhile chapels and barn and stable conversions. A duplex flat in a period home in Knutsford is available from Gascoigne Halman at £74,950. Modest three-bed terraces are £100,000 to £125,000, but larger or better located family homes sell for £200,000 to £500,000.

New

Hunters Lodge is a new 11-unit development of mostly two-bed flats in Wilmslow by Macbryde Homes; from £195,000. In Knutsford, Antler Homes is building Heathlands, two and three-bed flats and mews cottages from £139,995.

Sons and daughters

Elizabeth Gaskell's (1810-65) novel Cranford is set in Knutsford, where she lived for 22 years and is buried. RIPing here is computer pioneer Alan Turing. Pete, aka Lindow Man, the 2,300-year-old skeleton, was found near Wilmslow.

Parks

National Trust properties include Tatton Hall, near Knutsford, in 1,000-acre Tatton Park, which had a supporting role in Brideshead Revisited. Lyme Park and mansion, near Stockport, with nearly 1400 acres, starred as Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice.

Estate agents

Gascoigne Halman, Knutsford, 01565 750900; Jackson-Stops & Staff, Wilmslow, 01625 540340; Guthrie Bond, 01565 755390.

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