Hotspot: Warrington, Lancashire

The city is building a rosy future on its estates of yesterday.
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The Independent Online

In Warrington, £50,000 buys a decent house in a good area, but for the best houses in the choicest locations, £500,000 might not be enough. Banish all images of northern depression where you can buy one flat and get another free. In nearby Lymm, where standard three- and four-bedroom houses cost more than £150,000, larger homes with land start at £200,000.

In Warrington, £50,000 buys a decent house in a good area, but for the best houses in the choicest locations, £500,000 might not be enough. Banish all images of northern depression where you can buy one flat and get another free. In nearby Lymm, where standard three- and four-bedroom houses cost more than £150,000, larger homes with land start at £200,000.

Developers are building executive homes costing £750,000 in Warrington, a Lancashire city of 200,000 designated a new town in the 1960s. A location roughly equidistant and on the main routes between Liver- pool and Manchester is not a recipe for pulchritude, but it works wonders for prosperity.

Stafford Cleaver of Meller Braggins estate agents says Knutsford and Wilmslow used to be Warrington's poor relations when the south side had mansions and estates owned by wealthy families. Today they are exclusive suburbs. These estates of yesterday, with redundant hospitals and other brownfield sites, providing many development opportunities.

Chris Heath selected Warrington for his company's north-west premises. "I opened our office here two years ago because of the area's fantastic motorway network." Mr Heath, of housebuilder Country and Metropolitan, says the company "tried to acquire several sites in Warrington to develop but were unsuccessful". He believes Warrington has the potential for "city-centre living" and is more affordable than Manchester, which is now expensive. "It doesn't have the leisure facilities yet, but once interest builds up, restaurants and bars will move in, which will attract more residents and a self-feeding cycle will develop, as happened in Leeds."

Bryant and Countryside each had two developments. Ian Kelley, managing director of Countryside Residential, says: "We targeted Warrington because it has great communications and an expanding employment base with higher incomes than other parts of the Northwest. We secured quality sites by demonstrating to landowners and planning authorities that we make the best use of the land. For example, we build rooms in the house roofs, which provide flexible space and generate higher values."

Tom Reynolds of Hampsons Residential Lettings., says: "With short-term contracts being the norm these days, many people want to rent rather than buy. We have constant turnover. Warrington is served by several motorways, ideal for distribution companies. There is no better location to cover the North-west and North Wales."

The Low-Down

Transport

The three motorways (M6, M62, M56) are enhanced by three major rail lines - Manchester/Liverpool East/West, West Coast London to Scotland, and South-west to Chester and North Wales.

Prices

Last year, prices for terraced houses stagnated but semis and detached houses increased by more than 5 per cent. Lettings specialists Hampsons have rentals starting from about £295-£350 per calendar month for one-bedroom flats, to £750-£900 pcm for four-bedroom houses.

Properties

Edwards Grounds estate agents are selling a six-bedroom Victorian terraced house with a two-room cellar for £96,000. Meller Braggins is selling two converted farmhouses in the "green belt" area for £220,000 and £375,000.

New and expensive

Formerly a rector's home and then a hospital north-west of Warrington, Countryside's Winwick Park offers detached houses; £147,950-£309,950. Formerly a country estate south-east of Warrington, Parr Woods has 31 large detached homes; £360,000-£455,000 (01925 269464). Wainhomes' The Hamptons has five large period-style homes with studio garages adjacent to Warrington Golf Course; from £499,950-£795,000 (01925 211093).

New and less expensive

Bryant's Winwick Park has four-bedroom homes; £160,000-£245,000 (01925 631681). Bryant's Cherryfields in Lymm has three-bedroom, three-storey townhouses from £240,000 and four-bedrooms from £280,000 (01925 758120). In the Woolston section of Warrington, Roland Bardsley Homes is selling four-bedroom homes with garages, £200,000 (01925 837351). Westbury's four-bedroom houses at The Grange in Great Sankey, Warrington, are from £123,995 (01925 240772).

Leisure

The North-west abounds in golf courses and also, as the Cheshire constabulary website notes, many pubs and nightclubs. Warrington, the site adds, is vibrant, commercially prosperous and rapidly expanding. The Warrington Wolves rugby league club has a great many fans, but alas a weak bank account.

Bowser browser

If you want to train your dog in a family atmosphere or tune up your handling skills, why not join the Warrington dog training club? The city also has a male choir and camera, model railway, golf, samurai judo, angling, cycle and chess clubs.

Banana republic

Warrington is forging trade links with Brazil. A commercial mission will visit the country's Pernambuco State in May.

Estate agents

Edwards Grounds, 01925 652337; Hampsons, 01925 419676; Meller Braggins, 01925 210021.

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