Hot Spot: Macclesfield, Cheshire

Prices have soared in the former silk weaving town since Man United's millionaires moved nearby
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The Independent Online

Although Macclesfield has its own Division Three team, many of the town's homeowners support Manchester United. And the Premiership team generously returns the favour. "Prices have doubled in the last four years, in part because we are well-supported by the traditionally dearer areas nearby," says estate agent James Segal of Reeds Rains. "Everything was right for Macclesfield to do well. We have good schools such as Kings, Fallibroome and All Hallows, nice countryside and good transport. There is plenty of local employment, and the new bypass helps commuters get to Manchester quickly."

The town's posh neighbours consist of the exclusive Cheshire suburbs where, when Manchester United plays at home, many of its players hang their hats. Before moving to Spain, David Beckham lived in a converted barn in Nether Alderley. When Rio Ferdinand claimed last year that the distractions of moving into a new home were the reason he failed to attend a drug test, the property in question was his £2m mansion in Alderley Edge.

Macclesfield's streets were laid out in the Middle Ages, but the town prospered centuries later as a silk weaving centre. When that industry declined, other employers moved in, including pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. The industrial shift also left many warehouses ripe for conversion.

"At first, the best price rises were in cheaper properties, because all buyers were struggling. Now things have levelled out and all types of properties are selling well," says Segal, whose tea leaves still favour investors. "I think first-time buyers have given up; they have to rent. Other tenants are people working temporarily in Manchester. AstraZeneca and the hospital are big local employers. Doctors and nurses are soaking up the rental properties. Renters also include separating couples and elderly people who sell to take the equity out of their houses and become renters."

Although prices are consistently rising and investors are continuing to snap up rental flats, Segal fears neither the market peaking nor a glut of rental flats: "Letting looks pretty good. If prices or interest rates increase, more people will need to let."

Property values will also be boosted by a council policy to limit new house building, albeit with certain categories enjoying exceptions, such as affordable housing, houses for farm workers, granny flats and replacement houses. The Council notes that "with planning permission approved for over 1,600 unbuilt houses, it will be several years before new housing dries up."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Manchester is 17 miles by car and about 40 minutes by train.

Attractions

Just south of Macclesfield is the half-timbered Tudor manor house, Gawsworth Hall; its open-air theatre has an eight-week summer season. Macclesfield is 11 miles from Buxton in the Peak District. Along the way on this Pennines route is the Cat and Fiddle Inn, the second-highest pub in England at 1,700 feet.

Silk museums

One of Macclesfield's several silk museums is in the Heritage Centre, formerly the Sunday School building (1814), which is also a venue for classical concerts and other special events. Paradise Mill produces silk for sale and contains 26 restored jacquard handlooms. The Silk Museum is located in the Macclesfield School of Art.

Schools

In addition to Kings and Fallibroome, there is Henbury High School & Technology College in Macclesfield, Alderley Edge School for Girls, and Yorton Lodge (co-ed 4-11) in Knutsford.

Prices

Bridgfords are selling a one-bedroom first-floor flat with communal gardens and parking space, £69,950, a period two-bed mid-terrace with rear garden, £99,950, and three- and four-bed family homes ranging from £129,950 to £250,000. Lettings agency Belvoir has properties ranging from £475 per calendar month for a two-bed flat in the converted Hovis Mill to £650 pcm for two-bedroom flats.

New in Macclesfield

About 60 units at Persimmon's Regents Gate are still available, from £179,995 for two-bed mews house with double garage and conservatory to £377,995 for four-bed houses. Three-bed flats from £179,995 (01625 439956).

Bungalow

A two-bed detached bungalow with dining room, dining hall, double garage and large gardens on four sides on popular Ryles Park Road, £365,000 at Bridgfords.

Posh Cheshire

Within 10 miles of Macclesfield are Alderley Edge, Wilmslow, Bollington, Prestbury and Monks Heath. Jackson-Stops is selling a large two-bed flat in a villa in Alderley Edge, c.£495,000, and the massive six-bed North Bank House in Wilmslow, c.£1.8m. In Nether Alderley, the four-bed brick and stone Fern Hill Cottage dating to the 18th century is £900,000; Yarwoods, an older five-bed property is £1.1m.

Cheddleton near Leek

Redrow has converted St Edward's Hospital into four- and five-bed detached family homes and duplex apartments in the former doctors' residence. Flats from £124,950, townhouses from £159,950, four-bed houses from £279,950 (01538 361737).

Grange conversion

In Congleton, eight miles from Macclesfield, Shepherd Homes has converted the Grade II-listed Victorian mansion Biddulph Grange into nine two- and three-bedroom apartments, which range from £450,000 to £850,000, and has also built seven new houses, which range from £375,000 to £450,000. The garden is run by the National Trust. Agents are Knight Frank.

Estate agents

Belvoir, 01625 508150; Bridgfords, 01625 502231; Jackson-Stops & Staff, 01625 540340; Knight Frank (Manchester), 0161 838 7744; Reeds Rains, 01625 428915.

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