The historic market town of Wokingham has been named the best place in England and Wales for families to live.
Out today, the annual report, which is now in its fifth year, helps families by revealing the best places to live in England and Wales by analysing everything from education, safety and childcare costs to local amenities, affordable property and green spaces.
Situated close to Reading and just 33 miles from London, it is the second time the small town of Wokingham has secured the winning spot in the annual Family Hotspots Report after taking the coveted first place in 2012. As the birthplace of celebrity singer Will Young and home to Olympic rowing champion Anna Watkins, Wokingham is no stranger to fame and has also featured in a number of film and TV productions including, Primeval, Superman and The Vicar of Dibley.
Once best known for its Bell Foundry, today the town owes its success to very low crime rates, excellent Key Stage 2 results and higher salaries, which average at £27,362 versus the average of £21,982 in England and Wales. It also boasts above average performing primary and secondary schools, several churches, an art gallery and regular trains to London, making it a haven for commuter families.
Philip Mirfin, Town Mayor, Wokingham Town Council, said:
“I am truly delighted that once again Wokingham has been named as the best place for families to live in the UK. We are very fortunate to enjoy excellent schools at every Key Stage, together with some beautiful open spaces and a safe town that has a genuine community spirit.
“We pride ourselves in the arts and culture we offer and this ranges from our May Cultural month through to family fun days, theatre in the park and large scale annual events such as the Food Festival, May Fayre and Winter Carnival.”
In second place in the Family Hotspots Report is the tiny village of Winscombe in Somerset. Set on the edge of the Mendip hills and close to the famous Cheddar Gorge, the village has enviable Early Years Childcare, with nearly 40% rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, low crime rates and above average salaries. The village is also known for its Michaelmas fair, held every September, which offers locals a chance to showcase their handicraft and produce.
The Oxfordshire market town of Faringdon scooped third place thanks to its excellent provision of pre and preparatory schools with above average Key Stage 2 results. In 2004 the town won the accolade of being the first Fairtrade Town in the South East of England and also hosts an annual arts festival every summer.
It’s the first time Devon has appeared in the top 20 Family Hostpots Report with four of the county’s towns making the list,namely Shebbear, Cullompton, Crediton and Colyton. The small village of Shebbear boasts the highest percentage of Early Years Care that’s ranked as ‘outstanding’, and secured seventh place overall.
Devon also has relatively good access to a number of large towns including Plymouth and Taunton, making it ideal for those needing to commute. Lower than average house prices and crime rates also ensure that the county remains an attractive location for families.
Since the launch of the Family Hotspots Report in 2010, a year-on-year trend has emerged of the same towns appearing in the top 20. This year was the first time that there has been a marked change in the rankings with only seven towns retaining their top 20 status.
These included Wokingham, Faringdon and Lower Earley tucked in between the M4/M40 corridors, Clitheroe and Longridge in Lancashire, Cheadle in Staffordshire and last year’s winner, St Bees in Cumbria, which this year slipped to eighth position.
Unlike previous years, in the 2015 Family Hotspots Report the top 20 places are evenly distributed right across the UK. Last year the North of England dominated the leader board, however this year the South West, which didn’t appear at all in 2014, has crept back into the top 20 with areas in Somerset and Devon scoring highly.
The Best Places for Families to Live in the UK: The Full List
The top 20 places in England and Wales
Data according to the Family Hotspots Report by modern mutual and specialist in family finances, OneFamily. 71 different sets of official data were analysed for each location including Ofsted findings, government crime rates and Land Registry data. The overall scores (out of a maximum of 30) represent each postcode’s overall aggregated score across every criteria.