Sunday Times names Finchampstead as one of UK’s best places to live

A VILLAGE in the borough is one of just 15 places in the south east to be named as the best places to live in Britain by The Sunday Times.

Finchampstead is the only entry from Berkshire in The Sunday Times Best Places To Live guide, which is published on Sunday, March 12.

Judges assessed the whole country to decide on the definitive top locations to make a home in.

Criteria included jobs, exam results and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops.

Wadhurst in East Sussex as the best place to live in the South East, but the remaining 14 south east locations are not ranked.

The Sunday Times said that the methodology used to compile the list relied on hard data and robust statistics on crime and education, but also on expert knowledge from its judging panel. The judges combined the numbers with their own experience of the villages, towns and cities, such as local pubs, ease of transport and the range of attractive property to ensure the chosen locations truly are places where readers and their families can thrive.

The Sunday Times Best Places to Live: South East

  • Crowborough, East Sussex
  • Farnham, Surrey
  • Finchampstead, Berkshire
  • Godalming, Surrey
  • Hambledon, Hampshire
  • Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  • Hove, Brighton and Hove
  • Lymington, Hampshire
  • Margate, Kent
  • Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  • St Albans, Hertfordshire
  • Stockbridge, Hampshire
  • Tadley, Hampshire
  • Wadhurst, East Sussex
  • Wallingford, Oxfordshire

Praise from community

And Finchampstead leaders have been quick to explain the reasons for the Wokingham borough village’s high ranking in the list.

Roland Cundy, Chair of Finchampstead Parish Council, said: “We are so proud to hear this news about our beautiful parish. As the Parish Council we are at the heart of the community and it is great to know that we have played a part in Finchampstead receiving this accolade.

“Finchampstead has great character and history.

“It is fairly rural, with lots of open space including National Trust land and a Country Park, and 26 miles of footpaths. It also has good schools and shops as well as great places to eat.

“It really is a friendly and welcoming place to live and work, with great community spirit. Finchampstead has a huge number of local groups and organisations.

“The FBC Centre – where the Parish Council is based – is a real hub for the community, and it and other community halls are always busy with many varied activities for all ages.

“We are sure our residents will be as thrilled as we are to hear this exciting news.”

Guy Shore, head of Waverley Prep School and Nursery, an independent school for under 11s in Finchampstead, said that the village’s rural setting meant that it can offer unique educational experiences for its pupils.

He said: “Situated in the heart of Finchampstead, we are finding an increased demand for places at our school. This is naturally partly because of our outstanding educational ranking – number one in Berkshire and number 14 nationally – but also because our location in Finchampstead allows us to teach curriculum subjects both in the classroom and outdoors. We use the local woodland and green spaces for ‘Forest School’ to offer children unusual and fun ways of learning in a non-classroom setting.

“Finchampstead has a wealth of wildlife, quiet woodland corners, plenty of green spaces and excellent educational opportunities which more and more parents see as the perfect setting for a great start in life for their child.”

And this view was backed by his colleague, Helen Taylor, the school’s marketing manager.

“Education is a very important factor in where parents choose to live. We are finding families and ‘pre-nesters’ are moving out of London to and choosing to live in Finchampstead based purely on educational rationale,” she said. “Parents choose Waverley as it offers children a broad curriculum in a family-friendly school which has excellent educational results. Finchampstead then offers parents a wide choice of superb secondary schools which are either located in Finchampstead and Wokingham itself, or a short bus ride away in Reading.”

Cllr Charles Margetts from Finchampstead North was also pleased

He said: “I was not surprised that Finchampstead is rated so highly in the survey when you consider the natural beauty of the Ridges and Simons Wood for recreation. We have the wide array of local facilities from the football and cricket club for sport. We have high quality local schools such as Nine Mile Ride and the new Bohunt Secondary School.

“We have a variety of good public services such as the Finchampstead Medical Centre.

“We have areas like California Country Park which can be used by all the family. We have several country pubs such as the Queen’s Oak and The Greyhound as well as high quality restaurants such as Xenuk.

“Who would want to live anywhere else?”

Cllr Rob Stanton, responding as Fincampstead North councillor, said that he is “delighted to see Finchampstead in such a positive reflection”.

He added: “It is a very varied area with some rural parts which demonstrate excellent countryside while large parts of the area provide very good housing across a range of needs and prices.

“It is an a very nice area in which to bring up a family with very good primary schools, and the high standard of secondary schools in nearby Wokingham.

“It has a very nice Country Park, an excellent facility in the local Baptist centre which provides number of facilities including a very high level of youth activity.

“It has so far managed to keep its separation in an area where there is much housing development.

“There are local employment opportunities, high speed broadband and a lot of local pride.”

And Finchampstead South councillor Ian Pittock simply said: “No real surprise here, we already knew it is a great place to live.”

Church responds to survey

Richard Peat, publicity officer for the Parish of Finchampstead and California, said: “As the local parish church for Finchampstead we are delighted to hear that our village has been named as one of the top places to live in the South East.

“We know many of our parishioners enjoy living here, and value many of the factors The Sunday Times has listed that make this a great place to live.

“However, alongside this we must also remember that whilst it may not always be visible in a place known for its affluence, Finchampstead South is one of the top five wards in the Wokingham borough for deprivation, and it is important that we strive to make our village a great place for everybody to live.”

About The Sunday Times Best Places To Live In Britain survey

The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in Britain Part 1 is the first in a two-part series. This weekend it reveals the best places to live in the North and North East, Midlands, Northern Ireland, South East and Wales. Part two, published on Sunday 19 March will reveal the best places in the Southwest, East, London, Scotland and the Northwest, as well as the overall best place to live in the UK.

The Sunday Times Best Places to Live Editor Helen Davies said: “This is the fifth year we have compiled the list, and this year’s is even bigger and better – the guide is more personal, more detailed and more comprehensive than ever before.

“The list weighs up everything from considering the likely impact of the local plan, to whether the post office is still open, the range of housing, and the quality of the coffee.

“Numbers on a spreadsheet can only tell us so much, so we carefully balance statistics with our writers’ decades of knowledge and expertise to create the definitive list of the best places to live in the UK.”

Average property prices for sale and to rent have been provided by Countrywide plc, which is the UK’s leading residential estate agency and property services group.

Johnny Morris, Research and Analytics Director at Countrywide plc, said: “Using extensive data from across our businesses, along with official statistics, we have been able to paint a detailed picture, not just of how much it costs to buy or rent in different places across the country, but what it is like to live there too. We’ve been able to do this for all types of people, from someone renting their first flat to a family buying their forever home.”

The Sunday Times is offering complimentary access to two articles by signing up, and can join in the conversation online by sharing their favourite places and why they love them using the Twitter hashtag #stbestplaces


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Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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