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Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2021: Saffron Walden named in top eight locations in East of England

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Saffron Walden has been named in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2021 list.

The Uttlesford town is one of the top eight locations in the East of England region. Woodbridge in Suffolk claimed the top spot.

The comprehensive guide was published on Sunday (March 28). Judges take into account a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.

The attractive market square in the heart of Saffron Walden (45668032)
The attractive market square in the heart of Saffron Walden (45668032)

They look for improving towns, villages and city centres, for attractive, well-designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit – which the coronavirus pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor, said: "This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings.

"With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.

"Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead, it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected."

Saffron Walden – where the average house price is £450,000 and average rental price is £850 a month – made the list for its award-winning market, historic houses, wealth of clubs and societies and excellent schools; Saffron Walden County High is rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Its cultural community offers plenty. The soon-to-be-extended Fry art gallery features standout Essex artists such as Michael Ayrton, John Aldridge and Grayson Perry. Saffron Screen, the not-for-profit community cinema, has offered online screenings through lockdowns, and state-of-the-art concert venue Saffron Hall has enlisted world-class artists to curate a set of free musical resources for primary schools.

Stroud in Gloucestershire was named as the Best Place to Live in Britain.

Although Woodbridge was named top in the East of England, the rest of the top eight locations were not ranked numerically. In alphabetical order they are:

  • Dedham Vale, Essex/Suffolk
  • Ely, Cambridgeshire
  • Epping, Essex
  • Norwich, Norfolk
  • Saffron Walden, Essex
  • Shotley Peninsula, Suffolk
  • Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

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