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Windsor is a hotspot

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Fri 16 Mar 2018

Windsor is a hotspot

Which might be overstating matters when the venue for your nuptials is the Queen’s private chapel at Windsor Castle, but we get the point.

What’s certain is that the royal wedding on May 19 will put Windsor centre stage.

But this pretty town just 20 miles west of central London already attracts interest. It is now one of the few hotspots in Britain’s sluggish housing market.

Research by estate agency Countrywide says house prices in Windsor have risen 53 per cent over the past ten years — more than the rest of the South-East, which has seen increases of 37 per cent.

The Land Registry says a typical home in Windsor is now a hefty £574,860 compared to £370,840 in South-East England.

Those who know Windsor will not be surprised. It’s already one of the country’s best-preserved towns, with many streets designated as conservation areas.

The centre has high-end arcades and stores plus a flourishing bar and restaurant scene. Windsor is also well-located for commuters, and good for buy-to-let investors.

Many homes are listed and in crescents and terraces, so offer limited scope for extension.

Relatively few large houses with family gardens in the best addresses (such as Clarence Crescent) go on sale, and fetch premium prices when they do.

There are executive homes in clusters on the edge of the town, but new properties are few because of the constraints of the area. These include the River Thames running through the centre, Windsor Great Park plus stretches of Green Belt.

‘Windsor appeals to a range of buyers, but the majority are commuters migrating out of London,’ says Nick Wooldridge, of Stacks Property Search.

‘The market is particularly strong for homes between £700,000 and £900,000,’ according to Emma Smith, of Strutt & Parker, although she suggests that stamp duty is making the sale of homes over £1million more difficult.

Unsurprisingly many of those moving in are young families, wanting to be on hand for the highly-regarded local private and state schools.

Top schools include St George’s (within the Castle gates), Brigidine and Upton House in Windsor, St Mary’s and Papplewick in nearby Ascot and, of course, Eton College, alma mater of Prince Harry himself.

Heathrow is 20 minutes away by car while two Windsor rail stations have services taking commuters to London’s Paddington and Waterloo terminuses within 35 minutes.

From late next year, the nearby Maidenhead station will have the new Crossrail link, making the City even more accessible. Homes closest to the stations attract the highest premiums.

‘£1.5 million will buy a period, terrace townhouse with four bedrooms within walking distance to the station,’ says Charles Elsmore-Wickens from Savills.

Many buyers look just outside Windsor to the villages, including Bray — home to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant — as well as Englefield Green.

‘The village of Datchet is a popular choice. It has its own train station going directly into Waterloo and with £1.5m you can buy a detached five-bedroom house with a big garden and parking,’ says Elsmore-Wickens.

Tourists visit Windsor year-round. In 2016 there were 7.8m day trips to the town, creating traffic jams close to Legoland and the racecourse.

Aircraft noise from Heathrow is ever-present. But for Windsor residents, the upsides more than make up for such irritations.


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