image captionSurrounded by Cotswolds countryside, Stroud’s unique spirit makes it the ideal place to live
Stroud has been named as the best place to live in the UK in a Sunday Times guide.
The Gloucestershire town was praised for the quality of its schools, green spaces and its “independent spirit”.
The west of England fared well in the list, with Frome in Somerset named as the regional winner.
Bristol’s harbourside area, Bradford-on-Avon and the Wiltshire village of Tisbury also made it onto the 78 strong list of “aspirational addresses”.
What were the judges looking for?
The annual guide was compiled by a panel of experts put together by the Sunday Times.
Panellists considered local amenities, schools and culture in assessing cities, towns and villages across the UK.
image captionStroud was praised for its glorious green space
They also looked at community spirit, air quality and access to services like high speed broadband.
In the light of the pandemic, the judges focussed on places that were “big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.”
Why did Stroud win?
The judges said they chose Stroud as their national winner because “it has excellent schools, convenient transport links and easy access to lots of glorious green space”.
“Best of all it has a unique independent spirit that comes to the fore in its impressive local food scene and at the brilliant weekly farmers’ market that brings the town and surrounding countryside together,” the judges added
image captionStroud’s famers’ market connects communities across town and country
The farmers’ market was praised as being “one of the best in the country” and the environmental credentials of local football side Forest Green Rovers were also noted.
The team is owned by green energy firm boss Dale Vince and only serves vegan food at its ground.
What has the reaction been?
Tony Davey is the chair of the Stroud and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce. He said it was the people of the town who had won it recognition.
“The people who live here and the business community we have built up compliment each other so well and that’s what makes the area so welcoming,” he said.
Karen Doe moved to Stroud 18 years ago and feels it has a unique character.
“There’s a really great music scene, there’s a great art scene here, it’s a town full of very individual people who come together to make it a brilliant place to live. I walk in the countryside and I meet amazing people everyday as well,” she said.
Lottie Lyster Connolly who runs the well known Prince Albert Pub in the town said: “The hills, the views, the valleys, the canals, the sunset; all of it’s just glorious.”
What impact did the pandemic have on judging?
With a population of around 113,000 people, Stroud is smaller than recent winners York (2018) and Bristol (2017) but the panel has tended towards towns in recent years, with Altrincham and Salisbury the last two places to top the list.
Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor, said: “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,” she said.
Where else did well?
The Somerset town of Frome was named as the regional winner for the south west of England.
Judges said that its “creative energy” and “pretty cobbled streets” made it a long-time favourite, but it stood out this year because “it is a town where everybody is keen to get involved”.
image captionFrome praised for being both attractive and active
They praised a scheme providing community support for GP patients that has helped reduce hospital admissions.
“The Compassionate Frome project shows a caring side that has really come to the fore during the pandemic and sets an example that many towns should follow” the panel said.
The places in the west of England that are included in the full list of 78 in the UK are:
- Stroud (National Winner)
- Frome (South West Regional Winner)
- Bristol’s harbourside area
- Tisbury, Wiltshire
Where were the other regional winners?
The guide divides the UK into 10 geographic regions, each with a regional winner. The 2021 list is:
- East: Woodbridge
- London: Teddington
- Midlands: Stamford
- North & Northeast: Ilkley
- Northern Ireland: Holywood
- Northwest: Altrincham
- Scotland: North Berwick
- South East: Surrey Hills
- South West: Frome
- Wales: Usk
Related Internet Links
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.