At the beginning of the year, Fine & Country published a list of the 10 most beautiful places to live and we assessed whether there was a cost attached to buying a home in these places. We found evidence of a correlation between beauty and price, particularly within cities. For example, Cambridge, Bath and Brighton were all in the top ten for beauty as well as being in the top ten highest priced cities of the country.
While this demonstrated a link between architectural beauty and price, we were intrigued by the relationship between natural beauty and house prices. How much more are buyers prepared to pay to live in naturally beautiful areas? We looked into sales prices across the 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England to examine this further.
Highest premium paid was in Nidderdale
Our analysis compared the average price per square foot in 2017 for places located within AONBs to the average sales price of other properties sold within the rest of the region.
The AONB which saw the highest premium paid in 2017 compared to the regional average was in Nidderdale in Yorkshire. Here, the average price paid for homes in 2017 was £272 per square foot, 54% higher than the regional average. In second place was the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the Cornish Coast. With a climate of their own the islands are hugely popular with second home purchasers. However, a large proportion of properties are Duchy owned, limiting the supply of homes to buy and adding to the scarcity value.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been designated to conserve or enhance their natural beauty and are, on the whole, protected from major development although they don’t have their own planning authorities in the same way as National Parks. As a result, new supply of properties is much more constrained than in other parts of the country. In addition, turnover of properties in these areas is often lower than average as people stay in their properties longer. The proportion of private homes which sold in 2017 in AONBs was 4.1%. This compares with 4.5% in other parts of the country (excluding London). As a result, the availability of properties to buy is often restricted, pushing up the price premiums.
Most expensive Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to live in is the Chilterns
The most expensive AONB to live in is the Chilterns in South East England. Sales prices in 2017 within this area averaged £512 per square foot. This is a 35% premium to properties sold across the rest of the South East. The Chilterns were established in 1965 and are one of the larger AONB, covering 833 square kilometres. As estimated 80,000 people live within the area although it’s closeness to London’s commuter belt mean that a further 500,000 people are estimated to live within 2km of its border.
To buy a home in the Surrey Hills, close to the commuter towns of Guildford, Epsom and Horsham, cost buyers an average of £499 per square foot in 2017. This makes it the second most expensive AONB to live in across the country, achieving a 31% premium to the rest of the South East.
All of the top ten priced AONB are across the south and east of the country. However, not all AONBs see a price premium compared to their regional average.
The North Wessex Downs and Kent Downs are both within the top 10 AONBs to live in the country in terms of sales prices paid per square foot in 2017. However, with prices in the rest of the South East some of the most expensive in the country, these two areas are slightly more affordable places to live. Averaging, £365 per square foot, purchasers in these areas are able to live in a beautiful place at a slight discount to the rest of region.