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Best things about living in Petersfield

PUBLISHED: 10:29 30 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:29 30 August 2016

£775,000 - Distinctive Arts & Crafts house with feature staircase Bourne Estate Agents, Petersfield, 01730 262826

£775,000 - Distinctive Arts & Crafts house with feature staircase Bourne Estate Agents, Petersfield, 01730 262826

Bourne Estate Agents

Looking for the quintessential market town? Move to Petersfield suggests Emma Caulton

Petersfield is properly perfect. This is a country market town that has kept its authenticity. It is what it says in the description. There always seems to be something happening in The Square, its leafy hub overlooked by St Peter’s church and fringed by period buildings. There are regular weekly markets, a farmers’ market every month and seasonal festivals, such as three-day spectaculars in spring and summer with music and feasting.

However Petersfield also delivers plenty more. For a start it is an established foodie destination (long before ‘foodism’ was fashionable). Jake Watkins, chef-proprietor of JSW on Dragon Street, is considered one of the most exciting chefs in the country and has held a Michelin star for 14 years. Other stars of the local foodie scene include Annie Jones in Lavant Street, offering Mediterranean-inspired, inventive menu, tapas and patisserie. There’s the unexpected, such as Fez, a highly-regarded and cosy Turkish cafe tucked down a back alley (Bakery Lane), The Natural Apothecary Health Food Shop and Cafe on Heath Road (ahead of the clean eating game), and funky cafe/restaurant and kitchen Fork Handles, sourcing ingredients from within a 30 mile radius - all this plus traditional tearooms and old inns.

For shoppers, the town has an alluring mix of quality independents alongside familiar names. So the likes of Crew, Joules, Fat Face and Phase Eight rub shoulders with stylish boutiques such as Nutmeg (stocking labels from Noa Noa to Nice Things), Tiger Rose (look out for Odd Molly and Villagallo), Duet, Rhona Russell and Willow. The most amazing bookshop, One Tree Books (it even has Mahjong evenings) survives despite a Waterstones. There may be a Waitrose, but this is a town centre which still has a greengrocer (The Happy Cow), old-fashioned butcher’s, wine merchant (The General Wine Company), and Madeleine’s Deli. In short there’s everything you need and more.

The very best thing about Petersfield are those elements that make it so individual and special. Foremost among those are its green spaces – both without and within. Peterfield’s location is exceptional: surrounded by the South Downs National Park. There’s Queen Elizabeth Country Park to the south, the spectacular Hangers to the north and rolling chalk downland stretching east and west. The town centre itself benefits from an abundance of greenery. Within strolling distance of the High Street is The Heath - 69 acres of parkland with a 22 acre boating pond. Tucked behind the High Street itself is another treat: The Physic Garden a 17th century style walled garden of topiary, orchard and herb beds where people on lunch breaks read and schoolchildren gather after school (so much better than a street corner).

That brings me on to schools. Top marks for Petersfield with only Goods and Outstandings recorded by Ofsted for the local schools in the town centre and surrounding villages. Plus the area has some of the most highly regarded independent schools in the country, namely Bedales, Churchers’ College and Ditcham Park.

Facilities for families encompass the essential and the quirky, for example a heated outdoor swimming pool as well as a leisure complex with pool, sports hall and fitness suites. Regular family-orientated events are supplemented by performances at Festival Hall (named after Petersfield’s annual musical festival established in 1901 and considered one of the finest festivals of its kind in the South), plus productions at the Studio@TPS and quality performances at The Olivier Theatre, Bedales.

For commuters, life in Petersfield is perfectly feasible. The mainline station in the centre of town has regular train services to London Waterloo (taking about an hour and a quarter) and Portsmouth (about half an hour). The A3 bypasses the town connecting with the M25 in one direction and the M27/A27 in the other. The Hindhead tunnel, running beneath the Devil’s Punchbowl, opened up East Hampshire to the commuter five years back, kick-starting a rise in demand and pressure on prices across the area, but particularly Petersfield. I had long thought, prior to this development, that Petersfield offered relatively good value for its Georgian townhouses, Victorian terraces and big between-the-wars homes. Finally, however, Petersfield has been discovered and is on the pricey side. Fair enough. What cost quality of life in a proper market town that ticks all the boxes?

Agent talk - Colin Williams, Williams of Petersfield

“Lying in the folds of the South Downs, our ancient market town has always been a desirable place to call home. A commuter’s paradise, train services have steadily improved over the years, with many professionals attracted to Petersfield because of our handy travel links.

Of course, our schools have played a significant role in attracting families to the town. Ofsted recently classified primary schools Herne Junior, Sheet and Steep as Good while The Petersfield School [secondary Academy] is considered Good with Outstanding features.

We’re blessed with a diverse range of excellent pubs, cafes and restaurants, so there’s plenty of choice for a social night out. And, true to our market town roots, the regular and specialist markets in the town square have brought new businesses to the town.

It is no surprise to me, as a resident myself, that the close-knit community and quality of life in Petersfield are a magnet for buyers. The numbers speak for themselves. Over the past year, the House Price Index recorded an average price of £231,000 for a property in Hampshire while here in Petersfield it’s just over £402,000. With the region’s prices increasing, and Petersfield’s appeal, I think it’s safe to say that prices will continue to rise.”


More…

Best things about living on the Isle of Wight - If you’re into festivals, sunshine and green industries, the Isle of Wight calls, suggests Emma Caulton

Great Drives in Hampshire: 4 - Petersfield - This month’s scenic foray in a BMW i8 combines retail therapy in historic surroundings with a tour of picturesque valleys and a spot of lunch before admiring the architecture of a local landmark says Mark Whitchurch

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