THE Vale of White Horse has been named as one of the best places to live in Britain.

The area came seventh in the list of Britain’s 50 most desirable areas to live, up two places from last year.

Each of Oxfordshire’s rural districts made the top 50, with South Oxfordshire at 28, West Oxfordshire at 39 and Cherwell at 46.

Number one was the district of Uttlesford, in the west of Essex, according to the Halifax’s 2014 survey published last week.

Residents of the Vale, which includes Abingdon Wantage and villages like Steventon and Drayton, were not surprised.

The rankings are based on figures about schools, life expectancy, crime, weather, employment, health and broadband access.

Alastair Fear, 56, who moved from Oxford to Abingdon 25 years ago, said: “I actually moved because the houses were cheaper, but when I went into the town I was astounded by the old County Hall and the bridge over the river.

“I can definitely agree that Vale should be up there. Crime rates are low, unemployment is low.

“And you can live in the centre of town but you have the countryside on your doorstep. It’s a great place to live. The Vale as a whole is.”

The leader of the district council, Matthew Barber. said: “We’re delighted, not just to be included but to be improving and going up on the list.

“It’s a tribute to a wonderful place we live in, not just because of the natural environment, but also all the services in the community.

“What makes it really strong is the sense of community in each of our towns and villages, and every one is different.”

Peter Fowler, who runs the Shoulder of Mutton pub, in Wallingford Street, Wantage, and has lived in the town for 33 years, said: “Wantage is an absolutely stunning place. “In terms of the Vale, it is the perfect location, in reach of so many places like Reading and Oxford.”

James Goodman, of Wantage estate agents Green & Co , said: “It could definitely attract more people here, it certainly can’t harm.

“These sorts of things are taken with a pinch of salt but a lot of people are moving out of London and if it draws their eye a bit further west, it will have a positive impact.”

A Wallingford resident of 40 years, former town mayor Ros Lester said South Oxfordshire should rank higher than its 28th place.

She said: “It’s just such a beautiful place, and everything is on your doorstep. I know we’re not by the sea, but we have the little market towns and the River Thames. I think we should be higher. I can’t believe the Vale of White Horse is seven – we should be up there.”

West Oxfordshire resident Trevor Milne-Day and his family moved from London to Bampton 30 years ago.

He said: “It’s lovely and remarkably rural for somewhere that’s in the centre of things really.

“It’s sparsely populated but has a lot of very interesting people. And it has the Cotswolds – which is a really attractive area.”

Bryn and Jenny Williams moved from London to Deddington, in the Cherwell district, 20 years ago to bring up their family.

Mr Williams, father to twins Jessica and Ellie, 19, Alex, 16, and Lucy, 15, said: “I can definitely believe Cherwell has been chosen as one of the best places to live.

“And we’re very fortunate with the schools. Our children have all gone through state education and done really well.”


THE Top 10 rural areas with the best quality of life in Britain in 2014, according to the Halifax:

1. Uttlesford, Essex

2. South Northamptonshire

3. Waverley, Surrey

4. East Hertfordshire

5. Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire

6. South Cambridgeshire

7. Vale of White Horse

8. Chiltern, Buckinghamshire

9. Mid-Sussex

10. South Kesteven, Lincs